Poetry and the masses
A brief meeting of two souls

Where are those old Sogeri books?

Powesiu Lawes on the beach at Loniu Village  Manus
Doctor and artist Powesiu Lawes on the beach at Loniu Village,  Manus


NOOSA - Hazel Kutkue, a doctor at Braun District Hospital west of Finschhafen in Morobe Province (and a fine writer), has asked whether the three Sogeri books mentioned in Marj Walker's obituary are still in print.

It so happens that this was a matter I looked into when I was writing the obituary.

The three books are Taim Bipo, compiled by Lance Taylor (1974), Tairu, compiled by Barry Ison (1975) and Wati Kui by Powesiu Lawes (1978).

They were all published around the time of independence under the auspices of Marj Walker’s expressive arts department at Sogeri National High School.

Each of the books features, or is primarily concerned with, the culture and art of Papua New Guinea.

None of them is in print. They are firmly in the 'rare books' category. But I was able to track all of them down, so they have not been entirely lost to Papua New Guinea.

Powesiu Lawes
A young Powesiu Lawes

Taim Bipo is held by the Australian Museum in Sydney and, according to the World Catalogue, also at Sogeri National High School. I am unsure of how the current accuracy of that World Catalogue listing.

Tairu is held by the National Library of Australia in Canberra and, again according to the World Catalogue, at Sogeri.

Wati Kui – a collection of drawings does not seem to be held in any official repository but is available to purchase online.

I located Wata Kui and Taim Bipo online. They were expensive but I decided to buy them for my tiny collection of rare books about PNG.

My intention is to transfer these books to PNG at an appropriate time when I am assured there is a secure repository for them. I could not find a copy of Tairu for sale online.

Powesiu Lawes retired to his Manus village some years ago. But in tracking down his collection of drawings, I found this literary jewel, The Beautiful Past – a fragment he wrote in 1978.


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Julius Jethro

We, the new generation for the 2000s would like to know more about these books. I for one haven't read these kinds of books or the school I attend doesn't have them.

I am thinking of setting up a mini-library for my community so the kids can get in touch with PNG culture.

Peter Wohlers

Do you access the following site that I use relatively often?
At least two of the books that you mention are available.


Philip Fitzpatrick

I met Powesiu Lawes at Loniu village in 2014 when I was doing social mapping there.

I didn't know he had written 'Wati Kui' and would have asked him about it if I had known - what a lost opportunity.

I've got a large collection of PNG books too, some of them quite rare. I'd like to deposit them somewhere where they would be useful in PNG but haven't got any idea where.

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