Writing & writers Feed

Michael Dom: A young poet comes of age

Michael Dom 2
Michael Dom - "Picks up the ordinary and mundane, and projects it on to a page and makes us see what we are unable see on our own"


26 Sonnets: Contemporary Papua New Guinean Poetry, by Michael Dom, JDT Publications, March 2020, 66pp. ISBN-13: 979-8621-24-062-2

Free download 26 Sonnets eBook by Michael Dom

PORT MORESBY - I have great respect and admiration for the bold and measured language in Michael Dom’s poetry.

Reading this collection assured me that Dom is willing to take up forms of poetry that are structured and articulated through very specific rules of construction.

Continue reading "Michael Dom: A young poet comes of age" »

The other side of the looking glass


TUMBY BAY - I’ve got a host of friends and acquaintances who don’t wholly exist. They all live just shy of the cusp of reality.

Most of them are amalgams and constructs. They contain a good bit of me, elements of people I have known or read about and a fair slab of pure imagination. In short, they are the characters in the stories I write.

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Writing for PNG Attitude


TUMBY BAY - Keith Jackson has got a fairly comprehensive guide to the sort of material he will accept for publication on PNG Attitude but let’s try reading between the lines a bit.

These are, of course, my personal observations.

Writing for PNG Attitude isn’t a great deal different to writing for any other platform, be it digital or hardcopy.

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Mr Marape – we’re still trying to meet

Betty Wakia  Caroline Evari and Jordan Dean
Writers Betty Wakia, Caroline Evari and Jordan Dean await prime minister Marape. “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet,” said Aristotle


PORT MORESBY – To try to get a high level discussion underway on Papua New Guinea literature, we’ve tried on two occasions to meet with prime minister James Marape.

The first time was on Wednesday 22 January after we received information that Mr Marape was willing to meet Betty Wakia , Daniel Kumbon and me in his office at the Manasupe Haus at 2pm the following Friday.

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Of writers, publishers & self-publishers

Herman Melville - his epic book, 'Moby Dick', sold a squillion, but only after his death


TUMBY BAY - Herman Melville (1819-91) published his famous novel, 'Moby Dick', in 1851. Sales were very slow.

The novel was out of print during the last four years of his life, having sold 2,300 copies in its first 18 months and an average of 27 copies a year for the next 34 years for a total of 3,215 copies.

Continue reading "Of writers, publishers & self-publishers" »

Heroes of modern PNG literature


TUMBY BAY - I’ve been ruminating about the successes and failures of Papua New Guinean literature since Keith Jackson and I kicked off the Crocodile Prize in 2010.

In the scheme of things, the prize and what spun out of it was really the only game in town for quite a while. Things were happening elsewhere but not on the same scale.

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Where are the satirists of PNG?

Yokomo - 1960s Papua New Guinean satire?


TUMBY BAY - In 1729 the eminent Anglo-Irish writer, Jonathon Swift, suggested in an essay that the poor of Ireland should consider eating their own babies.

The dissertation was entitled ‘A Modest Proposal For Preventing The Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being A Burden to Their Parents or Country, and For Making Them Beneficial to The Public’.

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A nation without literature

Literature 2
Daniel Kumbon's open letter to prime minister James Marape was published in the PNG Post-Courier yesterday. Will this finally open official doors to the glory of Melanesian literature?


WABAG - “A country without literature and without history is not a country, it’s a collection of disparate people who happen to inhabit the same space,” says Anna Porter about her passion for Canadian literature and her prolific career as one of the country’s most influential publishers.

Imagine Christianity without the Bible, Judaism without the Torah, Muslims without the Quran, Hindu without Bhagavad-Gita, Ramayana and Veda.

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Making a start on a PNG book catalogue

_Croc Prize logoBAKA BINA

PORT MORESBY - Writings about Papua New Guinea and books by Papua New Guinean authors are multiplying but scattered all across the country.

There has never been a central reservoir of information about them. And there should be.

Most of these books are self-published by the authors, sometimes assisted by experienced people like Francis Nii and Jordan Dean, and produced using the Amazon hard copy and Kindle Direct Publishing ebook platforms.

Continue reading "Making a start on a PNG book catalogue" »

PNG writers: What do we try next?

