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Making a dictionary for your own language

Noken Simuk (Robert Eklund)
'Noken Simuk - Smoking forbidden. Leave the matchbox and inflammable matches inside the box' (Robert Eklund)

CRAIG ALAN VOLKER
| Edited & updated

First published in The National, February 2018

PORT MORESBY – All of us probably remember dictionaries from when we were at school.

They had a long list of English words and explained them in English. This is a monolingual dictionary. Words and explanations in the same language.

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Authors benefit from a publishing revolution

SelfPHILIP FITZPATRICK

“I know there's a self-publishing alternative available, but for Luddites such as me that sort of technology stuff would be beyond my comprehension. And how good would those volumes look compared to books prepared by a professional printer” – Richard E Jones

TUMBY BAY – For writers who cannot or don't want to use a major publisher, there are three options available to get your book printed and in front of readers.

Traditional publishers are in the business of making money and – the costs of editing, design, printing and distribution being significant - are very careful about what they publish.

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Michele Rooney short-listed for book award

Michelle Rooney
Michelle Rooney's mother, Nahau, spearheaded the role of women in PNG politics - a tough task at the best of times

KEITH JACKSON

MELBOURNE – Michelle Nayahamui Rooney – a dual Papua New Guinea-Australia citizen of Manus heritage – is one of 10 shortlisted writers in contention for the 2022 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship.

The annual award is given by Writers Victoria to an Australian writer for a proposed work of biography.

Dr Rooney is a research fellow at the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University, a unit that researches and analyses Australian aid and global development with a focus on Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.

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A pity so few of our poems come in translation

Dom pic
Michael Dom - Papua New Guinea's unofficial poet laureate writes on the topsy-turvy ride that is indigenous literature

MICHAEL DOM
| Ples Singsing - A Space for Papua Niuginian Creativity

| Vernacular Traces in the Crocodile Prize: Part 2 of an essay in five parts

English translation by Ed Brumby | Tok Pisin original follows

LAE - When the Crocodile Prize began in 2011, the first poet to write in his mother tongue was Jimmy Drekore, who provided an English translation for his Dinga poem, ‘Advice from a Warrior’.

Wana elge pikra / Son don’t go too far
bi panamia, kanre pa / there’ll be ambush, careful you don’t push
Nenma unawa kanre, Kuman meklanna / When your fathers are here, you’ll step closer
Nene hone pikra / Never go alone

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The taxing art of translation

Baka bina good
Baka Bina - "Translation is really hard work, very taxing on the mind"

BAKA BINA

PORT MORESBY - I recently submitted a short story of mine to the Commonwealth Writers competition. It was written in Tok Pisin and I had translated it into English.

Ino long taim igo pinis, mi salim wanpela hap stori igo long Komonwelt Raitin Resis long ples bilong Misis Kwin. Mi raitim dispela stori long Tok Pisin na bihain mi mekim wok tanim tok na putim dispela stori ken long Tok Ingis.

I wrote it in Tok Pisin first then, paragraph by paragraph, rewrote it in English, trying to stick to the meaning as best I could.

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PNG writing: Stop reminiscing. Start again

Michael Dom 2
Michael Dom - "The success of the Crocodile Prize helped to develop our country’s literature"

MICHAEL DOM
| Vernacular Traces in the Crocodile Prize:
| Part 1 of an essay in five parts

English translation by Ed Brumby | Tok Pisin original follows

LAE - In 2010, Keith Jackson AM and Philip Fitzpatrick came up with the idea of establishing a national literary competition in Papua New Guinea – the Crocodile Prize.

Writing on Keith’s website, PNG Attitude, some of us supported their idea. In recognition, I gave them the name, ‘Grand Pukpuk’.

By way of background, these two men lived a long while in PNG in pre-independence times: the time of the patrol officers.

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How to marry a Chief’s daughter

Chief Lapakio with Rose
Chief Lapakio Kambu with Rose (left)

DANIEL KUMBON

WABAG – I was delighted when an extract from my book, I Can See My Country Clearly Now, was used in the recent English comprehension test for the Grade 12 Papua New Guinea national examinations.

At the time, I wondered if any Enga students noticed they were being examined on an extract from my book.

I’m sure most of them didn’t because they don’t know the book exists.

