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Continuing PNG's journey of literary opportunity

Benjamin Law
Benjamin Law
Rashmii Bell
Rashmii Bell


BRISBANE - After eleven years on air, the ABC’s The Book Club screened its final episode on Tuesday. Host Jennifer Byrne and regular panellists Marieke Hardy and Jason Steger for the last time engaged in literary discussion and debate.

They were joined by guest panellist Benjamin Law, whose Quarterly Essay was the subject of an article I wrote in October, ‘Awakening to LGBTIQ – experience, disagreement and acceptance’.

Steger’s selection for one of the five best books of 2017 was ‘The Restorer’ by Michael Sala, which I will review for PNG Attitude readers tomorrow.

It goes without saying that the journey of our online community of Australian and Papua New Guinean readers and writers, as promoted by PNG Attitude and Pukpuk Publications, has been relentless in exploring and creating opportunities to encourage and expose contemporary Papua New Guinean writers, not only within the nation but also in Australia.

And so it was that this year’s Brisbane Writers Festival’s teamed me with established Australian writers, Michael Sala and Kerrie Davies (‘A Wife’s Heart: The Untold Story of Bertha and Henry Lawson) to jointly present a literary discussion about our respective books: mine, of course, being as editor of ‘My Walk to Equality.

That the invitation came my way was not only a surprise but offered a great opportunity that I readily embraced.

Above all, it seemed to me to be a testament to the perseverance of PNG Attitude’s vision of having PNG writers interact, share and learn from international writers, sharing the same platform at premier literary events.

Both Kerrie Davies and Michael Sala were kind, generous with their insights and expressed enthusiasm about the presence of PNG literature at BWF17.

They conveyed favourable impressions about ‘My Walk to Equality’ as did Emily Sexton, who chaired our session.

It was a process in which, guided by the Brisbane Writers Festival team, I invested much time in preparation and enjoyed a great deal. I was also delighted with the support of Bob Cleland and Maibury Ashton, who were present for our session, ‘Staying Power’, which was fully-booked.

I look forward to and am committed to exploring similar opportunities for other Papua New Guinean writers through PNG Attitude’s ongoing association with the Brisbane Writers Festival.

It is an activity I believe PNG’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Emil Tammur, should support by providing literary grants for travel and participation in what will be Papua New Guinea’s third consecutive appearance at the annual Queensland event.


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