Phil Fitzpatrick at micPHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - It seems as though the latest effort in the form of a writer’s petition to get the Papua New Guinean government interested in a home grown literature has foundered on the rocks of apathy and ignorance once again.

The planning was good and there was a wave of optimism in the form of a new prime minister to finally bring the government to its senses but it wasn’t to be.

Continue reading "PNG writers: What do we try next?" »

God the writer

The 404 year old King James Bible is ceremonially borne into the PNG parliament
The 404 year old King James Bible is ceremonially borne into the PNG parliament


TUMBY BAY - The world is awash with self-help books. No matter what the subject, they promise you advice that will solve all your problems.

Self-help literature is an industry in its own right. The motives of its authors range from the naked desire to make a buck out of gullible suckers to a genuine desire to be helpful.

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This strange compulsion

Clive James - of all the things that made him famous, he preferred to be known as a writer


TUMBY BAY - I’m not sure about the antecedents of Facebook, Twitter and all the other social media platforms but it is easy to trace the ancestry of the modern day blog.

The first blogs appeared in the mid-1600s as a product of the debate leading to the English Civil War.

Continue reading "This strange compulsion" »

Clive James wrote me a poem

Sally Jackson on Clive James - "At some point he wrote me a poem...."


SYDNEY - Sad to hear Clive James has died ... I loved his books.

My Clive story: I got to interview him once a long time ago at his favourite cafe in Circular Quay, and we got on like a house on fire, talking about reading and low carb dieting.

And went on to have more lunches.

Continue reading "Clive James wrote me a poem" »

A soul in need of nurture

Marlene Potoura cropped
Marlene Potoura


TUMBY BAY - Marlene Dee Grey Potoura is a very talented writer. Whether her stories and books are aimed at adults or children they invariably land in exactly the right spot.

She can write about tragedy with deep feeling and about humour with a whimsical mischievousness. In short she is an accomplished and skilful writer.

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Push the power of the pen

Power to the pen
"True development comes not when more money comes into the treasury but when the mindset changes"


SONOMA – The words of writers live longer than the ploys of many politicians. Writers influence every successive generation. Their legacy lasts long.

I believe in the power of writing and it is a power that has no peer.

The world is changing and Papua New Guinea is changing in terms of buildings and roads and education and international relationships and development.

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Goodbye, Great Australian Novel

Chris Overland
Chris Overland - "My work was routinely returned covered in corrections until, after an arduous apprenticeship, I achieved true mastery of the language of bureaucracy"


ADELAIDE –Phil Fitzpatrick’s useful words from a wordsmith made me realise that, in some respects at least, we have both trodden the same etymological path.

This makes perfect sense given that we are both former South Australian public servants.

Like Phil, my induction into the dark arts of public service writing was swift and brutal.

Continue reading "Goodbye, Great Australian Novel" »

Some useful words from a wordsmith


TUMBY BAY - Writing skills, like most things, develop over time. While the technicalities can be taught the actual skill derives from aptitude, practice, reading and personal experience.

After a lifetime spent writing I find the process fairly easy, mostly painless and decidedly pleasurable.

That doesn’t mean that what I write is particularly good, it just means that it comes a lot easier than it did when I was young.

Continue reading "Some useful words from a wordsmith" »

Paul Oates: A kiap’s progress

Paul Oates as a young kiap - "Paul’s easy-going relationships with the people he’s working among shines through," Phil writes


Small Steps Along the Way by Paul Oates, independently published, 2019, 241 pages, ISBN: 9781707077939, available from Amazon.com, $AU22.03, including postage or AU$2.91 as an eBook, from Amazon in the USA or download without cost from the strapline at the top of this page. Many thanks to Paul Oates for making it freely available to our readers

TUMBY BAY - We’ve been talking about the potency of literature on PNG Attitude for many years now and how it contributes to the creation story of communities and nations alike.

Further to that has been the notion that literature actually forms a society’s view of itself and reflects upon how it develops in the future.

