Writing & writers Feed

The progress of ‘Man Bilong Buk’


NOOSA – The production of ‘Man Bilong Buk’ – the tribute volume to the life and achievements of the late Francis Nii – was completed within two months of his death on 2 August and is already available as a downloadable book here.

As usual with PNG Attitude projects, the production of this 320-page book has been a team effort involving Francis’s family and friends, fellow writers, who offer their assessments of Francis’s impact on Papua New Guinea literature, and many of our readers who donated funds to enable the books to be distributed free of cost to PNG.

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Francis Nii e-book free on PNG Attitude

Francis Nii (2)
Phil Fitzpatrick - "This is not a book about a disabled writer. It is a book about a towering figure in the history of Simbu and Papua New Guinea itself"


NOOSA – After a remarkably short production time, the Francis Nii collection, ‘Man Bilong Buk’, has been readied for printing and we’re pleased to make an e-book available for free download immediately.

The link to the e-book can be found above this page’s masthead by clicking through the headline ‘The Francis Nii Collection’.

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How Francis Nii became an editor & publisher

An early meeting of the Simbu Writers Association. Francis Nii seated left and Arnold Mundua standing above his left shoulder


KUNDIAWA - The 2014 Crocodile Prize awards were held at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby in September, as they had been for the previous three years.

President of the Simbu Writers Association, Jimmy Drekore, was there, and so was Francis Nii, who had won the award for essays the year before, Roslyn Tony, Mathias Kin, Jimmy Awagl and me.

It was quite a representation from SWA, in Simbu colours too.

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The birth of the Simbu Writers Association

Arnold Mundua
Arnold Mundua
Francis Nii


KUNDIAWA – Sometimes great people’s legacy – their influence on and contributions to society - only becomes fully recognised after their passing.

The late author Francis Nii was such a person. His passing on Sunday 2 August at the Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Hospital in Kundiawa left a huge vacuum in the lives of the many people who knew him personally.

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Welcome to Paradise

Wallace Parimahi
Wallace Parimahi - talented young writer whose winning entry in the Paradise College writing contest, 'Project Infiltration', will be published in PNG Attitude tomorrow

| PNG Paradise College | Innovative School of the 21st Century

PORT MORESBY - I first heard of Paradise College when the principal, Mr Safak Deliismail, contacted me in 2016 to be a guest speaker at their ANIS Writing Competition awards.

I couldn’t make it at that time but three years on I am teaching at Paradise College in the subject I love to teach, Language and Literature.

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The story of Francis Nii’s last project

Kin Francis bushfire rally
An ailing Francis Nii leads the big bushfire rally for Australia from his wheelchair in Kundiawa. He saw the huge funds raised from this poor province as a token of the close relationship between the two countries


KUNDIAWA - My friend Francis Nii rang me on a Friday afternoon in early January to say he wanted to meet me about something that had been bothering him.

He briefly told me over the phone that it was about the terrible Australian bushfires and that he was surprised the Papua New Guinea government and other organisations were not doing anything about it.

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Man Bilong Buk - what you can expect

MBB writers pic
Francis Nii with Daniel Kumbon, Phil Fitzpatrick, Martin Namorong and Keith Jackson, Noosa, 2016


NOOSA – The manuscript of the Francis Nii Collection, so generously funded by a number of PNG Attitude readers, is nearing completion and shall soon be despatched to Jordan Dean – who runs Papua New Guinea’s only affordable publishing company - for design, layout and publication.

Entitled Man Bilong Buk, the tribute volume includes the best of the late author’s provocative and entertaining essays, revelations from his astonishing life story and insights into how an author imprisoned by his own body in the corner of a hospital ward managed to become such an exceptional figure in fostering a home-grown literature in PNG.

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Typewriters, carbon copies & white-out

A 1965 Olivetti Lettera 32 portable typewriter
A 1965 Olivetti Lettera 32 portable typewriter


TUMBY BAY - We often complain about the difficulties of getting anything published these days but in reality the opportunities, and particularly the process, are not a lot different than they were back in the good old days before computers took over the world.

Among our complaints is the demise of print journals, magazines and newspapers that would publish our short stories, poetry and articles and, importantly, pay us for them.

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Is changing government a solution to corruption?

