“If you don’t start writing, you will continue thinking forever and die with your thoughts” – Francis Nii
‘Prized Possessions: A Collection of Poetry’ by Dominica Are, paperback, 132 pages. Independently published, March 2020. ISBN-13 979-8622956454. Available here from Amazon for $9.24
GOROKA - Writing about your own personal experiences and life in your own carefully carved words whilst feeling joy, pain and every emotion along the way can be quite soothing.
It is not easy at first. There are demons that you have to fight off to make peace with your past: your failures, losses and everything you have endured to put your story out there.
Writing about it revisits these moments, no matter how dark and painful. So, writer, be proud of yourself for being strong and courageous.
The things going on in your head and life cannot stay hidden forever. Both good and bad need to be written.
Your children need to hear your story. You might not be around long enough to relay these stories to them. Your writings can give them an important insight into your life.
Someone out there needs to hear the story of how you survived that awful storm so it may be their guide in life. Someone out there who has experienced similar things may feel better that they are not alone in this boat.
My collection of poetry, Prized Possessions, is an autobiographical scrapbook based on the joys and perils of my life journey and experiences.
It focuses on personal moments like a blissful childhood that turned sour, losses and heartbreak.
I want to share my story of how I have been shoved through the hooks and claws of tragedy and survived. I want to share my hope that things will surely get better.
Every vital detail of my journey is captured in this anthology: from the deep abyss of pain beyond nightmare to the pinnacle of joyous moments where one wants to remain there forever. But nor does the simple observation of my surroundings go unwritten.
I have always loved writing about my personal experiences.
It began with my parent’s separation in 1998 - a bleak, confusing moment in my life at an early age.
It was then I turned to writing poetry for consolation and it worked wonders.
My four siblings and I were raised singlehandedly by my dad for 10 years. He had a big influence on my life and writing. An avid reader himself, he encouraged us to read anything we could get our hands on.
In mid-2000 I started sending my poems to the two daily newspapers (The National and the Post-Courier), seeking to have them published in their Writers Forum.
It’s just an amazing feeling to see my work in print and have it read by others.
I always looked forward to my dad coming home with newspapers, especially on Fridays, because that’s when the poems are published in The Weekender. He’d give me a big proud smile and a hug whenever one of my pieces was published.
Putting a collection of my poems together for publication was not easy.
I struggled to fight off the negative feelings of being embarrassed, scared and judged.
But the thought of dying with these beautiful stories within saddened me. I care about my stories. I care about my writing. Your life doesn’t have to be a perfect fairy tale story for you to write about it.
Our experiences on life’s journey may not be the same but we all have our share of happiness and tragedies. We create messes of our lives but mostly get around to clearing all wreckage and continue to sail on.
My poems are my story.
And my pen and paper, my family, my children – these are my prized possessions.
Most of the poems in Prized Possessions are free verse with few touches of ballad, sonnet, ode, rondeau, kyrielle, haiku, limerick and tanka. (See glossary at the end of this article for an explanation of these forms)
Although I enjoy writing free verse, my interest in other types of poetry is gaining momentum. To truly master the art of following the rules is quite a challenge but I practice a lot.
The anthology is of 116 pages and consists of 90 poems and it was an honour to have Prized Possessions published by Francis Nii Publications on 29 March.
To think that Francis’s health was failing at the time he was editing and publishing this book is beyond human understanding.
It clearly showed his determined spirit to continue what he loved doing despite his situation. For this I am eternally grateful to Francis. Ed Brumby has written a fitting foreword for the anthology.
It was a sad day for literature in Papua New Guinea when Francis passed away on 2 August. But his writings will live on and that is the beauty of writing.
Keith Jackson writes....
Dominica emailed me this week – “I grieved for a long time at Francis’s passing. There is so much more to learn from this great man. Our last correspondence was regarding the purchase of the book. Due to shipping restrictions he was unable to place orders and to date I have been unable to purchase it on Amazon.”
Amazon stopped shipping to PNG because it was experiencing considerable loss of consignments through theft and misappropriation. I have assured Dominica that I will obtain a copy of Prized Possessions from Amazon and mail it to her from Australia.
If you would like to do likewise and help Dominica acquire a larger number of copies of her first book so she can distribute them, you can order the books from Amazon here and, when you get them, post them on to Dominica Are, PNG Coffee Exports Ltd, PO Box 138, Airport Road, Goroka, Eastern Highlands 441, Papua New Guinea
Glossary of poetic forms
ballad A popular narrative song passed down orally. In the English tradition, it usually follows a form of rhymed (abcb) quatrains (a stanza consisting of 4 lines) alternating four-stress and three-stress lines
haiku A major form of Japanese verse, written in 17 syllables divided into three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, and employing highly evocative allusions and comparisons,
kyrielle A French form of rhyming poetry written in quatrains, each quatrain contains a repeating line or phrase as a refrain (usually appearing as the last line of each stanza). Each line within the poem consists of eight syllables
limerick A five-line poem that consists of a single stanza, an aabba rhyme scheme and whose subject is a short, pithy tale or description. Most limericks are comedic, some are crude and nearly all are trivial
ode A lyric poem (of a type originally meant to be sung), typically in the form of addressing a particular subject and written in varied or irregular metre
rondeau Traditional French form composed of a rhyming quatrain, quintet and sestet. Named after the French word for 'round' the rondeau is characterised by the repeating lines of the refrain and two rhyme sounds throughout
sonnet A 14 fourteen line poem with a fixed rhyme scheme
tanka A 31-syllable poem traditionally written in a single unbroken line. A form of waka, Japanese song or verse. Tanka translates as 'short song' and is better known in its five-line, 5/7/5/7/7 syllable count form
About the author
Dominica Are is of mixed Simbu and Eastern Highlands parentage. She graduated in business accountancy from Divine Word University and works for PNG Coffee Exports Ltd in Goroka. Dominica developed her passion for reading and writing at primary school. Her short stories and poetry are mostly based on her life experiences and have been published in PNG Attitude and the Crocodile Prize anthologies. Dominica was a contributor to the first anthology of PNG Women Writers, ‘My Walk to Equality’, in 2017. Follow her on Instagram @aredominica and Facebook page Twinkling Journey where she posts her poetry from time to time.