Continue reading "Paul Oates: A kiap’s progress" »

Paul Oates: A look in the mirror

Former chalkie Dick Arnold with Paul Oates in 2009, about the time Paul first met Keith Jackson


GOLD COAST - I initially started writing about my Papua New Guinea experiences to contribute to those others of my line who also shared their experiences on websites like Ex-Kiap and, after Keith Jackson discovered my story about a PNG Christmas, I appeared regularly on PNG Attitude.

What started to become a catharsis over my long put aside experiences, then blossomed as I became a grandfather and wanted to relate what life was like when I was young.

The PNG experiences are virtually just one large chapter in my life’s story which is still a work in progress.

Continue reading "Paul Oates: A look in the mirror" »

The legacy of the pen

Pen and man
Justin Kundalin - "Here’s an opportunity to give Papua New Guineans a literature that will elevate them and last them through time"


SONOMA - One of the top questions leaders must ask themselves should not be, “How can I build my ego when I’m at the top?”

It should be, “What kind of legacy will we leave when we’re gone?”

A judicious person once answered this question by saying, “Leave the world better than you found it.”

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The pen is mightier than politics

Justin Kundalin
Justin Kundalin - "Wealth may build the nation, but it’s the pen that will shape it"


SONOMA - I believe in the power of pen, not the political ploys of crooked leaders.

“The pen is mightier than the sword,” wrote the English novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, referring to the writers of the world invisibly exercising an influence upon people more titanic than soldiers.

I want to paraphrase it by saying, “The pen is mightier than politics”.

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A project for our children

Betty Wakia  Daniel Kumbon and Caroline Evari in Port Moresby
Betty Wakia,  Daniel Kumbon and Caroline Evari in Port Moresby


PORT MORESBY – During one of our meetings to prepare for our much hoped for presentation to prime minister James Marape, writer Caroline Evari’s two young children joined us.

I don’t know what they thought of their mother, Betty Wakia and I working on our letter to Mr Marape but, when they grow up, I believe they will know their mother was doing this for them and thousands of others like them in Papua New Guinea.

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How literature can deliver for PNG

Wabag library with few books
This maroon building at Wabag Primary School housing a school library but very few books, just as in most schools of PNG


PORT MORESBY - It was like slowly scaling the steep ice-covered walls of Mt Everest. Hoping to make it, but not really knowing.

Three writers waiting for more than a month in Port Moresby to present a petition to prime minister James Marape.

A petition signed by more than 300 people seeking that the Papua New Guinea government recognise and support PNG literature.

Continue reading "How literature can deliver for PNG" »

Do politicians actually read books?

Phil Fitzpatrick
Phil Fitzpatrick - "Perhaps politicians see an educated and literate public as a danger"


TUMBY BAY - When Keith Jackson and I were managing the Crocodile Prize in the years after 2011 when it was conceived, we debated whether it might be a good idea to seek the support of government.

On the one hand the funding government could inject into the prize would have been valuable. But on the other hand, the meddling, self-aggrandisement and corruption that might have come attached to that money was strong.

Continue reading "Do politicians actually read books?" »

Let's give PNG a reading culture

Caroline Evari - "I decided that, as part of my journey promoting PNG literature, I would try to find the underlying cause of the claimed ‘not reading culture’."


PORT MORESBY - The statement, ‘PNG does not have a reading culture’, kept popping up among authors and publishers gathered at the National Library during the National Book Fair in October.

“What’s the point of writing and publishing books, if people are not reading them,” asked Professor Steven Winduo during the week, which had the hopeful theme, ‘PNG Books, PNG Knowledge, PNG Stories - Read PNG’.

Continue reading "Let's give PNG a reading culture" »

Questions you should never ask a writer

Baka Bina - "One thing is certain, Billymore, while you dither about certification, all the old people who have the knowledge and traditions of your family, clan and tribe are fast dying"


"Is the group or the writers recognised by higher tertiary institutions like UOG, UPNG, linguistic institutions etc? Has their research work being recognised and acknowledged by NRI and appropriate institutions? How many research work have they undertaken, recognised and certified by appropriate institutions, authors and writers? Is/are the literature organizations aware of the existence of these writers? Have they followed all protocols to be recognised as writers? Is this letter a short cut to be recognised and rewarded? Other questions reserved...." - Billymore Rakatani, Facebook

PORT MORESBY - Billymore should be told to also read sites like PNG Attitude. If he does he will know that writing is not easy.

