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Poet Sarah aims to empower PNG women

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

KEITH JACKSON

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

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

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Tok Pisin first for Commonwealth story prize

StoryEMMA D'COSTA
| Commonwealth Foundation

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

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

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'Post-colonial Literature' is a stupid title

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

MICHAEL DOM

Fragment I

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

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

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PNG literature – the olden days

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

KESIA ERICK
| Ples Singsing

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

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

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Writing’s always been my passion

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

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

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

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

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

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Journalists have a trust problem

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

ROSS GITTINS
| Economics Editor, Sydney Morning Herald
| Extracts

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

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

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Waka Poet Faumuina meets Blunt Bugger Dom

MICHAEL DOM
| Ples Singsing

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

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

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

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

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A prosateur writes on best prosateurs

Clive James
Clive James

CLIVE JAMES
| Australian Book Review

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

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

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Writing in PNG: Kovave & beyond

BooksEVELYN ELLERMAN

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

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

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

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How PNG's first literary blossoming arrived

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

EVELYN ELLERMAN

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

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

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

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A brief history of PNG literature, Part 2

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

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

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

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

Continue reading "A brief history of PNG literature, Part 2" »


A brief history of PNG literature, Part 1

BooksPHILIP FITZPATRICK

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

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

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Young poets leaving no blank pages in history

Dom
Michael Dom

MICHAEL DOM
| Ples Singsing

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

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

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

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

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

MICHAEL DOM

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

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

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

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Regarding the perfect Melanesian gentleman

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

MICHAEL DOM

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

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

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

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How poetry helps us express feelings

MARIA TAKOLANDER
| The Conversation

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

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

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George Orwell, change & the future

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

THE ORWELL FOUNDATION
| Edited extracts

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

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

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Another PNG book publisher emerges

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

SHANE BAIVA
| Ples Singsing

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

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

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Reading eclectically is good for the mind

EclecticSIMON DAVIDSON

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

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

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He had a phone & he wrote a book

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

KEITH JACKSON

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

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

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Words that mean more than they say

50000 morePHILIP FITZPATRICK

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

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

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The continuing mission of a man of peace

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

KEITH JACKSON

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

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

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This is how to wrap an essay competition

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

LATASHA LALAAH AKANE
| Ples Singsing

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

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

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Second book blues, but after that it’s easy

Book-bluesPHILIP FITZPATRICK

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

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

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

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Ples Singsing gets a valuable helping hand

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

CAROLINE EVARI
| Ples Singsing

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

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

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Love, grief & the Old Man’s dilemma

SurvivorDANIEL KUMBON

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

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

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

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Tok Pisin’s emergence as a literary language

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

KEITH JACKSON

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

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

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Essay contest delivered some useful lessons

LitKEITH JACKSON

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

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

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The old man, his wife & the young girl

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

DANIEL KUMBON

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

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

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

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The secret public life of an author

_Bama _Dogger _Met1PHILIP FITZPATRICK

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

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

Even my abject and humble efforts have had that effect.

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

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

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

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Writing just for the sake of writing

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

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

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

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

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

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Cleaning up school funding could boost literature

Rural school (globalgiving.org)
Teachers and pupils at a PNG rural school (globalgiving.org)

AG SATORI

PORT MORESBY – I’ve been investigating the operation of the Tuition Fee Free (TFF) process in Papua New Guinea and whether it is doing the best it can for schools.

And also whether it might be better structured to do more to support education and, in doing that, to support the development of literature and literacy in PNG.

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PM offers wise words. What's next?

Tingting bilong mi
The writers of PNG don't know the word 'quit'. Operating with little money they're now running a youth writing contest, Tingting Bilong Mi

AG SATORI

PORT MORESBY – The other day Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape offered the children – and adults – of our country some true words of wisdom.

They were true for the time when he was growing up. They were true for the time when his parents were poor but proud.

What the prime minister extolled in his message, however, is followed today by very few parents and their children.

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When I counted the authors, I gasped

Croc
Extract from the cover of the 2015 Crocodile Prize Anthology

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – PNG Attitude reader Susan Conroy has asked where in Australia may be found books by Papua New Guinean authors.

Unfortunately I, and others, had to inform Susan that no books by contemporary PNG authors are likely to be seen in Australia’s bookshops, and for that matter very few by some of the earlier celebrated authors.

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Mr Marape & the tenacity of PNG writers

BookshelfDANIEL KUMBON
MICHAEL DOM
AG SATORI
PHILIP FITZPATRICK
Edited by Keith Jackson

“To all my children across our beautiful and blessed country, have hope and faith that you too can make it in life and make use of your time and talents by working hard wherever God has placed you in our diverse and blessed land of PNG” – James Marape, ‘Advice for young people: You’re here for a purpose’

DANIEL KUMBON – THE HEARTBEAT OF PNG

WABAG - You know prime minister, your words are gold for children of this country. Your direct message can impact their lives at an early age.

Your words can get them off Facebook and get them into a library full of books.

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‘Victory Song’ dedicated to a kiap wantok

John Gordon Kirby  Melbourne 2019
John Gordon-Kirkby was a kiap in Enga when he encountered Daniel Kumbon as a boy. After connecting on the internet in recent years, they have formed a great friendship

DANIEL KUMBON

PORT MORESBY - Early this morning, I received a ‘thank you’ note from one of the kiaps (patrol officers) John Gordon-Kirkby, now aged 84, who had served in Enga Province up to the time of Papua New Guinea’s independence in 1975.

A few days ago, John asked me to send him a dedication note with my signature on it so he could stick it somewhere in my new book, ‘Victory Song of Pingeta’s Daughter’, which he had just ordered.

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President or poet, what’s best?

Poet and President
Poet and President

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Like a lot of people I was mesmerised watching the young poet, Amanda Gorman, reading her poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’, at the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States of America.

What surprised me was to read that Amanda has an aspiration to herself become president of the USA.

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Young poet astounds at US inauguration

Amanda
Amanda Gorman - "I want my words to be a point of unity...."

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – Papua New Guinea is not only a nation of mountains and minerals, it's a place of music and poetry.

Those of PNG’s many poets, young and old, who got to see young American poet Amanda Gorman, 22, perform yesterday would have been astonished.

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Essay competition: 10 days to go

PNG-authorMICHAEL DOM
| The National Weekender | Edited

PORT MORESBY - Engan author Daniel Kumbon launched Victory Song of Pingeta’s Daughter, a 400-page book which attempts to trace the history of the Wabag district and Enga, without fanfare.

It is a culturally valuable and epic work and it is unlikely the author will ever make a toea from it. But that’s normal in Papua New Guinea.

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Tok Pisin, Tok Motu na Tok Ples

Tok-pisin-rootsMICHAEL DOM
| Full references at end of essay

LAE - If Tok Pisin is the language expression of our lifestyle and our intermingled cultures” (1) then what does this language say about us as a people?

As first-language English-speaking Papua Niuginians, my siblings and I were introduced to Tok Pisin during our late primary and secondary school years.

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The special place of poetry in PNG

Words of Paradise  Poetry of PNG (Jacket2  Anthony Madrid)
Words of Paradise:  Poetry of PNG (Jacket2 Anthony Madrid)

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - I read quite a bit of modern Australian poetry, as it turns up in the newspapers and journals that I read, but quite frankly most of it doesn't do much for me.

On the other hand, Papua New Guinean poetry and prose continues to be a joy and fascination.

Even some of Australia's much lauded poets, like Les Murray or Clive James, both of whom died in 2019, don't appeal to me.

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