Sail the midnight sun, a long poem by John Kasaipwalova First verse: "I am the midnight sun My soul conceived to body The love embrace of that night When my Bwalai turned monster of the depths Trembling for blood revenge on mankind But instead summoned with burning desires My naked Libra in her virgin love Extasying the tender patience of the stars." Last verse: "Yes a dream A restless flowing dream Whose sopi was seeded Where dark ocean currents cry Whose waters I have drunk To love you today With the longings for the tomorrow Sunshine and flowers The flow of the mountain spring."
Ples Singsing mourns the loss of Chief John Kasaipwalova, poet & radical
May he always find his way home sailing the midnight sun.
Reluctant Flame, v14 "People will live, people will die But the tiny flame will grow its arms and legs very slowly Until one day its volcanic pulse will tear the gree mountain apart To allow pentup blood flow and congested vomit spit freely Tiny flame of my pulse, you are silent, you are patient My hands and my aching body will nurse you against the venomous enemy You will grow, you and I will soon be free to grow our love" Hanuabada, v10 "Hanuabada, the world speaks many tongues Your silent flesh and blood Is no sign for your happiness Now you do not ripple and shriek Like your angry oceans Locking your birthing violence Into pious sentimental goodness Searching blindly in darkness Always always hiding your misery in your role playing"
Kurai Memorial Awards Judging is in progress
Next week we will meet our three judges for Ples Singsing’s inaugural awards for short-biography writing.
The judges are professional writers and avid fiction readers, who are recognised as Wantok Blong Ples Singsing (Associate Members).
The judges will bring to bear their own wealth of knowledge and experience in writing, editing and publishing of fiction and non-fiction materials, including poetry, short-stories, drama and essays, journalism, editorials, opinion articles and advertising.
Their perspectives will be valuable to the young writers who have entered the contest.
As announced in the official launching poster, there are two categories in the competition for men’s and women’s writing. We received ten entries in the men’s division and five entries in the women’s division.
The criteria for judging include;
- Interesting – a story may be interesting even if it is poorly written
- Informative – a story may be informative or valuable history even if it is not very interesting
- Inspiring/Inspired – the story is inspiring or the writer seems genuinely inspired
- Well written – clear, concise but fully expressed, ordered
- I want to read more! – The Wow Factor that this story needs to be told
The story of Chief John, poet & radical
MULAI ROBBY | The National Weekender, 21 May 2023 [PNG Attitude]
PORT MORESBY – Her voice rose high and echoed in the big hall of the Reverend Sione Kami Memorial Church, drowning the noise of the heavy rain thudding on the roof.
The woman dedicated her song to the man she addressed as the father of her children.
Least to say, she brought the house down with emotion.
Linda Thomas Kasaipwalova was the first wife. After being together for a long time, the two went their separate ways.
In one of his short stories, ‘Betel nut is bad for airplane’, Chief John Kasaipwalova had addressed her only as ‘The Woman.’
Linda sang in tribute a song composed by her father in Kilivila dialect, loosely translated:
My tears flowed freely like flood waters
For the last time I cried for you
I was stunned that my love
Sweet talk and promises
All come to nothing.
Expectations and yearnings all over
It’s the end of all thoughts about Kilivila
And if I ever come your way
However, I will not see you till someday
I’ll meet you in Tuma (the spirit world)
At the end of the ceremony, she was among others outside the church but stood alone watching the funeral car take the casket away.
Renowned Papua New Guinean poet and playwright Chief John Ligogu Kasaipwalova died at midnight on Tuesday 2 May at Port Moresby General Hospital. He was 74 and the illness had been short.
It is said he was a smart kid in school. He became one of the country’s elite intellectuals.
His mentors say he was a talented poet and writer who helped promote literacy in Papua New Guinea. Others say he was a radical and activist in many fields.
He was a traditional chief in Milne Bay, a member of the Kiriwina Council of Chiefs under the Tabalu leadership.
A true Chief, but relate to him however you feel comfortable. That was how his acquaintances, colleagues and friends from various background describe the late Chief.
John Kasaipwalova was put to education at an early age at a Catholic School on Kiriwina Island and later at Sidea School near Samarai Island.