Francis Nii
Francis Nii


NOOSA - As I work my way through the many writings of the late Francis Nii for the tribute volume, Man Bilong Buk, that we are putting together, I am constantly reminded of his insights, his judgement and his clarity of thought.

Of course, I've read each of these essays previously, since they were all published in PNG Attitude over the last 10 years or so and I edited them. But reading them again as a collection is a thoroughly different experience.

It's one I hope you will have when Man Bilong Buk is published later this year.  Anyway, to reconnect you with the great man's work, or to give you a first taste of it, here is an article from 21 January 2014.

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This is as far as we can go

FN Grave construction
Men of Yobai gather around as Francis Nii's grave begins to be constructed


NOOSA – The email arrived yesterday precisely three weeks after the untimely death of our friend, the eminent Papua New Guinean author, Francis Nii.

Untimely because, as his daughter Charlene wrote in the communication, “he was a strong man even to his last minutes with us”.

But the email revealed that Charlene now had another problem on her hands.

Continue reading "This is as far as we can go" »

Give us a hand to find Francis's books

Francis Nii  Kundiawa Hospital  2012KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA - As I gradually compile the full list of books that Francis Nii authored, edited or published, it has become clear to me that his productivity – if I may use such a managerial word – was far greater than previously acknowledged.

And so that I can ensure that the volume we are putting together, Man Bilong Buk – The Francis Nii Collection, is as complete and accurate as possible, I’m previewing here where we’re up to in compiling the list of books he wrote, edited or published in the hope that readers will contribute by adding to or correcting our work so far.

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Me & Francis

Francis Nii (top right) and Philip Fitzpatrick (bottom right) illustrated for the front cover of Phil's book about the struggle to develop a home-grown literature in PNG, Fighting for a Voice


TUMBY BAY - Francis Nii and I had a rather unique relationship based on our interest in Papua New Guinean literature and publishing, which I valued highly.

It began shortly after the troublesome 2013 Crocodile Prize competition. The organising committee had basically fallen apart and together we sought to salvage enough of the entries to produce an anthology for that year.

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Francis Nii tribute book is well underway

Francis Nii
Francis Nii - Not only a literary craftsman but a writer who understood the business of writing


NOOSA – It’s always great to be able to thank PNG Attitude readers for offering a helping hand when you respond generously to a significant project we’re getting our teeth into.

Right now, the project is the publication of The Francis Nii Collection, a tribute volume to the late paraplegic author and literary leader who died in Kundiawa a little over two weeks ago.

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Bravo! Another Metau epic on the way

Inspector Hari Metau
Inspector Hari Metau

If there was any justice in fiction writing, Phil Fitzpatrick’s Hari Metau series would have sold a million copies and be into its third movie by now. Instead, Phil is putting the final touches on the fifth book in the series and I – and many others who have grown to love the stories of the honest, hard-working detective hard at work in steamy, corrupt Port Moresby – will be grateful but unable to make Phil richer - KJ


TUMBY BAY - As far as I can work out I learned to read somewhere between my third and fourth birthdays.

By the time I was five I had worked my way through many of the popular children’s books then available, including James Barrie’s Peter Pan or The Boy who would not Grow Up.

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The papers being sorted; the drawers emptied

Kiaps 1960
Newly recruited kiaps having completed their training in Port Moresby observe a march past by police in the early 1960s


TUMBY BAY - In an article a few days ago about Francis Nii and the effort to memorialise his contribution to Papua New Guinean literature, Keith Jackson reiterated an earlier comment that “this is likely to be PNG Attitude’s last big project. It was always going to happen that Phil Fitzpatrick and I would age and gradually run out of steam. Well, that point is arriving”.

I can wholly endorse that observation, no matter how hard I try to build up a head of steam about lots of things these days it seems to inevitably dissipate in ineffectual little puffs from all the leaks in the rusty old boiler.

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National Book Week is meaningless & vain

Francis Nii - "A meaningless and derisory celebration that should not be called National Book Week"


One year ago, Francis Nii wrote this article proposing how Papua New Guinea’s annual book week could be more relevant and useful by focusing on locally-authored books. Like much of what Francis wrote, his words were perceptive but ignored. This failure to listen to and act on good advice underpins much of PNG’s failure to progress the interests of its people….

