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30 August 2018


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Steven Winduo was always been an interested observer of our efforts to promote PNG literature Michael but despite numerous attempts on our part could never be convinced to put his weight behind them.

I found this most curious, especially given that Russell Soaba came on board right from the beginning. Indeed, Russell's involvement contributed to our success.

It would be good to hear from Steven on this issue.

One small step for PNG writers.
One giant leap for contemporary writers.

My experience with PNG academia and my writing: praise my efforts in private, but never publicly.

Just as they have sat in the same room with me in front of prominent Australian literary identities and discussed the need for more PNG voices to be included in major Australian writers festivals - only to insert themselves on that platform without a thought of extending the opportunity to me.

Harry - great information on Henry Lawson, thank you. Last year at the Brisbane Writers Festival, I presented on a panel with Australian academic Kerrie Davis, the author of 'A Wife's Heart' - a bio of Henry Lawson's wife, Bertha Lawson. Your comments remind me I should revisit their story.

I rather like Walter de la Mare's poem 'The Listeners', written about 1912. If you substitute the traveller for a writer and pretend the house is the university it works well.

"Is there anybody there?" said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grass
Of the forest's ferny floor;
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller's head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
"Is there anybody there?" he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:--
"Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word," he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.

Phil - I think you’re on to the money here. Intellectual snobbery is a good ruse for bad authors who attempt to cloak their so-called esoteric wisdom with academic scholarly license.

Henry Lawson the Australian poet and writer never had any problem finding publishers for his works as his works found the readers mark so to speak.

The trouble with “riting”as Henry Lawson would pen is that it is all in the eyes and minds of the reader.

Lawson chose a particular writing style that he knew would resonate with his readers however his literary peers at the time in good old merry England severely crticised his writings as being uncouth and boorish and deemed his works and as such were not worthy for publishing.

What they failed to realise that in fact Lawson’s indomitable intellect was far more formable than theirs.
It was recounted that he agonized over his writings continually editorialising and rewriting his prose and poems until in his words “he got it right”.

Despite the non-recognition from the English literary mob his credibility as a serious writer Lawson was widely recognised by his Australian contemporaries of the time who lauded his style and intelligence indicating his clever use of the metaphor and symbolism in his writings as his strongest suite.

I think his philosophy in life was more than likely influenced by his meager circumstances, which like many a true artist, gave him a clear insight into the mindset of the common man.

Always broke and looking for a few bob to wet his whistle he was known to put the bite on any one that might help him out.

I like his anecdote about once meeting a couple of the clergy passing by and when denied a bit of largesse, commented: “ Three men on a street met, one was a priest, the other also and the third had no money too”.

Anyone interested in Lawson’s writing would find the book entitled ”Henry Lawson by his mates” published by Angus and Robertson a good read.

Like Jordan Dean, I also sent an email to a professor and writer with whom we did preliminary year together asking for advice and help to get my manuscript published.

But the good professor never replied and I wondered why?

Now I know the reason. Thank you, Phil.

Bingo Phil!

Tried to publish my books with UPNG Press but ran into brick walls. I am assuming the academics want to maintain their status quo as PNG literature legends.

They should be encouraging and mentoring upcoming writers.

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