One of his acquaintances, Keith Jackson, wrote in PNG Attitude:
“He proved to be a bright and outstanding student, receiving a scholarship to St Brendan’s College at Yeppoon in Queensland and from there an Australian Commonwealth scholarship to attend the University of Queensland to study arts and law.
“His strongly nationalist politics and writing proved to be more important to John than his studies and he supported radical groups, including the Revolutionary Socialist Students Alliance.”
Jackson last met John early in 2017, when John was back at the University of PNG tasked with reviving its ailing press. The printery had been burned down during earlier student unrest.
The entire collection of books from Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands had been destroyed.
Jackson wrote how John had intended to rebuild the press.
“But his enthusiasm was never matched by support from government or development aid organisations, entities that never understood the importance of literature and the arts in nation building.
“John’s dreams, along with our own, have not been realised. And our generation is almost extinct, and the next yet to reveal what it can do.
“Another prominent figure from the Independence era is lost to us. These are sad times.”
John did not complete his studies at the University of Queensland. His involvement in the so-called radical activities led to the termination of his scholarship and cancellation of his Australian visa.
He returned home and enrolled at the University of PNG.
At the University of Queensland in 1966, John met a Central District lad, Moi Avei, and the two became friends and addressed each other as brothers, a relationship to last a lifetime.
At the funeral, Sir Moi Avei, recounted their time together in Australia: “While we, the island students, would shy back for being in a foreign society of white people.
“John would stand up amongst them and boldly express himself as the leader he was.”
Last Friday Sir Moi came with a peroveta group which sang a tribute on behalf of the Boera community. Their presence was greatly appreciated by Chief John’s people.
The friendship had forged a strong bond between their villages of Boera and Yalumgwa. The Boera people had once visited Yalumgwa on a cultural exchange and played a cricket match.
“Although we were the best of friends and soul brothers, John was always moving on,” Sir Moi recalled.
“And I always chased after him whenever I wanted to meet with him. Here today I meet him at last. Bamahuta, my soul brother.”
It was at UPNG where John’s talent as a poet and writer was encouraged and most of his short stories published. No less than 11 books were published under his name.
He also wrote plays and composed songs. ‘My Black Brother, My Enemy’ had his byline and he co-authored the play, ‘Sail the Midnight Sun’.
John became more radical at UPNG and pushed against the colonial administration of PNG. He became increasingly involved in issues of self-determination. His writings carried the voice of Independence.
A colleague and renowned early writer, Russel Soaba, described the passing of John as a sad moment for PNG literature. John’s work had inspired many young writers and poets.
“He was not only a wantok but more like a brother to me,” said Russel. “I will dearly miss him.”
Another prominent best friend from the intellectual elite wa, founding Chief Secretary Robert Igara.
He and John shared many views, Robert said, and he had greatly treasured John’s writing.
Perhaps John’s most important achievement in the Trobriand Islands was to establish the Kabisawali Movement.
In 1972 John withdrew from his studies at UPNG and returned to the Trobriand Islands to start the Movement, something that had a huge impact on the island people’s lives.
He took control of the island, was made president and won most seats in the local government council, leaving only a few to his predecessor and former member of the House of Assembly, the late Lepani Watson.
At its height, the Movement was aggressive. The council became an autonomous entity and cut ties with the colonial Administration in Alotau.
The island became politically divided and the only established guest house was burned down.
Foreign-owned businesses were closed, stopping development and denying people their major income earner, tourism.
A police contingent was brought from Port Moresby to quell the situation.
Sir Moi, who helped mediate the peace, said the Kabisawali Movement had similarities to the Mataungan Association in East New Britain and Papua Besena in Papua.
All these movements opposed outside influence and pushed for the progress of their own people.
An Okeikoda village mate of John, Allan Mokolava, described him as a natural leader when growing up. Mokolava was already working with a bank in Port Moresby when John approached him and many others to return home and help in the Kabisawali Movement.
Allan said they were persuaded because they believed John’s vision. Under the Kabisawali Movement, business and other activities boomed, expanding even to Port Moresby.
But when John was gaoled in 1978 things fell apart. That is another story.
One of John’s sons, Edrick Kelai, was honest to the roots of his hair when he talked about his father.
John was almost always away from home – elsewhere on the island, in Alotau and Port Moresby, on Muwo, a coconut plantation island offshore from Losuia, or on Woodlark Island doing things that Edrick did not know.
