An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry
I presented this poem at the Ohio University’s International Women’s Festival in early March. Its central theme is the recognition of women through arts and culture, with the bilum being a significant part of our lives in PNG. It has an impact on the way we live and shows the agency of women through their handiwork. To the women in PNG for their creativity in making the bilum.
A bilum is a popular traditional string bag made out of plant fibre, wool or string
A lot of effort is put into making bilum –drying, cutting, twisting and weaving
A bilum comes in all styles, forms, shapes and sizes,
They are unique, authentic, colorful and beautiful overall,
A bilum is identified by the province, even district it is made from,
Bilums are made by women,
And carried everywhere by children, men and women alike
A Papua New Guinea woman’s character it resembles,
The details of the bilum shows her knowledge and creativity,
Her patience and determination,
Bilum is women’s achievement, women’s pride
That has a significant place in the society,
Bilum is like women’s agency, they impact everywhere.
Bilum creates unity among the 800 plus different languages, many cultures and traditions
Bilum is a binding mechanism among gender, ethnicity, economic status and age
Doesn’t matter where you come from, bilum is a shared symbol among the people
Serving multipurpose from carrying food, books, babies, as decoration, and as gifts
Their value is wide ranging.
Bilums create unity, happiness and beauty generations before, now and in the future
Bilums are powerful representation of women
Because bilums are handiworks of women