Cultural Refugees – An Anthology of Poems, Julie Mota, CreateSpace, 2016, 56 pages, ISBN: 978-1539357619, US$8 plus postage from Amazon Books
THIS MAY well be the first book-length poetry collection by a Papua New Guinean woman produced in the last decade.
And just as women play an overlooked but vital and often timely role in our domestic lives, this contribution to PNG’s literary culture is just what we need to even the balance and add the right amount of spice to make a much more hearty home-made meal.
Julie Mota is no stranger to creative work, in fact, she has a degree in it. After graduating in fine arts at the University of Papua New Guinea she began working as an artist and writer, with her art exhibited and collected in major art galleries and museums in Europe and the United States.
Ms Mota is also a published writer and poet of considerable experience. Her achievements are characteristic of the quiet but dauntless confidence of many unannounced PNG women, successfully pursuing their dreams and ambitions.
In this anthology we are presented with a cultured balance of English and Tok Pisin poetry. Julie’s form is swift and fluid, and her words ring clear off the pages as if she is speaking to you in person.
The agenda she writes on is all-encompassing and her voice is that of woman, mother and artist who sees the changes that are happening in our country and wants us to take serious notice of them. This is a voice we should listen to.
As Ms Mota writes in her prologue:
“We are sandwiched in time between two cultures our own indigenous Melanesian and the borrowed sweeping in. Even so, intermarriages between cultures give rise to an integration of cultures and indeed cultural immersion.
“This collection is an exploration on whether cultural immersions and transitional processes are producing cultural refugees in our midst.
“The different perspectives represented in this collection opens up the dialogue on how we Papua New Guineans look at our society, the changes that are happening and challenges us to discuss, embrace and pave a path forward for further exploration on the themes raised.”
She writes in ‘Pablik Hausik’, of the familiar sight of mothers sitting in the tropical heat, nursing babies while waiting for service. Many of us may know this scene very well.
She writes of a husband, “His gifted hands scorched by the hard work he does for his family. / Those gentle hands that play beautiful music on his guitar.”
Ms Mota addresses serious social issues such as gender equity and domestic violence, and still celebrates the “music in everyone”.
Our poet also has a sly sense of humour.
When she speaks of the tax collector, “Like a seductive temptress / slithering through his conscience / tagging his wallet. / Just a little tax she is saying / a pint would do”.
This has an oblique familiarity, methinks.
Julie Mota raises the bar for both contemporary as well as academic literary pundits.
She does so by returning to our hearth, to our native soil and the tongues which evolved on this particular patch of dirt.
Julie has interpreted mourning performance poetry, called ‘Kaita’, from the Yegha people of Tufi, Oro Province.
She’s bringing back the good stuff folks!
Readers of PNG Attitude, welcome Julie Mota: PNG artist, writer and poet.