While he was in college, Edrick did not see his father for three years, although he would sometimes see his father’s picture in the newspapers.
Although emotional, Edrick stated firmly that Chief John Kasaipwalova “in life or in the spirit world will always be our father who ensured that I and my sisters received all help to face the world today.”
Farewell my brother. Rest in peace.
Mulai Robby is a retired journalist who formerly worked with the PNG National Broadcasting Corporation
Goodbye my Jena
A short-story by Job Zigu
I was thirty-two when my wife died and little Jena was only four. My bookshop was in-front of the yard and I thought of keeping the house and bookshop instead of selling the yard with them. The bookshop would be able to sustain our livelihoods and pay the bills.
All day while I worked in the shop on orders from clients with my assistant (I had an assistant), Jena played in the backyard; and sometimes I had to go out for a few drinks, the woman next door, Julie, took care of her. I could cook, or so I thought; coffee and lamb flaps and breed being breakfast. I also fried potatoes, bananas, and I also learnt that Diana Tuna and biscuits were good for kids.
When Julie told me this was not the diet for kids, I said, “Well, why don’t you come on over and teach me how to cook”, (not that I meant every sense of it, just wanted to say something back at her), to which she did; teaching me how to cook chicken and veggies, but every time I cooked these ‘things’, the pots and pans always got burnt and it was another hard work scrubbing them, plus these ‘things’ were expensive, and living in the city was tough and the bookshop was doing well but not making enough.
I did keep things neat and tidy, being with Jena and all; she needs to live in a healthy place. I swept the floors, but only the centre, not the corners, and when I cleaned the windows, they seemed to be more blurry. I also had to do the laundry; it was total torture. I wished we had a washing-machine.
I bought Jena a cat, for she might get lonesome, and, at night I made her say her prayers kneeling in the middle of the room, and speaking like a speeding car. If I forgot about the prayer, I would wake her up or it would be the first thing in the morning. Prayer was important. And I did pray too. I prayed: “Lord, help me do what is right for her, even if I’m doing the wrong things”.
One time, Jena and I were walking past a shop and Jena wanted to go in. It was a toy shop and I knew Jena loved toys and I didn’t have any money so I tricked her about having some ice-cream and we walked home and she forgot about the ice-cream, and that was it. There’re some things in this world that poor, sad little girls can’t have. And those are the good things.
Jane was six years old when I fell ill with pains in my chest and a bad cough on a Monday afternoon, and I went to see a doctor at the Hospital. The walk back was a slow tiring one. My mind was filled with all kinds of horrible, depressing thoughts. I always hated hospitals; they were depressing places to go to. Upon arriving home, I walked into the living room and lay on the old couch with torn cushions. The evening sun was beaming through the windows of the side wall in bright squares. The news wasn’t good. The doctor told me it was worse than he expected. And what could he do but tell me I had only twelve weeks to live. It was cancer eating me up from inside. Just then I heard Jena singing and playing in the backyard. ‘My little Jena’, I thought. Hot salty, sulphur tears burned down my cheeks.
That night when she came to kiss me goodnight, like she always did, I lied to her that I had caught the flu. I held her away from me, and said, “Jena’s a big girl now, she doesn’t need daddy to kiss her goodnight”. I knew Jena must learn not to miss me every night. I had to make her strong. But more so, I had to make myself strong. The next day I went to see another doctor- to make sure. Well, he told me the same thing. So I was sure now.
So I thought. I had a sister in Lae; but I did not have any way of contacting her, and I have never seen her or spoken to her for over ten or twenty years. Fact is: I did not know her. Jenifer (my wife) did have a brother here in Port Moresby, but he was an unemployed drug-seller, a bum. ‘I need someone who can understand a six year old, understand even her fairy songs and her kiddie mumblings and games’, I thought endlessly to myself for days.
“You know, that kid shouldn’t be living with you, with you been sick, you know”, Julie once told me, when she saw that I was growing thin and I’d shaved my head and wore a bonnet to cover it.
