IN SEPTEMBER, we were fortunate enough to meet with two writers from Papua New Guinea, Martyn Namorong and Daniel Kumbon, who had been brought to Australia for the Brisbane Writer’s Festival and a series of industry meetings.
Martyn is a political activist, award-winning writer and a much-quoted blogger, while Daniel has had a prominent career in journalism, including a number of prestigious international scholarships.
PNG has a national literary award, the Crocodile Prize, which is now in its sixth year and this prize has also established a not-for-profit publisher, Pukpuk Publications.
This publisher has built a list of more than 30 Papua New Guinean titles, including the annual Crocodile Prize anthology: no mean feat in a country with a literacy rate of 15%, and almost no publishers or bookshops.
Now Martyn, Daniel and others are turning their attention to setting up a PNG writers' organisation with a twofold mission: to preserve and celebrate the Papua New Guinean culture and to increase literacy throughout the country.
This is a massive challenge, and certainly puts many of our local issues into sharp relief, but it is also immensely inspiring.
The book industry has always been strong when it comes to sharing information and skills and we really hope that this generosity of spirit can help Martyn and Daniel in their work.
In an industry that flourishes on relationships, visits such as theirs are vital to building the support that will be needed to truly make a difference.
Photo: (from right) Martin Namorong, Juliet Rogers, Daniel Kumbon and Jane Coulcher