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PNG women shine at Sunshine Coast literary festival

Sunshine Coast festivalPHIL FITZPATRICK

I’VE just left the Sunshine Coast international readers and writers festival at Coolum Beach and am still reeling from the experience of sitting on a panel with three of the most intelligent and articulate women I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in a long time.

To put it mildly they did Papua New Guinean women and Papua New Guinean literature proud – I can’t think of any better ambassadors.

Rashmii Bell was cool and collected, chairing our session.  Helen Anderson, a sage commentator, and present despite a dodgy hip.  And the delightful and funny Vanessa Gordon.

In the mainly female audience were other Papua New Guinean women offering support.

My head is reeling because I heard so many unique ideas and points of view.

It was a refreshing experience and something that should be replicated elsewhere, particularly in Papua New Guinea.

I heard about the continuing problems of writers in Papua New Guinea, both male and female. Most of them I’d heard before but there were a few new ones too.

Inevitably the question of the lack of government support for literature came up.

A couple of people from the audience suggested we give up on the O’Neill government, which has resolutely ignored our pleas for years, and concentrate on lobbying a couple of selected members who might further literature’s cause.

I thought about this while driving back to the nearby town where my wife and I are staying.

I think Papua New Guinean writers should appoint their own minister and shadow minister for literature. If O’Neill won’t do it; they should do it themselves.

I’d like to nominate the new member for Goroka Open, Henry Ame, as minister for literature.

Henry is a successful businessman in the coffee game and will be lobbying for growers but there’s no reason why he can’t take on literature too.

Besides, I know Henry’s business partner, and can rely on him to make sure the minister is apprised of the situation.

For shadow minister I’d nominate Oro governor Gary Juffa. Gary is not everyone’s cup of tea but he is a writer and a renowned mover and shaker.

What do you reckon?

If the idea appeals please feel free to nominate your preferred choice. There can be a runoff vote perhaps?


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Ulu Pawa

I suggest Brain Kramer and Dr. Marat

Rashmii Bell

Thank you,Daniel. Despite the multiple requests the project team had made of potential donors or sponsors,the MWTE project/anthology has run on an almost-entirely voluntary and self-funded basis over the past 10 months.

For this reason, only Australian-based PNG writers are participating in the festival panels.

However, we are pleased that the royalities raised from MWTE book sales have gone towards distribution of copies within PNG and, assisting other PNG authors publishing through Pukpuk Publications.

`Daniel Kumbon

Congratulations Rashmii and the team up at the International Readers and Writers Festival on the Sunshine Coast.

I couldn’t make it. I will definitely attend it next year – 2018.

I wish that a lady like Marlene D Otoura could attend the Brisbane Writers Festival, the next international event and join Rashmii and the rest of the panel.

She is a single mum, a writer, an educator, Author and foremost she is a contributor to this milestone woman’s literary book ‘My Walk to Equality. She lost some property in a fire and evicted from the house.
Just a thought, wishing just one PNG-based contributor could take part in MWTE’s success story in Brisbane next month.

Rashmii Bell

Thank you, Phil. Wendy and the SCIRWF team were just fantastic to give 'My Walk to Equality' this opportunity.

It was a terrific event; great venue, lovely people, lots of conversation and ideas shared by all. We look forward to an ongoing association with the Festival.

I'd like to mention that Sandy Pages Bookshop (Coolum) who stocked the anthology advised that all copies sold out within minutes of our panel session ending.

So a massive congratulations to the MWTE team, especially Vanessa, Phil and Helen who presented a truly inspiring session.

A big thank you to all our supporters who sent messages, or retweeted/posted messages across social media on the day.

On the question of nominating a minister - I'd be inclined to nominate those with social media accounts who've acknowledged or interacted with MWTE related tweets/FB posts that I've (and other members of the team) been flooding Twitter/Facebook and Instagram since early January. But alas, none has.

MWTE present at Brisbane Writers Festival in September - as a team panel event that I will chair, and a separate event where I will present with established Australian literary identities.

I encourage any parliamentarian (and their advisers) to take note of this milestone PNG women's literature and incorporate promoting this wonderful achievement into their daily social media activities from hereon.

I'd be delighted to see MPs Sam Basil and Rainbo Paita take up this suggestion.

Three MWTE sessions across two international literary festivals in one year! Well done to the MWTE team.

Elvina Ogil

Surely Kerenga Kua would be the front runner here - as someone who would know his Tolstoy from his Nabokov.

Michael Dom

I second Phil: Henry Ame and Gary Juffa.

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