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‘In our heads is poetry’: An interview with Les Murray

Capp - Les Murray (Adam Hollingworth)
Les Murray - 'The gentle itan of Australian letters' (Adam Hollingworth)

FIONA CAPP
| Australian Book Review

For the April 1985 issue of Australian Book Review, the 22-year old Fiona Capp, then a cadet journalist, interviewed one of Australia’s most eminent poets, Les Murray (1938-2019)  Fiona wrote a gentle and insightful piece on Murray, the self-styled ‘Poet Lorikeet’ of Australian poetry and regarded by his peers as the leading poet of his generation. I hope poets will see some fragments of their own thinking in her profile of a man known as 'the gentle titan of Australian letters'. More on Fiona Capp at the end of this essay - KJ

Capp - LesMELBOURNE - Les Murray describes his poetry as “a celebration of life; a contemplation of life in ways that interest and delight people and make them reflective”. Poetry, he says, is “primarily not to be studied, it is to be read”.

Few people could disagree with Murray that the most desirable response to poetry is for it to be read out of love rather than out of a sense of obligation.

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Poet Sarah aims to empower PNG women

Sarah Kaut-Nasengom (Western Michigan University)
Sarah Kaut-Nasengom (Western Michigan University)

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – The talented Papua New Guinean researcher and poet Sarah Kaut-Nasengom has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to further her studies into women in politics.

The scholarship will enable Sarah to study for a Master of Arts in political science, focusing on women in politics, at Western Michigan University in the USA.

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Tok Pisin first for Commonwealth story prize

StoryEMMA D'COSTA
| Commonwealth Foundation

LONDON, UK - Guyanese writer Fred D’Aguiar will chair an international panel of judges for the 2022 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, which is now open to 1 November 2021.

And for the first time the prize - offering a first prize of K24,000 - will accept stories in Creole languages like Tok Pisin.

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'Post-colonial Literature' is a stupid title

Michael Dom 2
Michael Dom - "I completely reject 'Post-Colonial Literature' as a valid category for considering Papua Niuginian literary works"

MICHAEL DOM

Fragment I

LAE - Post-colonial literature is a stupid title. But I do understand the objective of those academics determined to force us writers to accept it.

They see it as a starting point which, while seemingly logical in an historical time frame, provides a false indication of where our personal creativity and the creativity of our people really began.

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PNG literature – the olden days

Albert-maori-kiki-dealing-with-rioting-women port moresby 19741
Albert Maori Kiki's '10,000 Years in  a Lifetime' (1968) was a  pathfinder in PNG literature. He became a prominent politician. Here, in Port Moresby in 1974, he tries to calm a group of angry women

KESIA ERICK
| Ples Singsing

GOROKA - Writers have always played an important role in societies, both traditional and modern. Every society, every country has its own literary tradition and its own literature.

Whether, American, English, Australian or Papua New Guinean literature, the significance of literature in a society can be grasped from the fact that there has never been a society without a literary tradition, whether oral or written.

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Writing’s always been my passion

Phil
Phil Fitzpatrick - "Shedding the jargon, verbosity and density of the bureaucratic writing style required real effort"

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Some people like messing about in boats but writing fiction has always been a passion of mine.

Unfortunately it’s very hard to make a living out of writing books in Australia and I’ve had to resort to other means of subsistence.

That’s why reaching retirement age is such a blessing.

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Journalists have a trust problem

Gittins
Ross Gittins' book, 'A life among budgets, bulldust and bastardry', is available from Amazon

ROSS GITTINS
| Economics Editor, Sydney Morning Herald
| Extracts

SYDNEY - As journalists know, but probably try not to think about, polling shows that, as an occupation, we don’t rank highly.

We’re well down the list, held in roughly the same esteem as politicians, real estate agents and people selling used cars.

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Waka Poet Faumuina meets Blunt Bugger Dom

MICHAEL DOM
| Ples Singsing

Faumuina Felolini Maria Tafuna’i
Faumuina Felolini Maria Tafuna’i

My Grandfather is a Canoe by Faumuina Felolini Maria Tafuna'i, July 2021, Flying Geese Pro. Order here for $36.52 (post included)

LAE – Faumuina Felolini Maria Tafuna’i’s first poems appeared in print in ‘Fika – a fictional body of new writing by First Draft Pasefika Writers’ (2008), under the banner of Pacific Arts Creative New Zealand.

