More than a century on, the great game revisited
Closure of Pukpuk Publications poses a challenge to writers

With an all-encompassing agenda, this is a voice to listen to


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.”

Mota - Cultural RefugeesJulie Mota writes of simple truths, basics of life, down to earth emotions, sufferings, joys and expectations.

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.


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Daniel Kumbon

Thanks Michael for the review of Julie's work. It's a milestone achievement for her and PNG women generally.

My heart reached out for our FIFA under 20s national soccer team last night who were toyed around on the field by super fit Brazilian girls of the same age group. The Brazilian secret is anybody's guess.

And so with writing. Both PNG men and women must write more, publish more, comment more and participate more to perfect our literacy levels to world standards. We can't sit around, chew buai and expect miracles to happen. We must all strive to be the best.

Jordan Dean is one silent achiever and now Julie Mota. There must be more. Show your faces and emerge.

I say again here that JK Rowling was a single mother who wrote Harry Potter in a coffee shop with one hand while attending to her baby with the other.

Steven Ilave Snr

Thanks Michael for the review of Julie’s work. She is a regular (and respected) contributor to PNG Poetry Facebook. Her poetry is appreciated by other members of the group.

The membership in the group has grown over time and is now approaching 5,000. A majority are young budding writers.

We do not do much screening for the quality of poems that are posted there, but allow for the sharing of original pieces (both tokpisin and tok english) straight from the scrap book to Facebook.

Reviews therefore such as the one you have done for Julie’s work, the review by Phil & Keith of Ward Lee’s work, and the one that Ed Brumby (I understand) is doing for Jordon Dean’s work are extremely useful for our members to gauge where our regular contributors are at, in terms of the quality of their poetry and their profile as writers.
Thanks again.

Jordan Dean

Thanks Michael for the review. It's time women rise up and speak up.

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