Writing non-fiction is not easy. In stories, a writer must try to capture the small moments where emotions speak.

Continue reading "Questions you should never ask a writer" »

Dear James Marape, we writers await you

Betty Daniel and Caroline
Betty Wakia, Daniel Kumbon and Caroline Evari in Port Moresby writing the letter to prime minister James Marape


PORT MORESBY –If anybody close to the prime minister reads this, and if you think it’s as important as we do, please mention it to James Marape.

Please tell him that a letter on behalf of Papua New Guinea’s writers, editors and publishers sits waiting in his office.

The letter is from three writers who represent many hundreds of our authors, poets, essayists and other writers.

We are Caroline Evari, Betty Wakia and me, Daniel Kumbon.

Continue reading "Dear James Marape, we writers await you" »

A book about the challenges of our time

Samantha Kusari
Samantha Kusari - "Uphold our cultural identity and treat children with the respect they deserve"


When the River Destroys by Samantha Kusari, Pukpuk Publications, 2015, 104 pages. ISBN 1517034299. Kindle $US0.92, Paperback $US5.38. Order here from Amazon or contact Samantha by email here

PORT MORESBY - Caroline Evari interviews writer Samantha Kusari about her story of a young boy growing up in a village in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea in the years just before and after independence in 1975. The story is loosely based on the early life of Samantha’s father.

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How I was able to share my blessings

Are pic
In front of a massive poster of her poem, Dominica is awarded first prize in the World Food Day poetry competition


GOROKA - It was Tuesday 8 October during the lunch break. Everyone went out and I was alone in the office with my thoughts.

It was serene. The air crisp and cool. The fresh smell of roasted coffee floated by.

And I stared hard at the blank page before me, pondering on what I would write.

Continue reading "How I was able to share my blessings" »

The funny business of editing


TUMBY BAY - I like reading autobiographies and biographies, especially those relating to writers.

I recently finished reading a biography of Joseph Heller, the American author of several novels, including the famous Catch 22.

In the process I discovered that Heller was influenced by a book written in 1923 by Jároslav Hašek called The Good Soldier Švejk.

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Contrarians & writers needed more than ever


TUMBY BAY - Bernard Corden, in commenting on Chris Overland’s article about neo-colonialism, made an interesting point about indoctrination as a function of education.

For the ruling classes in any political system - be it democratic, autocratic or totalitarian - inculcating an ideology in the young is an invaluable tool in exercising and retaining power.

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My journey as a writer: Spreading the word(s)

Evari - Pacific Adventist University Creative Writing Class
The Pacific Adventist University creative writing class


PORT MORESBY – I saw a Facebook post the other day that read “you may never know where your passion can take you, unless you pick it up and run with it”.

Well, since my last article on my journey as a Papua New Guinean author, I’ve been running with it.

In doing this I have visited five schools to talk about writing and hosted a free information session at the National Library on writing and publishing.

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Literature petition update: getting round the roadblock


PORT MORESBY – Here’s a brief update about our bid to petition prime minister James Marape to promote literature in Papua New Guinea.

Since being in the national capital I have met with petition organisers Caroline Evari and Betty Wakia for the first time.

It appears that the petition had reached an anti-climax, if not a full stop.

Betty was told that prime minister James Marape was busy so she left it at that.

Caroline was given a quotation for over K8,000 by one of the national newspapers if the petition was to be published as an advertisement.

Continue reading "Literature petition update: getting round the roadblock" »

National Book Week should stimulate tangible benefits


KUNDIAWA - It is high time the meaningless and vain annual National Book Week was changed to make it become the vehicle for stimulating tangible benefits to writers and readers.

Every August features National Book Week. In Papua New Guinea gaudy banners of all sizes rustle in the dusty wind. Written on them is an ostensibly witty theme that nobody cares about.

Empty-minded school children in colourful uniforms fill the city arena for the annual event.

For them, it is one of those playtimes. Their predecessors have celebrated it and so will those who come after them.

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Marape’s great opportunity to boost home-grown literature

Francis Nii
Francis Nii - "We struggle to produce our own literature hoping that one day a good leader will rise up and see its importance"


KUNDIAWA - Writing and publishing our own Papua New Guinean stories in the absence of government or donor agency support is a daunting and painful experience.

