Writing & writers Feed

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.”

Continue reading "The legacy of the pen" »

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.

Continue reading "A project for our children" »

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.

Continue reading "A book about the challenges of our time" »

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.

Continue reading "The funny business of editing" »

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.

Continue reading "Contrarians & writers needed more than ever" »

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.

Continue reading "My journey as a writer: Spreading the word(s)" »

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.

Continue reading "National Book Week should stimulate tangible benefits" »

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.

Continue reading "Tips on writing poetry" »

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.

Continue reading "Focus on PNG culture as writers’ petition moves to final stage" »

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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Caroline Evari tells: ‘Nanu Sina’ came from deepest emotions

Nanu SinaLEIAO GEREGA | PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY - Imagine reading through a collection of poems only find out that they were written throughout a decade by a young woman struggling through life.

The 85-page book of poems mostly came as an extraction from a young writer’s Grades 11 and 12 school journal and is titled ‘Nanu Sina’ (‘My Words’).

Looking back on her journey, Caroline Evari of Popondetta, who penned her poems as a way to express her emotions while a student in Port Moresby, does not feel that her journey was unique from any other young Papua New Guineans navigating through life.

Her book captures a decade journey and discusses the four main themes based on conflict, relationships, hope and family and raises questions on fear doubt, love, regret, persistence, motherhood and children.

“I wrote in the evenings during study times, early in the mornings and during quiet times,” says Caroline reflecting on the time it took to write her poems.

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Getting PNG literature recognised as a nation building tool

Kumbon - James Marape  Dr Lino Tom  Peter Mision Yaki
James Marape with Dr Lino Jeremiah Tom and Peter Mision Yaki and two of my books. Photo taken at Laguna Camp just a few days before Marape was elected prime minister by an overwhelming majority


WABAG - I was privileged to present two copies of my books to James Marape a few days before he was elected the eighth prime minister of Papua New Guinea.

Enga governor Sir Peter Ipatas, Wabag MP Dr Lino Tom, education secretary Dr Ulke Kombra, two national court judges, school principals, bookshop managers and other prominent people have also received copies of the four books I have published so far.

I belong to a group of emerging PNG authors, essayists, poets and social commentators who have steadily published books in the last few years due mainly to the Crocodile Prize annual literary competition.

But not many people including students ever get to read any of these published works.

The education department has made no effort to ensure schools in our country have PNG authored book are on the shelves of their libraries, which would ensure suitable titles for students to read.

In this way students will comprehend and relate more to PNG authored books than foreign books with unfamiliar cultures, ways of life and scenes.

After I presented my books to James Marape and the other leaders, I am optimistic the new government will at least see the significance of literature and the role it plays in nation building.

Continue reading "Getting PNG literature recognised as a nation building tool" »

My journey as a writer – Part I

Caroline Evari
Caroline Evari discusses her writing with children at the Koro International School last week


PORT MORESBY - Not knowing where my journey in writing would take me, I kept brushing away the idea of getting my long overdue collection of poems published. One reason: Fear.

Fear that people may not like my poems. Fear that I may not have the money to pay for publication. Fear of what other people would say about me.

I had a colleague who discovered my talent in writing and introduced me to the Crocodile Prize literary competition in 2013.  The journey from then gave me a whole new perception.

When I realised that people liked my writing, I became so determined to improve.

As I told in my recent interview with Betty Wakia, ‘Choose to rise above every circumstance,’ I tried networking with other writers.

It wasn’t easy because I had a demanding job, but I made every opportunity count. I wrote for websites, blogs, participated in writing prompts and created my own blog.

Continue reading "My journey as a writer – Part I" »

Sheena’s writing journey: The hobby that became a way of life

Sheena Simololo - "When our traditions are translated to the written word, we are helping to preserve them"


Link here to Sheena Simelolo’s beautiful heritage story, The Kitoro

PORT MORESBY - Today Sheena Simelolo inspires a new generation of writers as an English literature tutor at the University of Goroka, but her own love of writing was sparked years before as a secondary student.

She was challenged by a teacher at Marianville Secondary School in Port Moresby, who had taken note of Sheena’s burgeoning literary interest and challenged her to put pen to paper.

“I started writing because of school,” Sheena said, “a defining moment was when I was in Grade 10 – my English teacher, Ms Rosa Kedarosi, made us write short fictional stories every weekend.

“She would either give us the beginning or the ending and it was up to us to complete the story.

“I was always interested in writing short stories – I was a great reader and most of my writing was inspired by the books I read.

“I loved reading books that were based on true stories or that depicted real-life situations.”

Sheena’s writing flourished and upon completing high school she decided to study for a Bachelor of Education, Language and Literature at the University of Goroka, where her passion transformed in to a way of life.

