PAPUA New Guinea is still developing its literary voice, not least its poetic voice and a fluidity of style, laced with experimentation, is found in many Papua New Guinean poets’ work.
This dynamic process will one day lead to styles that people feel comfortable with and which fit the PNG national identity.
Poetry in any country is necessarily a changing form as style and content alter but it rarely operates at the primal level, as it is in Papua New Guinea.
This is what makes the poetry submitted to the Crocodile Prize so interesting and entertaining.
This evolutionary process is a persistent theme in much of the writing in the Crocodile Prize, particularly in poetry. Many poets struggle with the notion of what actually constitutes a good poem.
And a lot of would-be poets seem to think that stringing prose together in an unstructured way is poetry.
Well, maybe it is or maybe it isn’t, but it’s a question worth pursuing and this is what appeals in Philip Kaupa Gena’s poem.
In it he champions the cause of the wordsmith and attempts to place poetry in an artisanal niche rather than some arty-farty higher literary plane.
In doing so, however, he is mindful of the need for structure and cohesion. Like the broader development of Papua New Guinean literature, poetry is seen to be slowly finding its voice.
Philip’s poem is not perfect but it is well on the way to that ideal and he continues a theme established by the winner of the 2014 award, Diddie Kinamun Jackson, in which literature, and the people who commit themselves to it, are celebrated.
We Are Poets
PHILIP KAUPA GENA
Art is an expression and we express words
They have a pottery project, we have a poetry project
They are inventors, we are designers
They learn music, we write their lyrics
They carve the wood, we carve the words
They sew the bilums, we stitch the alphabet
They paint to express, we paint words to impress
They’re professionals with skills, we’re professionals with knowledge
They follow the grammar, we write the drama
Our thoughts are personal but speak to the general
They have dreams that we cream
They're on a mission, we have visions
They have ideas, we have imagination
Because we are poets we write in style
If Shakespeare can sound forever, forever we can sound
Because we are Poets