But we write because stories are part of our culture and books are repositories of our culture. What is it the authorities don’t understand?

I would like to relay the many struggles and hardships I went through to get my first book published only to find there is a trifling level of readership in Papua New Guinea. My story, unfortunately, is similar to many PNG authors.

I started writing, mainly poetry, in the 1980s while doing my economics degree at the University of Papua New Guinea and published in Ondobondo and the PNG Writers’ Union magazine.

Some of the poems were later republished in a collection by lecturer Ganga Powell with Macmillan Press Australia in a book titled, ‘Through Melanesian Eyes’, now available on Amazon.

My first serious writing, a novel, came in in 2003-04 while I was recuperating at Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Hospital in Kundiawa from a near fatal motor vehicle accident.

Continue reading "Marape’s great opportunity to boost home-grown literature" »

PNG’s writers still await appointment with prime minister


PORT MORESBY – It’s National Book Week this week with the theme, ‘Upgrade your Knowledge (IQ) – Read!’.

Meanwhile, the delivery of the PNG writers’ petition to the Papua New Guinea government is still pending.

“One of the major pillars of building a knowledge society is by reading books, being literate, and having greater access to library and information services, and lifelong learning,” stated director-general of the PNG National Library and Archives, Kaksi Kakaito.

Apart from building knowledge in society, books carry stories of culture and traditions and stories of our people.

Continue reading "PNG’s writers still await appointment with prime minister" »

Tips on writing poetry

Ward Barry (2)
Ward Barry - one of PNG's most prolific and well read poets


SONOMA - Upon the request of a dear friend, I have come up with some tips on writing poetry.

Notice I said “tips on writing poetry”, not “tips on writing good poetry”. Whether a poem is good or not depends on the individual.

We write and rewrite, then write and rewrite again, and repeat the whole process until we feel good about it. But that doesn’t make the poem any better.

So here are my tips on writing poetry. Take what works for you and pass on the rest.

  1. Read

There are no shortcuts to writing poetry. If you want to write poetry, you must first read poetry.

There are many poets and many incredible works. Read and learn from William Shakespeare, Katherine Philips and Robert Frost who continue to awe audiences around the world.

Also read Papua New Guinean poets and see how they utilise the local context in their content.

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Focus on PNG culture as writers’ petition moves to final stage

Emil Tammur
Emil Tammur - "“When the oil and gas and minerals dry up, it is our cultures that can sustain us”


PORT MORESBY - Two prominent Papua New Guineans have called for a cultural revival in Papua New Guinea at the same time as PNG’s writers put the finishing touches on a petition for prime minister James Marape.

“Papua New Guinea’s cultural heritage defines who we are,” said Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Emil Tammur launching the National Cultural Commission’s corporate plan.

“Without culture and tradition we have no identity, no soul.

“If you look at some of the more successful economies of the world – Japan or China or Korea – behind the economic success story there lies a social and cultural background that is the heart and soul of that nation,” he said.

“Culture is what makes them different, what makes them proud and what gives them an identity.”

Similar words have been used by the authors of the literary manifesto that PNG writers intend to present to Mr Marape soon.

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Huge response to petition to strengthen PNG literature

FlagAt last count, 315 people from around the world have signed a petition asking the Marape government to make home-grown literature in Papua New Guinea a powerful cultural & social force. 

Many of PNG's best known writers have shown their support and have been joined by supporters of a strong PNG literature from within PNG, across Australia and around the world.

These people understand the struggle of PNG's authors, short story writers, poets and commentators to have their books and magazines available especially in schools, universities and libraries.

Prime minister James Marape will be asked to help bring PNG's talented writers to the world and, more importantly, to the people of Papua New Guinea.  

Download Petition & Names here

Continue reading "Huge response to petition to strengthen PNG literature" »

A writer's journey: From secret jottings to first published book

Iso Yawi and books
Iso Yawi


God, My Country and Me by Iso Yawi, paperback, JDT Publications, May 2019. ISBN-10: 1071009486. Amazon Books, US$6.50 plus postage

LAE - I started penning short stories in small notebooks with no audience at all. It was my secret.