Faumuina’s poetry later featured in dried grass over rough-cut logs’, my own collection of 2020, published by the late PNG publisher, poet and essayist, Francis Nii.

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A prosateur writes on best prosateurs

Clive James
Clive James

CLIVE JAMES
| Australian Book Review

The late Clive James (1938-2019), born and raised in Sydney, wrote this review of The Best Australian Essays 2002 (edited by Peter Craven and published by Black Inc) for the May 2003 issue of Australian Book Review (ABR). James was a distinguished critic, poet, author, television performer and journalist. He moved to England in 1961 and remained, but with many visits back home. Among his countless publications are nine poetry collections, four novels, a translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, five volumes of memoirs (most famously Unreliable Memoirs), and many collections of literary and television criticism. He wrote for ABR 20 times between 2001 and 2015. This review is an exemplar of superb essay writing - KJ

CAMBRIDGE, UK - After only four annual volumes, The Best Australian Essays has reached the point where the law of increasing expectations begins to kick in. By now the series has done so much that we want it to do everything.

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Writing in PNG: Kovave & beyond

BooksEVELYN ELLERMAN

In this second extract from ‘Learning to Be a Writer in Papua New Guinea’, Evelyn Ellerman writes of the emergence of student writers at the University of Papua New Guinea from 1967, which led to the development of a home-grown Papua New Guinean literature. Her paper was part of the University of Calgary’s ‘History of Intellectual Culture’ series. Link here to the complete paper - KJ

CALGARY - In the late 1960s, three principal publishing vehicles were associated with the University of Papua New Guinea's Literature Department.

Kovave, an in-house literary journal; Papua Pocket Poets, an in-house poetry series; and a number of externally published collections whose content was gleaned from the journal and the series.

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How PNG's first literary blossoming arrived

Ulli Beier
Ulli Beier - "Drawing  upon nearly  15  years  of  pioneering  work  in  Nigeria,  he  had  some  notion  of  what  he  wanted  to  accomplish in PNG"

EVELYN ELLERMAN

In this extract from ‘Learning to Be a Writer in Papua New Guinea’, Evelyn Ellerman writes of the establishment of the Literature Department at the University of Papua New Guinea in 1967, which led directly to the development of the first shoots of a home-grown Papua New Guinean literature. Her important paper was written as part of the University of Calgary’s ‘History of Intellectual Culture’ series. Link here to Ellerman’s complete paper - KJ

CALGARY - Since so few Melanesians could read and write, the first admission to UPNG was relatively small: in 1966 only  55  students  registered.

Many  of  these  students  were  required  to  take  a  bridging  year  in  order  to improve  their  grasp  of  English.  A  handful  registered  for  the  literature  classes  and began  to  write.

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A brief history of PNG literature, Part 2

Russel Soaba
Russel Soaba wrote the first Papua New Guinean novel written specifically for his own countrymen

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - It wasn’t until 1977 that a Papua New Guinean novel appeared that was targeted at Papua New Guinean readers, Russell Soaba’s Wanpis.

Wanpis (Tok Pisin for a person who is lonely or alone, like an orphan) is about identity and displays an angst that is quintessentially Papua New Guinean.

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A brief history of PNG literature, Part 1

BooksPHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Papua New Guinea has a rich tradition of oral literature which exists to this day.

Vincent Eri’s work of 1970, The Crocodile, was the first novel by a Papua New Guinean, but it seems likely that the first book written by a Papua New Guinean came from the pen of the New Ireland writer, Ligeremaluoga (also known as Osea).

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Young poets leaving no blank pages in history

Dom
Michael Dom

MICHAEL DOM
| Ples Singsing

“Remote models require assimilation. You can learn from the past with little risk of merely aping it as you might ape your contemporaries, or the generation just before your own. A young poet impatient with the assumptions and styles of the present might look for springboards and encouragements in another time” - Robert Pinsky

LAE - Our ancients understood the power of poetry, even if it remained undefined to them.

Their dramatic life events and emotional responses were encapsulated in naïve poetic authenticity and released during their chants and dance, sung tales and oration.

