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Dominica Are & her Prized Possessions

Dominica’s book 'Prized Possessions'HAZEL KUTKUE
| Sipikriva Girl Blog | Photographs by Dominica Are

'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 $US8.73

BRAUN - Poetry makes for beautiful literature.

Sipikriva Girl, despite not entirely embracing poetry, had the opportunity to speak to 34-year old writer, poet and accountant, Dominica Are, who recently published her first collection of poetry, Prized Possessions.

Hailing from the highlands of Papua New Guinea, Dominica works full time as an accountant with PNG Coffee Exports Ltd in Goroka.

She spent almost all of her formative years in Mt Hagen attending schools there and then moving to Madang to attend Divine Word University.

Dominica has been writing for almost 20 years, mostly poetry and short stories. As with a lot of art, often powerful emotions are the triggers of works of great beauty.

When her parents separated in 1998, she took to scribbling in her notebook about the hurt and pain she felt, and the hopes and wishes she had.

“I find solace in spilling out my thoughts and emotions. It has been quite a long journey but I haven’t given up on documenting what I go through,” Dominica says.

She religiously makes daily journal entries and it was these that form the basis of her book, which has been in the pipeline for a quite a while.

“I keep a collection of all that I’ve written over the years,” Dominica says.

“I have been keeping notebooks and newspaper cuttings of published work. When I got my first laptop at university, I started keeping e-copies.”

Dominica at her writing desk
Dominica at her writing desk - busy with her second ‘job’

Initially Dominica wasn’t very keen on publishing. However her collection kept growing.

“I was only writing for myself.

“When I started seeing my entries published in the annual Crocodile Prize anthologies (and in My Walk to Equality), I experienced a different outlook in approaching my writing.”

Dominica decided to give publishing a shot after encouragement from people close to her.

“In 2019, I decided I must do it! I started pulling out my work from here and there.

“Seeing that all my writings were about personal experiences, I decided to have my first publication about that.”

Putting a collection of her poems together for publication was not easy for Dominica, who struggled to fight off the negative feelings of exposing her very personal experiences.

“The thought of dying with these beautiful stories within saddened me. I care about my stories. I care about my writing,” she says.

In the end, she found courage enough to tell her story through poetry.

In early 2020, Dominica contacted the late Francis Nii who helped edit and publish Prized Possessions.

Dominica likes freestyle poetry best and believes it to be her strength.

She has also dabbled in more technical styles including ballad, sonnet, ode, rondeau, kyrielle, haiku, limerick and tanka.

Prized Possessions contains 90 poems in its 116 pages.

“I want my readers to be inspired to write their own story,” Dominica says.

“No matter how ugly it may seem, 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.”

Dominica believes that our experiences, written down and read by others, might help readers who feel downtrodden and lost.

Dominica with the late Francis Nii’s tribute book ‘Man Bilong Buk’
Dominica with the late Francis Nii’s tribute book ‘Man Bilong Buk’, edited by Keith Jackson and Phil Fitzpatrick

Prized Possessions was published by Francis Nii Publications through CreateSpace. Francis also played a part in editing the book.

Working with Francis, who died in August, Dominica described him as open and a straight shooter.

“I truly appreciate his honest critique on my work. There were a few pieces whose meanings were quite ambiguous so he asked me to look at them again.

“I read over and over again and found that it was true so I had to rewrite.”

Francis emphasised that writers have to think of the average Papua New Guinean reader when publishing.

At the time of publishing, Francis was very ill, but pressed on to help make Prized Possessions a reality.

Dominica faced some hurdles in getting hardcopies of her book. Amazon had stopped shipping to PNG so it was difficult to get copies.

Dominica had to buy copies of her book and have them shipped to people in Australia who shipped them to PNG.

Dominica believes government support is the way to go.

“Support should be given through the initiation of writing competitions, reviving, building libraries and supporting local authors in purchasing and distributing their books,” she says.

“The environment must be so ideal that local authors and publishers can produce well and profitably too.”

Dominica has a few words of wisdom for other writers as a parting remark.

“You don’t have to be an expert or have a background in creative writing in order to write.

“You have to make it happen. Be persistent and you’ll get better eventually.

“The most important thing is to read. Reading and writing go hand in hand. The more you read, the better your writing will be.”

Sipikriva Girl wishes Dominica only the best in her endeavours, writing or otherwise


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Kaupa Alexander Kale

Congratulations Dominica. You are a great writer and poet. I am looking forward to grab a copy of Prized Possessions.

All the best in your writing.

Corney Korokan Alone

I am happy to be reading of this development. Keep doing your artistic work, Dominica. I'd like to get a copy of this some day.

I am also looking forward to buy a copy of 'Victory Song of Pingeta's Daughter' by Daniel Kumbon.

'Man Bilong Buk' is finally here for Tanya and myself.
I hadn't checked my post office box in ages so this surprise seems dated, due purely to my resigned legs not making their way there.

Great appreciation and thanks to Paul Oates for taking the trouble.

Daniel Kumbon

Hazel, good to see you here again, that shy girl I met in Simbu six years ago.
I have a copy of Dominica's 'Prized Possessions' in my hands right now. I will bury myself in its pages in the next couple of days.
Picked it up from the Boroko Post Office a few minutes ago together with my own book 'Victory Song of Pingeta's Daughter. I ordered my copies through Phil Fitzpatrick.
He probably is upset with me for not picking them up sooner and may have worried that these could have been lost to theft. But I still maintain there are some good honest people still. And I wish that Amazon could reconsider posting orders of PNG books direct to the country.
I have been home in Kandep cut off from the outside world in the last couple of weeks. I am right now busy updating myself with articles in the 'attitude.'
And Hazel, keep those stories coming. I like your style.

Dominica Are

Phil - Thank you and appreciate your invaluable support always. Yes, another poetry and short stories collection is in the pipeline.

Fr Gary, it's heartwarming to hear words of appreciation for my late father's services. He was indeed the best and most loved dentist.

He served the people of Western Highlands Province and the Highlands region with distinction until his death in 2008.

We had really good memories of Mt Hagen where my siblings and I were born, grew up and went to school. We attended mass regularly at St Paul's Parish and sometimes at Rebiamul.

Philip, thank you so much. To me poetry is one of the best outlets when its difficult to express how one feels. I am still learning to truly master this art. Will let you know once I have copies on hand.

Joe, thank you and happy to hear your thoughts on Prized Possessions.

Joe Herman

I have just finished reading "Prized Possessions". Excellent work, Dominica. Keep writing.

Philip Kai Morre

Congratulations, Dominica, you are a great writer and a motivator for women writers.

Some of us can write but only a few people have the creative skills to write poetry.

I would like to buy a copy of the book but we have become victims of Amazon's decision not to export books to PNG.

Garrett Roche

I am tempted to say that I had a few painful encounters with Dominica's father Dr Peter Are. But that is because her father was my dentist, and a very well respected dentist at Mt Hagen Hospital.

I got some fillings and also had some extractions at the hands of Dr Peter. He was a very good dentist.

I often saw Dominica and her siblings there in those years (1999-2005) in Hagen. Dominica - all the best with your writing.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Dominica is one of my favourite PNG poets.

I bought two copies of her book and sent them on to people in PNG to read. I read them first of course and would highly recommend the book to interested readers.

Hopefully there will be more to come.

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