HALF A CENTURY AGO (in the years 1962-63) Val Rivers (pictured) trained as a teacher at the Australian School of Pacific Administration. She was a contemporary of mine.
Upon the completion of the two-year course, Val taught in then colonial Papua New Guinea from 1964: serving in Daru, Dregerhafen, Gagidu, Wabag, Kavieng and then, from 1969-70, as teacher-in-charge of the demonstration school at Goroka Teachers College. “This was my favourite posting,” she says.
In 1971, Val returned to Australia and joined the South Australian Education Department specialising in teaching English as a second language, in which she was the matriculation curriculum developer and chief examiner for three years.
In 1994 she resigned to set up a small tourist business in Burra, South Australia, where she lives to this day.
During her seven years in PNG, as so many people did, Val collected various artefacts, some would be of considerable value.
And now she’s donated them for sale – with the proceeds to go to supporting national literature in PNG.
WHEN THE CROCODILE PRIZE kicked off in 2011 it was the intention of the organisers to involve as many Papua New Guinea businesses as possible in the process, including the printing and distribution of the anthology.
Following many problems with printing, it is likely that the 2013 anthology will be printed in Australia. This is unfortunate but, under the circumstances, understandable. Having the anthology ready on time and at a competitive price is only fair to the many contributors.
This development is one of the lessons that have been learned through experience, which is always a wonderful and pragmatic teacher.
Another lesson brought home firmly is that publishing in Papua New Guinea has no future in the short term. Given the worldwide revolution occurring in publishing and the growth in popularity of the e-book the long term outlook is not very encouraging either.
LAST SATURDAY, under the auspices of the PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers (SWEP), I introduced an idea to a bunch of Port Moresby writers.
Basically it was this: small groups of writers meet regularly to individually read short examples of their own writing to the group. Then the group, in rotation, offers suggestions, corrections or comments on the piece.
This is a common modus operandi of many writers’ groups throughout Australia and it’s a concept I thought might work well in Papua New Guinea.
Traditionally, both in PNG and elsewhere, it is common to discuss matters in small groups which tend to be very self-disciplined and thus achieve results.
My Scottish ancestors no doubt got together with just the fight leaders and strategists to plan how best to clobber the English on the morrow, just as did the recent ancestors of today’s PNG generations – and for similar reasons!
Family issues, village issues, disciplinary issues and criminal issues were all usually sorted out in small groups before including the rest of those interested.
The venue for this small group of writers was the Moresby Arts Theatre, where a tasty light lunch was provided.
Members of the SWEP committee, notably Ruth Moiam, Steve Ilave and Regina Dorum, had capably arranged invitations to Moresby writers, advertising and a host of other details.
The meeting started with 18 (of 31 pre-confirmed) and an hour and a half later numbers had grown to 25 attentive, passionate, participatory writers, sitting on the near seats in the tiered theatre.
From where I spoke, sitting on the edge of the stage, I could tell by the affirmative nods, the smiles and whispered comments that the idea was being accepted. This was confirmed by several speakers in the open session which followed.
Steven, as an informal chairman, asked everyone to introduce themselves and make what comments they wanted. This was, for me, the most interesting session.
Some people spoke at length and brought up interesting and relevant aspects of the writing scene.
And what a modern, discerning bunch of writers they are – discussing how today’s social media might integrate with their work.
Not for them Twitters and Facebook, which they see as being person-to-person communication, and useful to that extent only.
Blogs? Yes, definitely have a place in publishing, for comparison, for education.
And agreement that for a blog posting and for a blog comment, the writing should be the best the writer can muster.
I was very happy with the day, and most impressed by the ability and good PNG commonsense of those writers.
We enjoyed our light lunch with a can of soft and informal discussion before we all went our various ways.
Thank you again to those competent, friendly SWEP committee members for a job well done.
THE CAUSE OF WRITING AND READING home-grown literature in Papua New Guinea was advanced significantly last night with the election of the first leadership team of the PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers.
Amanda Donigi, 32, a professional publisher and editor of the new Stella women’s magazine has been elected as the inaugural president and Jimmy Drekore, who celebrates his 36th birthday this week, is vice-president.
Jimmy, who is a chemist with Newcrest Mining, founded the Simbu Children Foundation in 2005. He won the Crocodile Prize poetry award in 2011.
The other officers of the Society are:
Ruth Moiam (Secretary). Ruth, Public Diplomacy Coordinator, Australian High Commission, is a communication & journalism graduate. She won the 2007 Divine Word University poetry prize.
Gina Samar (Treasurer). Gina is an accountant who writes as a hobby. She lives in Wewak and works on Lihir Island assisting landowner companies.
David Gonol (Committee Member). David is a lawyer with the National Court and author of I’ve Grown to Love Jesus (2011) and is now writing a book on ‘underlying law’.
David Kitchnoge (Committee Member). David is an accountant who is also a talented essayist and poet.
Regina Dorum (Committee Member). Regina is a laboratory technician. She is an aspiring novelist who would like to enhance her writing skills to become a full time writer.
Steven llave Sr (Committee Member). Steven is a development economist with over 20 years experience working with the PNG government, UN, World Bank, ADB, AusAID and World Vision. He writes poetry and songs and comes from the same language group as the late Sir Albert Maore Kiki. He has started work on his first book.
“We have a lot to do from here on,” Jimmy Drekore commented, thanking the members of the Society who had “entrusted us with the mandate to take this Society forward.”
The Society was incorporated at the end of 2011 and is taking over responsibility for the administration of the Crocodile Prize and its associated educational and publishing programs.
The 2012 winners of the seven categories in the national literary awards will be announced in a ceremony at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby tonight.