Continue reading "Sheena’s writing journey: The hobby that became a way of life" »

Why we need to write – it’s a pathway to success


SONOMA - We need to write to develop our mind, generate new ideas and clarify our thinking.

Yet the reality is that it’s hard being a writer. Literary work is not jolly work. Literary success comes on the back of hard work and the expenditure of mental energy.

The art, craft and business of writing takes time, focus and significant effort to conjure, organise, visualize, develop characters and stories and then interpret this into the written word that readers will understand and enjoy.

To compound this problem are the myriad shiny distractions that fill our lives. In such a world, it is easy to procrastinate and forgo the ideas that are meant to stir our souls and the world.

But we write anyway, in spite of all this. So why do we need to write?

Continue reading "Why we need to write – it’s a pathway to success" »

Herick’s fictional tales capture the true human spirit

Herick Aeno
Herick Aeno - "“Writing is a powerful tool that can change how people think and react towards issues and situations”


You can read here Herick Arno’s riveting short story, The Not Forgotten

PORT MORESBY - Herick Aeno is a social researcher by day, but by night he is transformed into a short story writer who uses fiction as a means to explore Papua New Guinea’s socio-cultural issues.

Originally from Eastern Highlands and still based in Goroka, Herick’s work with the PNG Institute of Medical Research takes him to remote parts of the country to conduct sexual and reproductive health studies.

His research helps the Institute provide vital information on health issues to the National Department of Health and other development partners.

On these journeys he has come across the desperation faced by people in remote areas and this has served as an inspiration for his fiction writing.

“Part of my work includes writing for publication in academic journals,” Herick said.

“I have also developed an interest in capturing experiences and issues I come across in communities throughout PNG.

Continue reading "Herick’s fictional tales capture the true human spirit" »

How to make a bit of money as a book author in PNG

Jordan Dean
Jordan Dean provides some good practical advice on how to publish your book in Papua New Guinea


PORT MORESBY - Self-publishing is a blessing for Papua New Guinean writers. But, while CreateSpace and Amazon Kindle have eased our publishing woes, there are some downsides.

Many PNG authors lack the business acumen and haven’t sold a single copy of their books on Amazon.

Writing tends to be a solitary endeavour, but marketing (selling) and communicating with potential readers, is a social process.

It requires you to put your book out there for the world to see - and hopefully buy.

After selling over 500 copies of my five books (including donating copies to book drives and libraries around the country), I am far from been a New York Times best seller, so I am not claiming to be a publishing expert.

But there are some insights I’ve learnt over the years. I’ll share a few of them here.

Continue reading "How to make a bit of money as a book author in PNG" »

My words on a poetic tour de force from Caroline Evari

Caroline Evari
Caroline Evari poses with her new collection of poetry, Nanu Sina


BRISBANE - I had the good fortune to mentor Papua New Guinean writer Caroline Evari who has just published a new collection of poetry, ‘Nanu Sina: My Words’.

It is an exciting time as Caroline celebrates this success, and in the interview with Betty Wakia that follows, she reflects on how she maximised the sparse moments between the manic juggling of career, life demands and motherhood.

In these moments, Caroline created, drafted redrafted and refined her manuscript before submitting it to Port Moresby-based publisher, JDT Publications, run by Jordan Dean.

It is also a joyous time as family, friends, colleagues and fellow writers have been forthcoming in praising and admiring the book’s publication.

Amongst all this, Caroline continues to diligently attend to the significant task required of published authors - promoting and marketing her work to engage with a wide audience and, of course, sell books.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are accessible, low-cost and wide-reaching social-media platforms available for effective online marketing. And PNG Attitude was quick off the mark with a first review of the book which Keith Jackson described as “a collection of sublime Melanesian verse from a poet of perception.”

Continue reading "My words on a poetic tour de force from Caroline Evari" »

Caroline Evari: ‘Choose to rise above every circumstance….’

Caroline Evari
Caroline Evari
Betty Wakia (2)
Betty Wakia


BETTY WAKIA: Why did you decide to call your recently published collection of poems, ‘Nanu Sina’?

CAROLINE EVARI: ‘Nanu Sina’ simply means ‘my words’. I chose this title because, as you read through the book, you will notice most of the poems are basically my own thoughts related to my personal experiences and observations.

BETTY: Can you tell us what sort of poems are in this book?

CAROLINE: The book is divided into four parts - Conflicts, Relationships, Hope and Family. In each, you will find poems that resonate with the theme. For example, under Conflict, you find poems that talk about war, doubt and fear and under Relationships there are poems about love and friendship.

BETTY: How did your environment and upbringing colour you’re writing?

