WHEN I was a kid, my siblings and I enjoyed reading the adventures of Blinky Bill, a cute Australian koala.
But on my trip down under to the Brisbane Writers Festival in September I’ll be seeking the higher pursuit of learning from internationally recognised writers and building networks that help promote literature in Papua New Guinea.
The favourite moment of my first trip to Australia – the ‘Taking the Truth’ tour of 2012 - was visiting the Australian National Museum in Canberra where I saw the Taim Bipo (Time Before) exhibition on Torres Straits Island culture. It showed how closely connected our people are despite the modern day boundaries.
I think my fellow Papua New Guinean writers and I have a role in informing the work of Australian writers in understanding the Pacific and Australia’s place in it. And I’d like to understand what makes a good piece of literature from the point of view of the Anglophone populace.
But mostly I’ll be talking with Australians about PNG, a land of a thousand tribes and millions of stories waiting to be told.
Many PNG writers are responding to the test of telling these stories, but it is an uphill battle. Through my role as a committee member of the Crocodile Prize awards I’m working towards creating an enabling mechanism to ensure the stories that need to be told are written.
As readers will know, life in PNG is quite challenging but has is up sides too. Family connections are important and the land and sea and forests both nourish life and make it difficult.
I’m very grateful for the support provided in promoting PNG literature in Australia. This support shows a commitment to the development of literacy education and a literary culture in my country.