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.

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Against the fading of the light

Francis Nii 2013
Francis Nii understood clearly that the grand enterprise of creating a national literature required more than writers


NOOSA – I spent the weekend reading through the archives of PNG Attitude between 2010 and now, extracting the writing by and about the late Francis Nii and, occasionally distracted by some other old article or incident it evoked, wandering along the trail of my own memories about this remarkable website.

Yes, in its 15th year, I think PNG Attitude is entitled to the honorific ‘remarkable’. I began publishing the blog when I was 59. I’m now 75. It has occupied a considerable chunk of my life and has been published almost each day – whether I was in Papua New Guinea’s remote highlands, in the middle of some ocean, even in hospital, where I have been too often these years.

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“We the unheard voices”, but for writers like Francis



LAE - Francis Sina Nii (Paradise in Peril), author, publisher and poet, passed away in Kundiawa town (Simbu Province) on 2 August 2020, just one month shy of a decade since I first met him.

While Francis fellow writers may wish to pay him good tributes, we should more so uphold his highest ideals and brightest dreams.

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Writer Francis Nii – The origin story


NOOSA – According to their first president, Micheal Yaki Mel, in late November 1984 “a group of eager young writers based at the University Papua New Guinea got together to express their dissatisfaction over the lack of publishing outlets for their work.

“Many had poems, stories and other tattered manuscripts tucked away which they couldn’t get published because they were unknown. From that meeting was both the Papua New Guinea Writers Union.”

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A PNG politician, warts & all


Flight of Jungle Eagle – An Autobiography of Wake Goi, Francis Nii Publications, 2020, 168 pages, ISBN: 9798640309997, US$21.50 from Amazon.com

TUMBY BAY – This work is notable for a number of reasons including that it was the last book that was edited and published by Francis Nii, who most of our readers will know died on Sunday.

Francis worked on the book while he was ill, managing to complete it during a respite in his battle for survival. A battle he ultimately lost.

Continue reading "A PNG politician, warts & all" »

A Festschrift for Francis Nii

A rare group photo of Francis Nii with fellow writers Daniel Kumbon, Philip Fitzpatrick, Martyn Namorong and Keith Jackson (Brisbane Writers Festival, 2016)


NOOSA – In Germany a Festschrift is a book honouring a respected person. It is generally presented during their lifetime, although it can also be a memorial.

PNG Attitude’s Festschrift for the late author Francis Nii will take the form of an edited volume of Francis’s most significant essays, articles, poetry and commentary, his ideas and achievements and it will include fellow writers’ observations of his work, his methods and his life.

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Help us assemble the Francis Nii Collection


NOOSA – On this day Francis Nii, one of Papua New Guinea’s most eminent literary figures, is being buried in the soil of his Simbu homeland at Kundiawa.

And also today, PNG Attitude establishes a fund to ensure that the many words and deeds of Francis Nii will endure and not be lost to the future.

Early commitments to the fund already total $1,400 on the way to a target of $10,000.

Continue reading "Help us assemble the Francis Nii Collection" »

Francis Nii: Man of indomitable spirit

Francis & Jimmy
Francis Nii and Jimmy Drekore, both Crocodile Prize winners, on one of their many literary forays in the rugged mountains of Simbu


KUNDIAWA - In 2004 I was visiting sick kids in the isolation ward at Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial General Hospital when I met Francis Nii.

What intrigued me was that he had written a book, ‘Paradise in Peril’, while on his sick bed.

I had never before come across anyone publishing anything in such circumstances.

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A letter to my dear friend Francis Nii

Francis and Daniel in Brisbane  2016
Francis and Daniel in Brisbane, 2016


WABAG - Francis, I met you through your writing in 1985 in Ondobondo and later PNG Writer at the University of Papua New Guinea. But we never physically met.

Later I met you through your writing and comments in PNG Attitude.

I never imagined you sat in a wheelchair until I met you in Simbu in 2015 during the Crocodile Prize presentations.

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Unfinished journey: Francis Nii & the struggle for PNG literature

| First published in PNG Attitude, 3 July 2019

….If no one supports me
I alone will carry you

Until you smile and say
Papa, thank you I am healed

Then my heart will be at peace
My soul will rest….
                  - Francis Nii (2016)

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.