CAROLINE: Both have had a huge impact on my writing. Growing up, I never openly shared my challenges with the people around me. Because most of the poems have been extracted from my Grades 11 and 12 school journals, they are basically my way of expressing my fear, disappointments, hopes and dreams for an envisioned future. My journal was a place for me to confide in, so I wrote and wrote without stopping because I found writing a way of relieving stress.

Continue reading "Caroline Evari: ‘Choose to rise above every circumstance….’" »

Writers’ motives remain; but disruption is wreaking havoc

Phil 2015
Phil Fitzpatrick - "Gone is the romantic idea that being a writer is somehow glamorous"


TUMBY BAY - Writers write for all sorts of reasons, some obvious and some obscure. And what they write about is often dictated by the avenues open to them to engage with their readers.

One of these two things, motivation and avenues of opportunity, has undergone considerable change over the last 30 years or so.

I don’t think it’s motivation. What inspired writers before is probably what drives them along today.

If you ask the unwashed reading public why writers write, the answer they might offer is to make money.

The more discerning reader might also add that disseminating ideas and opinions and influencing people are also legitimate motives for many writers.

If you ask writers why they write, they would also add they write simply because it’s something they like doing.

But while the reasons for writing may not have changed much in those 30 years, the avenues writers use have changed a lot.

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In her destiny to achieve: The long journey of Alphonse Huvi

Alphonse Huvi (r) donates her anthology to the Unity Library in Buka
Alphonse Huvi (right) donates her precious Devare High School Anthology to a staff member of the Unity Library in Buka


BRISBANE & PORT MORESBY - A recent collaborative article by Keith Jackson and  Rashmii Bell celebrated a number of Papua New Guinean women considered influential in terms of the theme of 2019 International Women’s Day, ‘Think smart, build smart, innovate for change’.

The eleven women profiled impressed an audience of more than 4,000 people and generated wide interest and hopefully admiration for the efforts of these women.

Shortly after the article appeared, I received an email from a Lae-based women’s collective enquiring about the process of compiling and publishing an anthology.

I referred the budding authors to PNG Attitude, my own extensively documented experience with ‘My Walk to Equality’ and Francis Nii’s discussion about publishing as a Papua New Guinean author.

I also encouraged them to engage with the newly-launched Crocodile Prize 2019.

After further thought, I also saw this as an opportunity to learn more about a project undertaken by one of the eleven women profiled, Alphonse Huvi, who had my genuine admiration as a literary innovator. Alphonse had just successfully published the Devare Adventist High School Anthology.

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Abt women's writing award open for entries in Crocodile Prize

Abt logo with tagBEN JACKSON | The Crocodile Prize

PORT MORESBY - The Crocodile Prize, Papua New Guinea’s national literary contest, has announced that entries are now open for the Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature.

The award carries K5,000 prize money for the winning writer.

Abt, which has supported the contest in previous years, has committed a total of K20,000 to the 2019 prize which will also cover publication of the anthology of the best writing, expenses for the awards ceremony and bringing winners to Port Moresby for the event.

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From eating your words to sharing them with the world

Tess Gizoria
Tess Gizoria - "“Writing is about finding my space and wanting to show a different view of what a Goilala woman can contribute to society”


PORT MORESBY - In a misconstrued punishment from her father, Tess Gizoria chewed up pieces of her journal entries - and ate them.

As an adolescent Tess had a fractious relationship with her dad. Then as now, she was articulate, direct and determined.

“We’d always argue – maybe it’s because we’re so much alike,” she reflects.

“He found what I’d written – I can’t remember exactly what it was – but he was so mad at me!”

Ironically, it was her father who first encouraged Tess to start writing.

“Inspiring me to write? It was my dad, because I needed a way to vent,” Tess says, just barely holding back laughter. “We were always arguing about things and I felt so strongly about them.

“My dad always told me I talked too much and to put my energy in to more useful things – one of them was writing.

“I was a child and supposed to respect my dad and not speak against him – all of that – I put it all down on paper.”

The frustrated teenager grew up and her writing practice, which began as a way to process a challenging patriarchal relationship, became a way to intellectualise the complexities of culture and gender in modern Papua New Guinea.

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Writing & me: Etched words keeping our culture alive


SONOMA – When I started writing poetry in 2015 I had already been writing for PNG Attitude for a year and my inspiration was twofold.

First, I wanted to understand poetry. To read poetry without understanding is like trying to read Hebrew or Greek.

So I taught myself to read poetry and then decided to write it so I could learn its language and beauty.

Secondly, I read an article by Michael Dom on the importance of writing poetry.

He also said poetry helped him with his technical writing. So I decided to write poetry.

