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Diction: terse, complex, specific

Shakespeare
Image source: https://insidestory.org.au/shakespeare-goes-viral/ Text source: https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/diction

MICHAEL DOM

Noun: diction

The choice and use of words and phrases in speech or writing.
"Wordsworth campaigned against exaggerated poetic diction"

The style of enunciation in speaking or singing.
"She began imitating his careful diction"

PORT MORESBY - It could be argued that ‘diction’ is what poets are all about, but we all know that that’s too simplistic a notion and we don’t get off the hook so easily with trying to know what poetry is all about.

However, diction is undoubtedly an important element of a poem, or for prose writing and, in fact, for language use in general.

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A good plan for PNG literature

Fighting
Establishing a sustainable literature in Papua New Guinea has always been a struggle and it's a fight not yet won. Phil's book, 'Fighting for a Voice', tells the story

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY – Someday soon perhaps, Papua New Guinean prime minister James Marape will put away his golf clubs and meet with a delegation of writers.

These writers, twice stood up by Mr Marape already, are hoping to present him with a petition calling for the PNG government to support a national literature that deserves recognition and requires support.

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Standing up & starting small

Caroline Evari and students from Caritas Elementary school in Port Moresby
Caroline Evari with students from Caritas Elementary school in Port Moresby

CAROLINE EVARI

PORT MORESBY - It is almost a year now since I started the campaign to promote writing and publishing in Papua New Guinea - also advocating the need to write our own stories as Papua New Guineans.

As I reflect on this journey so far, my memory settles particularly on the preparations leading to a trip I took to Oro Province in late October last year.

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14 PNG entries in richest poetry prize

Leonard Cohen (Graham Hughes)
A mural of the famous songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen, one of the original sponsors of the Montreal Prize, looks down on Montreal city (Graham Hughes)

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA - Fourteen Papua New Guinean writers have submitted entries to the Montreal (Canada) International Prize for Poetry, the first time that PNG has been represented in one of the world’s major poetry contests.

The poets - six women and eight men - are Caroline Evari, Michael Dom, Wardley Barry, Bessielah David, Simon Davidson, Jordan Dean, Jimmy Drekore, Raymond Sigimet, Stephanie Alois, Dominica Are, Joseph Tambure, Tattiana Abola, Eric Molong and Melanie Lavaki.

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'Tok-singsing': Giving back to PNG

Author's small stash of gold
An author's small stash of gold

MICHAEL DOM

"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" - Keith Jackson AM, 'The chasm in PNG's cultural integrity'

PORT MORESBY - Here's the thing. If we want Papua New Guinean literature to have its own life we must do more than create it, we must interact with it, nurture it in our thoughts and conversations, and appraise it to the realities and imaginations of our society.

That means reading and discussing, sharing and critiquing, in mutual respect, the value and utility of our works, with our peers and to our readers.

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We don’t need to understand everything

Michael Dom 2
Michael Dom - “I have no idea what it means to readers, I just write the stuff down to appease the voices in my head"

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Bernard Corden recently observed in PNG Attitude that when singer-songwriter Don McLean was asked what on earth the lyrics in the song American Pie meant his response was: "It means I will never have to work again."

Bernard’s comment followed a discussion about what on earth Michael Dom’s poem, The Man in the Mirror actually means.

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Heroes of modern PNG literature

Phil
Phil Fitzpatrick - a pioneer of the 21st century revival in Papua New Guinea literature

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

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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The chasm in cultural integrity

Kj
Keith Jackson - "The apparent demise of the Crocodile Prize reflects dismally on the government’s commitment to the cultural and social force of home-grown literature; a force that can be such a critical component of nation-building and social strengthening"

KEITH JACKSON

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.

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The creation of a poet: Words in retrospect

Michael DomMICHAEL DOM

PORT MORESBY - An important, and still continuing, experience for me was finding and participating in the PNG Attitude blog and the associated Crocodile Prize national literary contest.

It is not possible for me to overstate the profound influence of the blog and the Crocodile Prize on my own writing achievements and their influence on the literary output of Papua New Guinea’s writers and thinkers.

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Can you win this big poetry contest?

PrizeKEITH JACKSON

NOOSA - The Montreal International Poetry Prize has just one winner – but the award is a big one, about K50,000 to the writer of that single poem.

The Montreal Prize is organised by the department of English at Canada’s McGill University and this year’s judge is Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Yusef Komunyakaa.

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Dom’s poetry receives Pacific praise

Faumuina
Faumuina Tafuna'i

FAUMUINA FELOLINI MARIA TAFUNA’I
| Flying Geese Productions

CHRISTCHURCH - Poet Michael Dom’s two newest books are being praised for their illumination of life in Papua New Guinea and as a “treasure chest of a special type of poetry”.

Dried Grass over Rough Cut Logs and 26 Sonnets: Contemporary Papua New Guinean Poetry were launched this month.

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‘Cry Me a River’ - the encore

Encore to Cry Me a RiverBAKA BINA

PORT MORESBY - You may have read now the four stories in my ‘Cry Me a River’ flash fiction series #1 here, #2 here, #3 here and #4 here.

Trying to craft out a series during the 14 day state of emergency lockdown was not easy given the rubbish that was put out on Facebook. This was my attempt to provide alternate reading material.

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A dangerous year for poetry

Phil
Phil Fitzpatrick - ready to publish a collection of PNG poetry in the year of the plague

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA - Author, kiap, anthropologist and PNG Attitude bulwark, Phil Fitzpatrick, has emerged with a wonderful proposal for Papua New Guinea’s poets to motivate them to inspiration in this, the year of the plague

“I thought I might experiment this year and collect poems that appear on PNG Attitude that appeal to me or attract positive comments from readers,” Phil writes.

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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"

STEVEN WINDUO

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.

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The other side of the looking glass

CharactersPHIL FITZPATRICK

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

AttPHIL FITZPATRICK

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

CAROLINE EVARI

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

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

PHIL FITZPATRICK

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.

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Heroes of modern PNG literature

CrocPHIL FITZPATRICK

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.

Continue reading "Heroes of modern PNG literature" »


Where are the satirists of PNG?

Yokomo
Yokomo - 1960s Papua New Guinean satire?

PHIL FITZPATRICK

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?

JUSTIN KUNDALIN

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.

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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.

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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

PHIL FITZPATRICK

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

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

PHIL FITZPATRICK

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.

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Clive James wrote me a poem

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

SALLY JACKSON

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.

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A soul in need of nurture

Marlene Potoura cropped
Marlene Potoura

PHIL FITZPATRICK

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"

JUSTIN KUNDALIN

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"

CHRIS OVERLAND

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.

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Some useful words from a wordsmith

WriterPHIL FITZPATRICK

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.

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Paul Oates: A kiap’s progress

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

PHIL FITZPATRICK

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.

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Paul Oates: A look in the mirror

Arnold_Oates_280109
Former chalkie Dick Arnold with Paul Oates in 2009, about the time Paul first met Keith Jackson

PAUL OATES

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.

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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"

JUSTIN KUNDALIN

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"

JUSTIN KUNDALIN

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

DANIEL KUMBON

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

DANIEL KUMBON

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"

PHIL FITZPATRICK

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.

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Let's give PNG a reading culture

Books
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’."

CAROLINE EVARI

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’.

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Questions you should never ask a writer

Baka
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"

BAKA BINA

"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.

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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

DANIEL KUMBON

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"

CAROLINE EVARI

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

DOMINICA ARE

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.

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