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‘What words dear God / Dear God, what words’

Michael Dom -
Dr Michael Dom - "I like to meet poems one by one. Carefully. Because each one is extracted from someone else's meaning. And everyone has a shadow of madness seeping through them"

MICHAEL DOM

LAE - It's considered axiomatic that ‘words have meaning’, by that I think it is meant that words are used to express real emotion, and not just that words have definitions.

Words here also infer partial and whole sentences, phrases and dialogue.

But I don't think that's the case at all.

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Regarding the perfect Melanesian gentleman

The late Sir Buri and Dame Carol Kidu
The late Sir Buri Kidu, with his wife Dame Carol Kidu, is considered to have exemplified the Melanesian gentleman - ""Quiet, but confident with his profession / An honest expression and eyes that don’t lie"

MICHAEL DOM

LAE – It is my observation that true Papua New Guinean gentlemen respond with quiet confidence, not in brash retaliation.

In 2016, writing to encourage creative and intellectual contributions to the theme of 'The Perfect PNG Gentleman', I wrote:

The article was inspired by the prose poem 'Perfect Gentleman' by Dolorose Atai Wo'otong, which is good to reflect upon in the current situation relating to the University of Papua New Guinea.

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How poetry helps us express feelings

MARIA TAKOLANDER
| The Conversation

MELBOURNE - Poetry has made something of a comeback in popular culture, thanks to America’s Amanda Gorman, who read her performance poems at a presidential inauguration and this year’s Super Bowl. Gorman has been described as bringing poetry to the masses.

However, when it comes to the mainstream, poetry has long been hiding in plain sight. Gorman’s spoken-word performances, which have been compared to hip hop, drew attention to poetry in music lyrics. But poetry is also visible in movies and on TV.

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George Orwell, change & the future

George Orwell
George Orwell described '1984' with its dark vision of the future as a warning. “The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one. Don’t let it happen. It depends on you.”

THE ORWELL FOUNDATION
| Edited extracts

LONDON – George Orwell’s writing was profoundly concerned with social change, the relationship between past, present and future, and what this means for the individual.

His most celebrated and revisited work Nineteen Eighty-Four presented a chilling dystopian vision of the future which still unsettles and provokes today.

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Another PNG book publisher emerges

Baiva  publisher  author and speaker
Shane Baiva - trying to get inspirational books to market

SHANE BAIVA
| Ples Singsing

PORT MORESBY - Young Papua New Guinean authors like Glen Burua, Edward E Isouve, Gerard William Ivalaoa and Nigel V Sine are rising to leave a mark for this generation & generations to come.

I am excited, blessed and so humbled to see these young people doing what they love doing – writing and getting published.

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Reading eclectically is good for the mind

EclecticSIMON DAVIDSON

SONOMA - Reading eclectically is to read books from diverse sources of knowledge - reading a bit of something from everything.

An eclectic reader reads some philosophy, some law, some accounting, and takes a dive into politics, economics, religion, poetry, computer science, political theory, rocket propulsion…. Yes, rocket propulsion.

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He had a phone & he wrote a book

Gerard Ivalaoa with his book ‘70 Reminders of Academic Excellence’
Gerard Ivalaoa with his book ‘70 Reminders of Academic Excellence’ (Ples Singsing)

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – Young author Gerard Ivalaoa struck it lucky after writing an 85,000 word book on his smartphone in the most difficult of circumstances.

After hearing of his achievement, Digicel PNG presented a new Dell laptop and a Samsung smartphone to Gerard, who is of Gulf parentage and lives on the outskirts of Port Moresby in a settlement with no electricity.

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Words that mean more than they say

50000 morePHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - The articles featured in the Anzac Day edition of PNG Attitude had a common theme related to the corrupted mythology of Australia’s leading commemorative event and its emergence as a caricature of reality.

The comments by various authors reflected on the inconvenient truths revealed in the articles or sought to defend some of the mythologies thought to be questionable.

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The continuing mission of a man of peace

Philip
Philip Kai Morre - committed to his God, his church and his people

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – Philip Kai Morre – a regular contributor to our Comments section from Kundiawa in Papua New Guinea - graduated from St Fidelis College in Alexishafen in 1980.