So after two days, and a whole night, of thinking, I advertised in the newspaper:
*A single father with a medical condition has only 12 weeks to live. He has a beautiful daughter; 6 years old, brown eyes, curly hair and cute smiles. He wants her to be adopted by a nice family. References required. Call 718634517 to enquire.*
The first people came in a dark tinted glass Toyota ‘Five-door’, just as I had wished they would. And when they stepped out of the vehicle, their clothes were shiny, just as I had dreamed. Their little daughter who was with them asked; “Is this my little sister?” Her mother turned to her and said, “Shut up. Do as Mama tells you and keep out of this. Or we’ll leave you here and take this darling little girl away.”
I heard that and I lied to her, “It’s okay Madam. I have other plans, she’s not for adoption”.
As I watched the car roll away, Julie walked over, “For Lord’s sake man”, she said, “You just denied her of a fortune. You have no right of denying her a good, rich family like that”. She meant I had no right because I was medically ill- and dying. But I knew better, and every time a car came by and I lied to them and made them go away, Julie boiled with anger. “This guy should be reported to the police”, she once told her husband.
Time was running out, I had only two weeks left to live. Then one morning, a man and a woman in their mid-thirties walked into my bookshop. The man looked like a teacher. And the woman; his wife; had a face so sad and sorrowful. I knew it was them. They had lost a child I knew. My heart bloomed with hope and in my fearful state, I took my bonnet off, walked towards them, my hands shaking as I held my bonnet in both hands before me. I told them everything. As they listened, their eyes beamed with joy, and they asked, “When can we come and take her?” I put my head down, then looked into their eyes, and said “Just give me one day with her. I hope you will understand”, and sure they did so they agreed.
That day, I did nothing but sit in the backyard and watch Jena playing. It was a hot sunny day, and her laughter and screams of joy were music to my ears. The sky was blue and how perfect it was, I thought. That evening, I cooked our dinner, chicken and veggies, and fried lamb flaps. I didn’t care if the pots and pans got burnt and black. And during dinner, I did nothing but sit there and watch her, and literally, that was all I could do; just sit there and watch her. There was an emptiness engulfing me, swallowing me, a lonesome feeling hollowing inside me. ‘I wish I had a million bucks, I’d make it (everything) all right, Jena,’ I thought.
And that night I did kiss her good night, even though, I didn’t want to, and I told her, “You’re a big girl now, daddy’s big girl. Goodbye my Jena”. She didn’t understand or maybe she did. Her lips curled up, “But daddy I’m still a little girl”.
My head sank into my hands and I felt those hot, salty, sulphur tears washing down my face. My heart sank to the bottom of the ocean, the ocean of sadness inside me, dug out by an eternal hollow burrowing in my heart.
I had her dressed up and ready the next morning. “Jena’s gonna have some visitors”, I told her. Then they arrived and Jena ran toward me and hugged me. “You’re a big girl now, Daddy’s big girl,” I reminded her.
I stood and watched the man and the woman walking down the street with Jena ahead of them. They had bought her a small red bicycle, knowing the parting might be hard. This small bicycle Jena rode and she was mesmerized and preoccupied with it, looking ahead as she rode, that she forgot to turn and wave her hand goodbye to her father.
My Name is Marcel Ezra Mapai: This is my story
My middle name is “Efi” but I decided to use “Ezra” as I wanted a Biblical Name so someone gave that name to me. I come from Central Province, Inauaia Village in Mekeo Tribe.
I completed my Degree studies at Divine Word University and obtained Degree in Business Management. I also attended the Bible College and obtained a Certificate in Ministerial Studies. I thought in the Bible School as an assistant lecturer.
I’m an author and speaker. I published my first book titled; Learning From Failure, under Shane Baiva Publishing House (SBPH) in 2022, November 21st. My second book is Titled: 5 Reasons why students fail. It will be ready for publication towards the end of March 2023.
The purpose of my first book is to help the Papua New Guineans, to learn to see failure in a new light. To understand that failure is part of the process on the path to success. In having that perspective, they’ll learn from their failures and mistakes and make wise choices and decisions to succeed in their endeavours. Failure becomes what it is when a person gives up and accepts the event in which he failed to permanently hold him down.
I have a saying that I coined. “Failure is just an event. Not a person.” The point here is this. If you make failure you. You’ll fail! You’ll have to learn to separate your failure from you. Don’t allow it to defeat you. In that way, you can learn from it and make informed choices and decisions next time.