And beyond that the poems on PNG Attitude, including witty and elegant prose from Phil Fitzpatrick and others, inspired me to write my own.

I started with free verse, and later sonnets and haiku. My writing of poetry is a work in progress.

I write on varied themes as inspiration strikes me. Most times, I write about religion, politics, creativity, nature and societal events.

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I want to challenge people to see what's happening around them

Joseph Tambure
Joseph Tambure - "My family likes the idea of writing that will live on. It's an amazing way to preserve the present through the centuries"


MT HAGEN - I’m from the Gende clan which nestles in the embrace of Mt Wilhelm in Usino, Bundi country. I work for the mission aviation fellowship (MAF) out of Hagen.

Poetry was my hobby during my early primary school days but I lost track of it after that until 2016.

I retrieved my early inspiration when I saw the changes happening around me

I want to challenge readers to see and feel what's happening around them.

I like to explore and express my views on environment and on people because we're all connected.

I have an ancestry of oral storytelling and my family members like the idea of writing that will live on for a long time. It's an amazing way to preserve the present through the centuries.

It's also important because we expose and express our country and people as a treasure to the outside world.

My uppermost feeling is when I know my traditional culture is preserved in writing for the coming generations. My low point is that most people are not interested.

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Want to publish? You can but here’s the truth behind the scenes

Francis Nii
Francis Nii - talented writer, wise publisher and a patriot strongly committed to Papua New Guinea and its literature


KUNDIAWA – I feel that it is important for me to share my experience of book publishing with authors and would-be authors to give them insights into book publication so they can make informed decisions to find the best and cheapest online or other publisher of their choice.

My first publication was my maiden novel ‘Paradise in Peril’ in 2005 with CBS Publishers and Distributors of New Delhi, the same publisher that produced books by Sir Paulias Matane and other Papua New Guinean writers.

I wrote the story on scrap paper and later Lutheran Pastor Daryl Boyd assisted me type it on a rugged old typewriter. When I felt the story was complete, I sent a hard copy by airmail to Governor General Sir Paulias Matane at Government House for his assessment and comment. There was no internet service in Kundiawa at the time.

Some weeks later, I received a letter from CBS in India through the post office. The letter said CBS had received my manuscript and was happy with the narrative and was ready to publish it. Thanks to Sir Paulias.

For a literary work of a first-timer to be accepted for publication by a renowned foreign publisher was quite a feat. I was very happy.

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Annie Dori, the award-winning poet who didn’t know it


PORT MORESBY - Annie Dori always kept journals, but never for a moment thought of herself as a writer.

As a graduate nursing officer she travelled through the remote districts of Western Province and her journal pages began to fill with the voices of people she met.

They were the stories of everyday Papua New Guineans.

“We were going from village to village,” Annie said, “they were quite far apart – it can take days for people to get to the nearest health centre.”

“Mothers’ would tell their stories of giving birth with no access to a health post and disabled men described their struggles to get around.

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We Need Change

Papua New Guinea's literary awards in the Crocodile Prize are preparing for a big revival later in 2019


Winner of the 2017 Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

The voice of a child begs for a touch,
The voice of a mother in hopelessness,
The voice of a youth searching for direction,
While the old weeps in pain.

The world seems to have lost its humanity,
Portraying injustice, hatred and jealousy,
Nature seems to agree,
Allowing disaster to conquer harmony

Where has the heart of a leader gone?
The kind that stands for justice,
And brings hope to the downhearted.

The child is still begging,
There is no medicine.
The mother is still hopeless
Her child is dying.
The youth is still searching,
Schooling seems only for the rich.
The old is still weeping,
How much more do we have to cry?

It’s International Poetry Day, so we asked along Ray Sigimet

Raymond Sigimet
Ray Sigimet - "A simple poem or story with a simple message can inspire change"


DAGUA - I started writing poetry as a form of personal expression when I had my first piece published on PNG Attitude in September 2015.

It was a poem about my daughter who was born in 2011 and it expressed the awe and wonder she brought into my life.

My daughter exuded an inner strength and zest for life which inspired me.

She was also growing really fast and, when she started talking about going school, I realised that I had to leave something for her to enable her to find her strength and remember me later on in life.

This was when I started to jot down a few stanzas and lines.  

In my poems, I mostly write about things or issues that I read, hear or see happening in the country or region. I am always in awe of Papua New Guinea and try to capture in my poems its social changes and challenges.

My poems are mostly about life, politics and justice, land and development, family and home, spirituality, and self and identity.

I believe that humans have shared experiences that transcend time and space and when these are captured effectively in a simple poem or story with a simple message, the reader is able to relive those experiences, relate to the poetry and perhaps be inspired to create change.

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