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Some of the wise sayings of Francis Nii

Francis Nii at Sir Joseph Nombri Hospital  Kundiawa  2014KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA - In the late Francis Nii’s  many articles for PNG Attitude and in his books are hundreds of aphorisms and wise thoughts.

Here are just a few I’ve quickly gathered.

”Keep hoping and keep searching with patience and you shall find the answer”

“Every wickedness has a cost. At the ripe time the perpetrator will each pay his price”

“One can escape from the court of justice through cunning and false device but the court of conscience is inescapable and sometimes the justice meted is fatal”

“The rural grass roots are survivors. They know how to survive in the harshest conditions and difficult moments. They will still survive whatever the situation”

“Keep dreaming and keep writing. A man with no dream has no purpose in life”

“This is Papua New Guinea, the land where corruption is a way of life”

“When political heroes of today are gone tomorrow and forgotten forever, writers will live on beyond the grave - and that's the beauty about writing even though there is no money in it”

“Literary excellence is the key to unlocking the hidden treasures of life. A nation without literature is a people with lost identity”

BushfireFrancis’s final project – February 2020

From his hospital bed and in his wheelchair Francis was a creative force and a meticulous planner and organiser.

When terrible bushfires devoured eastern Australia last summer, Francis decided to repay Australia’s long history of assisting Papua New Guinea by asking the Simbu people to raise K400,000.

“The great news is that I set the target at K400,000, which everybody thought was impossible. But now we have surpassed that.

“We will be presenting a check of K425,000 to the national government-sanctioned fundraising PNG Heart for Australia Bushfire Appeal.”

Poetry at random

SomareFrom Sana: An Autobiography by Michael Somare

After the snake ceremony I was taught the timit songs. Only Saub lnew these songs, and he had to repeat them ten times so that I could learn them. When the time for the timit songs had come Saub rose to his feet. There was silence.

Now you have left your mother’s womb
You have come to this place to receive power.
With this power you must go out and lead -
lead in initiation, lead in fight, lead in peacemaking.
The strength now has been given to you.

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Tok-singsing: danis bilong yumi iet

Dom headlineMICHAEL DOM

Strangers teach you to sing songs and march to a drum that they own
To reject your garamut, your kundu and the stilled speech of wood
Their soporific chorus dulls your mind and cheats your Black soul.
--- Sijo on loss of culture (O Arise, 2015)

LAE - It is recognized that most indigenous, non-literate societies maintained a very strong oral tradition as a means of passing on knowledge and information, albeit much of it wreathed in mysticism, of myths and legends, but also as part of a natural creativity and entertainment.

These “hand-made stories” were sufficient for the needs of the time and became part of the foundations of our cultural expression, olsem tumbuna pasin.

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Bernard Narokobi – leader, legislator, poet

Leadership_in_MelanesiaGREGORY BABLIS

PORT MORESBY - In 1995 when Bernard Narokobi was Papua New Guinea’s minister for agriculture, he, Bart Philemon and Jerry Nalau voted against prime minister Julius Chan’s proposed bill for an organic law on provincial and local level governments.

Given the ongoing conflict in Bougainville in its violent bid for secession, the three ministers feared the bill’s proposed centralisation of power pulling it away from local level government gave more motivation for other regions in PNG to push for autonomy.

Following the vote, prime minister Chan sacked all three ministers from his cabinet.

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We’ve all got a book in us – or two

Better-Rich-than-FamousNICHOLAS C BROWN

VICTORIA - I had gone to Papua New Guinea in 1971 as a 25-year old seeking adventure.

I’d found life in Britain a little less exciting than I had originally hoped and wanted to do something useful.

But, in those days, I had really no idea as to what that might entail.

I was born in London and left the UK in 1972 and, determined to travel and see the world, lived and worked in Papua New Guinea, after which I took up a similar post with the Commonwealth Secretariat in the British Virgin Islands before eventually continuing my career in Australia in the early 1980’s.

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Diction: terse, complex, specific

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


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

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


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


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)


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


"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"


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 Fitzpatrick - a pioneer of the 21st century revival in Papua New Guinea 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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The chasm in cultural integrity

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"


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


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?


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


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"


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


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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