My newly published book this month is to help the students to do well in their studies by offering 5 areas which leads to students failure in school which are as follows;
- Lack of Visions and dreams
- Not willing to work hard in school
- Lack of discipline
- Lack of Goal setting and Priorities
- Abuse of time
I’m so passionate to see young generation of PNG to become responsible man and woman. As such, I’ve writing books and news articles to reach the Nation for this purpose.
It’s a blessing to see young people getting inspired and motivated through my books and articles and in my speaking engagements. Many young people seek my advice and encouragements, and mentoring as they want to overcome their challenges to achieve their dreams and visions.
I believe, people make up the Nation. To build the Nation. We’ll have to build the people.
May God bless you!
Marcel Ezra Mapai
Author and Speaker
Sonnet#101: Put crabs in Willy’s boxes
Celebrate World Poetry Day with this poetic essay in modern sonnet form by Michael Dom
“In fairness however, in the contest between free verse and so-called fixed forms, many modernists did reject the sonnet as an over-rehearsed exercise. William Carlos Williams famously shunned it as an artificial frame imprisoning the energy of modern America, famously likening it to ‘putting a crab into a square box’ (Interviews, 30). His provocative image also pleaded for poetry’s right to go sideways, to eschew the sonnet’s well-trodden rational or argumentative path, a claim made by today’s postmodern poets, who struggle with the commodification of all forms of discourse, poetry included. Therefore what seems at stake in writing the sonnet today is a tension between truth to materials – the aesthetic imperative for a poem to be written in a certain form – and a (post-)modernist critique of representation, the scepticism over one’s very means of expression.”Mapping the Contemporary Sonnet in Mainstream and Linguistically Innovative in late 20th and early 21st Century British Poetry* By Carole Birkan-Berz
Sonnet #101: Put crabs in Willy's boxes E! Willy, when we’s went crabbing det time, (1) we’s put dem crabs in small boxes but not tied wid strings – see? – We waded mud an’ grime on det grassy lime-green shore. We forgot how kwik dey could run sidewise an’ fearsome flail der claws – make us fingers regret it! But, we got dem all good an’ proper. Put (2) dem in 10×14 boxes cut-to-fit. (3) Boy or girl! It sure was sumting to see (4) all d’ose boxes zooming sidewise across da beach, bumpin n’ bumblin out to sea, pointy claws pokin thru holes on da sides. An’ d’ose seabirds, like one ol’ seaman’s rime, (5) followin d’ose boxes down da shoreline
- * Atelier de la SEAC, congrès de la SAES “L’appellation”, mai 2013. Published in Etudes britanniques contemporaines, nb. 46.
- 1 The tone and flow of the poem was modeled on English speech pattern of Hiri Motuan people, familiar at least to the author while growing up in Port Moresby during the 1990’s.
- 2 Traditional sonnet structures are ten syllables (pentameter) in fourteen lines, with each verse structure serving specific functions, like boxes, for making the poetic argument. This line does not ‘fit’ the pentameter scheme.
- 3The turning phrase (‘But’) arrives on the seventh line, unlike traditional sonnet eighth or ninth line, and within the first part of the structure is not posed as an argument, seemingly in agreement with William Carlos Williams ‘boxing of crabs’. Rather, the opposing argument is presented as an imaginary observation in the second part of the sonnet, where the crabs have burst through the boxes, fleeing blindly across the beach, pursued by curious seabirds.
- 4 A play on the gendered expression ‘Boy oh boy’ which concludes the misused collective pronouns ‘us’ ‘we’ and ‘our’ in the Petrarchan octet (ABABA’BBB) and simultaneously form the volta into the sextet (CDCEAA’’).
- 5Reference to lyric poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which argues how a ship thrown off course ends up in the Pacific and how the protagonist finds his way back to his own country. He shoots an Albatross that follows the ship after a storm and from there his story unwinds. This line is a heroic couplet with an open end.
- Lae, September 26, 2021
We are one and the same
Celebrate World Poetry Day with this magnificent poem by Kaija Aroga, author of Bill Belfast short stories
A late entry in the World Environment Day 2022 Mini-Poetry Competition, the adjudicator, Samoan poetess, journalist and dramatist, Faumuina Felolini Maria Tafuna’i, said that in this poem Ms. Aroga shows us how to avoid “the throng of environmental evangelism”.