I was too shy to put my writing on platforms to be viewed by people, even fellow students and friends. My grammar was too bad.

My English language and literature exercise book was filled with red marks correcting my grammatical errors.

Yes, grammar was too complex for me to understand back in those high school days. However those red marks of correction motivated me.

I would say to myself, “I will write a book one day and turn things the other way around!”

After leaving school, I still wrote and also developed a reading habit. I realised that, to overcome my problem with grammar, I had to read a lot of books.

Continue reading "A writer's journey: From secret jottings to first published book" »

Outpouring of support in plea for survival of PNG literature

In the Chimbu highlands in 2017, I tell the students and teachers of Barengigl that their principal Roslyn Tony has just been published in a Papua New Guinean book. A rare event anywhere in PNG


NOOSA – A huge number of friends of Papua New Guinean literature - authors and readers from around the world - have signed a manifesto drafted by Phil Fitzpatrick asking prime minister James Marape to commit his government to provide support and recognition for PNG writers and literature.

This morning 150 people had shown their support, with many not only signing but offering reinforcing comments for the Marape government to consider.

The manifesto is the centerpiece of a petition organised by Caroline Evari that will be handed to Mr Marape and other senior politicians in the PNG parliament in an effort to provide home-grown literature with a solid foundation.

The manifesto seeks to stimulate meaningful, tangible and scaled up governmental and institutional support for PNG creative writing by influential people who will understand, endorse and support investment in literature as a transformative force in PNG society, education, culture and nation-building.

The truth is that the renaissance of PNG literature that began in 2011 is running out of steam and is in danger of stalling.

Continue reading "Outpouring of support in plea for survival of PNG literature" »

Beyond the petition: Filling a gaping chasm in cultural integrity

Books 2
Can PNG transform the promise of literature into the social, cultural and economic force it can be?


You can help the development of a home-grown literature
in Papua New Guinea by adding your name and a message
of support using the Comments link below 

NOOSA – Successive national and foreign governments and organisations have directed development aid to a range of programs in Papua New Guinea – some successful, too many not.

But in doing so they have overlooked a huge cultural influence that not only represents the beating heart and animated spirit of the nation but is also a bearer of learning, personal understanding and social cohesion.

The marvel to which I refer is a hardy creation that refuses to die even when denied nurture, encouragement and recognition.

It is a home-grown literature that will amplify the creativity,  culture and spirit of Papua New Guineans.

But, lacking the required support, literature has not emerged in PNG as an influence capable of playing its vital role in education, in nation building or in people’s lives.

Continue reading "Beyond the petition: Filling a gaping chasm in cultural integrity" »

Unfinished journey: Francis Nii & the struggle for PNG literature

Francis Nii & the green hills of Simbu
Francis Nii in his wheelchair amidst the green hills of Simbu - a monumental contribution to the literature of Papua New Guinea from his bed at Kundiawa Hospital


PORT MORESBY - The twisted metal of a motor vehicle accident in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands nearly brought Francis Nii’s story to a dramatic end.

The crash, at the start of 1999, left him forever paralysed from the waist down and brought his promising career as an economist and financial adviser to a sudden halt.

Francis, now 56, speaks softly and chooses his words carefully, but behind this gentle nature is an immense inner-strength that has served him well in the most trying of circumstances.

“There were moments I saw death coming,” he says.

“But every time I looked at the faces of my three daughters, there was this immeasurable power and energy unleashed in me to fight to stay alive and see them grow to womanhood and live lives of their own.

Continue reading "Unfinished journey: Francis Nii & the struggle for PNG literature" »

Writers of PNG - Now is the time to look your govt in the eye


TUMBY BAY - Perhaps the time has come for the writers of Papua New Guinea – authors, journalists, poets, commentators and others including publishers and illustrators - to look your government in the eye and make a statement.

Perhaps it is time to petition prime minister James Marape and other ministers and seek the government’s support for an authentic and home-grown Papua New Guinean literature - a literature that will help turbo-charge the serious nation-building task that lies ahead.

I propose here a draft form of words that can be sent to Mr Marape, together with the names of all the writers and readers who believe that PNG literature needs more than a thumbs up, it needs real practical support.

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