“There are many writers wondering where PNG is heading and when the vicious cycles of political corruption, poor economic development and social decay will end. Papua New Guinea is a nation in denial” - Sumatin
NOOSA – Sumatin magazine, published by Michael Dom and his energetic team at Ples Singsing, is billed as the ‘space for Papua New Guinean creativity’ and is a wonderful initiative that has revived the fading literary flame lit by the Crocodile Prize.
Sumatin magazine issue 2 of July 2022, which you can access here, is a free, online production featuring both original content and relevant writing drawn largely from Ples Singsing, PNG Attitude and DevPolicy Blog.
The publishers have selected and intelligently curated a splendid collection of creative writing and provide readers with exciting artistic design and layout and it is a real pleasure to leaf through and read its 88 pages.
“We look back at the start of Papua Niugini’s literary history, with retrospective articles from academic scholars and old students of the ‘father of PNG literature’, Ulrich Horst Beier,” writes Michael Dom, introducing the magazine.
“We do this in order to give back to PNG what we already have – a rich heritage of literary work emerging during colonial and post-independence periods.”
The magazine also showcases five recent books by Papua New Guinean authors.
It pays tribute to the recent deaths of four national leaders, three knights and a deputy prime minister which have in recent years deprived PNG of some of its most eminent figures and the dwindling number of men and women with lived experience of the years around independence in 1975.
But this disconnection with a past that promised so much and a present that delivers so little, has set an entire nation on edge and perturbed its writers, who seek to present a clear-eyed view of PNG.
“Today there are many writers wondering where PNG is heading and when the vicious cycles of political corruption, poor economic development and social decay will end,” writes Dom, adding that one young writer whose work he published “poses that PNG is a nation in denial”.
“We at Ples Singsing believe that it is by thinking and writing, reading and reviewing our literary, lifestyle and legislative processes, people can be brought to a better understanding of what we value, who we are and what we may achieve together.”
This is a profound declaration that the leaders of this astonishingly beautiful, severely conflicted and arguably failing country fail to appreciate.
Which is the power of literature to assist the nation-building task, a task they also seem not to apprehend is one of their most sacred duties.
Dom also muses on the power of PNG’s dominant languages - English, Tok Pisin, Motu and the hundreds of local vernacular languages, Tok Ples, bearer of so much of cultural importance in a country of 850 tribes still trying to find its way.
“We have much more in store for our literary growth and towards revealing who we really are, as a creative people, to the rest of the world,” he writes.
The Commonwealth Foundation, which provided a grant to produce Sumatin, will be well pleased with what their support delivered, and I believe that you too will be delighted at what you discover in the pages you will find by linking here.