This is a good poem.
We are one and the same The secret to loving everything Is to love just one thing When I saw him it was on a pale eve With the last of the light taking leave And so I loved the sunset that revealed him to me Along with the rain tree That sheltered the park on the night He looked may way and smiled at the sight Of whatever it was that amused Him enough to cast me a bemused Smile but it’s while the wind makes golden waves of the honey duke fields on sultry noon’s That I talk about him to the pale moon Then I love the way nature responds in silent whispers Like his voice: a hushed breeze that calms and the soul lingers To love the forests we tread and the mountains we hiked To wish no harm came to his coral reefs where we scuba dived To love one thing Is to love everything Because in the sand is his footprints And on the hilltops are the missing links That pointed me home To all the evergreen abodes he roamed So in loving him and everything else was to love the flowers he cherished And the others about to diminish To love the lands he traversed was to want them protected and conserved To say this is his history, this is his people, this is his heritage Is to say these are all mine too and I am proud of the same privilege To call this part of the southern sky his and my home And to want nothing more than for it to remain a pristine evergreen dome Being one and the same Though bearing different names His hands the coarse color of brown earth from which we were formed My womb the birthplace of generations yet to be born Our home a lush mass in an ocean of blue I know not the difference between me and you.
Silence me not
Celebrate World Poetry Day with this poem by Fidelma Saevaru
I used sit in silence. Watch from a tiny distance. Pretend I was deaf to the things I heard. Wished I was blind to the stuff I saw. Denied strong emotions to what I felt. That was before. Today I know the plight of silence. A bashed-up wife, A beaten daughter, Son out of control, Family in chaos, Community in detest, Stranger in the neighbourhood, Item of gossip groups. Those are the ripples of silence. Tomorrow, I gain my voice My ears all hearing, My eyes all seeing My feelings attentive, My mind discerning, My tongue filed. Master Silence I no longer tolerate. To him I cease to bow. His reign I will forever end, A captive I shall be no more. Silence me not. I have gained my voice for sure. Setting me free and others too.
Celebrate World Poetry Day with this poem by Issabelle Vilau, dedicated to late Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare
By Thousands we are Hundreds of Islands scattered across, the silky blue surface of the Pacific Ocean Mountain ranges stood tall and proud like a King Crowned with rare jewel of untouched virgin forests and Clothed with the royal robe of endemic flora and fauna By Thousands we are Tribes sparsely scattered across the land like a broken pieces of a bottle Going from the highlands to the Islands And from the Lowlands to the coast By Thousands we are Who would have though we could come together? Who would have thought Freedom was Calling? Impossible it seemed But not to Him The Man who wanted freedom for his land By Thousands we are Colourful headdresses dancing on top our heads The beat of Kundu drums echoing throughout the land And the joyful singing and dancing poured out the land September 16, 1975 The Day Freedom arrived on OUR shores The Land of a Thousand Tribes, United. By Thousands we are And One was chosen What extraordinary capability the Man must have possessed Leading the land he loved so dearly to Freedom If he should be described let it be Grand. Courageous and Patriotic. Visionary, Wise. Genuine and Charismatic. And a thousand more words. From the Thousand words, one word is Him “SANA” That is Him, the ‘Peacemaker’ A Great Chief A True Patriotic and A wise Man By Thousands we are Divided by tribes and culture, languages and ideologies Now we stand together as One The true black, white, yellow and red, Fly high and proud The land cried out with a grateful Heart To Honor the great Man, who brought freedom to this Land By Thousands we are And ‘SANA’ Unites us We are truly one is a Thousand And a Thousand in One Can never be more grateful to The Father of this Nation The Late Grand Chief, Sir Micheal Thomas Somare, for A Free and United Thousands we are
Celebrate World Poetry Day with this poem by Lorna Saguba
My sand, Our footprints, Once trodden, Water covers, Waves breaking, Childhood fading, Tears dripping, My hopes hanging. My sand, Our heart prints, Once beating, Water covers, Sea crashing, Childhood fading, Tears dripping, My hopes hanging. My sand, Our stories, Once making, Water covers, Now cracking, I am fading; Tears dripping, Hopes vanishing. My sand?