He then completed a preparatory spiritual year in the Catholic Church at Erave in 1981 before progressing to the Holy Spirit Seminary in Bomana near Port Moresby.

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This is how to wrap an essay competition

Latasha Akane
Latasha Akane - "Never stop doing what you’re passionate about. Use your gift to inspire others"

LATASHA LALAAH AKANE
| Ples Singsing

PORT MORESBY - Writing is a hobby of mine and I am passionate about it, although people who know me realise how I can never keep anything short.

But they also know that I willingly compile group assignments, edit people’s work and proofread because I find pleasure in writing.

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Second book blues, but after that it’s easy

Book-bluesPHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Writing the first book is hard but believe me it’s the second one that is really challenging, especially if the first has been a success.

In that second book you have to live up to the expectations you created with the first one.

You can’t write the same book again but there have to be faint echoes of the first one to please your readers.

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Ples Singsing gets a valuable helping hand

Benefactors Daniel Kumbon and Paul Kurai in their beloved mountains
Literary benefactors Daniel Kumbon and Paul Kurai in their beloved mountains of Enga

CAROLINE EVARI
| Ples Singsing

PORT MORESBY - With only two weeks to go before the awards ceremony for the first Tingting Bilong Mi essay competition, we received a pleasant surprise.

It came by way of a comment on the PNG Attitude story by Pat Levo and Keith Jackson, ‘Women Triumph in First Essay Contest.

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Love, grief & the Old Man’s dilemma

SurvivorDANIEL KUMBON

Derived from the short story, ‘The Old Man, His Wife and the Young Girl’, adapted from Daniel Kumbon’s book, ‘Survivor: Alive in Mum’s Loving Arms’ available here from Amazon

FICTION - Rosemary and the Old Man had come across the girl a couple of years before when she sent a random text message to his mobile phone pleading for financial assistance.

The girl claimed to be thirteen and wanting to complete her primary education.

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Tok Pisin’s emergence as a literary language

Dom
Michael Dom - "People think English is the only language ‘good enough’ to demonstrate their capacity to write creatively. This is a silly notion that needs to change in order for PNG to really have a thriving creative writing culture"

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – Michael Dom, an established and most readable poet, has in recent years occasionally delved into the intricacies of translating his poetry between English, Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu.

Translation of this kind is a high art because it goes beyond the literal into often complex metaphors that do not translate readily from one language to another.

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Essay contest delivered some useful lessons

LitKEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – The inaugural Tingting Bilong Mi [My Opinion] essay contest for Papua New Guinean writers under the age of 35 resulted in some great writing.

The contest was the brainchild of Dr Michael Dom and the ‘Mastermind’ team and the topic asked the young writers to expound on the subject of whether the PNG government should set its mind to encouraging and supporting home-grown literature.

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The old man, his wife & the young girl

Baka  Daniel & Jimmy  Gembogl  2016
Writers Baka Bina, Daniel Kumbon and Jimmy Drekore, Gembogl, Simbu Province, 2016

DANIEL KUMBON

WABAG - I have published many books based on facts and actual events, but I haven’t yet attempted a novel.

I guess one road to writing a novel is to first publish short stories.

I attempted a short story just once. It’s included in one of my books, ‘Survivor: Alive in Mum’s Loving Arms’. The title of the fictional tale is the title of this piece.

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The secret public life of an author

_Bama _Dogger _Met1PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - If you write books, people will seek you out.

They will write letters to you, send you emails and come knocking at your door.

Even my abject and humble efforts have had that effect.

_Man bilong buk _Met2 _FightingWhen I lived in Hervey Bay, Queensland, it was a regular occurrence.

I’m not talking about a deluge, but every few months I’d be sought out.

I thought our move to the relatively remote west coast of South Australia would put an end to that. But it hasn’t been the case.

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Writing just for the sake of writing

Phil
Phil Fitzpatrick - "It’s not axiomatic or necessary to seek validation for anything you’ve written through publication"

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - People are motivated to write for all sorts of reasons. At the crudest, to make money.

Some write in the hope of influencing readers to adopt or consider their ideas and opinions. Others because they see a need to record important events.

Of the many reasons, a favourite author of mine, Barbara Kingsolver, summed it up when she said: “Writers will go to stupefying lengths to get the infernal roar of words out of their skulls and onto paper”.

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