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

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.

Source: BBC 50 reasons to #LoveTheWorld
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

Courageous and Patriotic.
Visionary, Wise.
Genuine and Charismatic.
And a thousand more words.

From the Thousand words, one word is Him
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

My Sand?

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?

Reflecting on childhood memories of PNG’s first PM visit

By Paul Minga

Michael Somare became the first PNG Prime Minister in 1975

THE BUZZING HELICOPTER took my childhood attention unexpectedly by storm in offloading PNG’s first PM Michael Thomas Somare was at where now Kerowil Singirok, PNGDF Engineering Battalion Highlands base is located.

Every Papua New Guinean born before or after independence has their own story to share, reflect, reminisce, highlight and tell others about their encounter or sighting of PNG founding PM – the Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare.

I was born sometimes in 1973 and was fortunate to have caught of my country’s founding and first PM for the first time as a 6 or seven year old boy at Kerowil, a village located 20 kilometers or so east of Banz town.

Around that time the area hosted the North and South Waghi LLG Council chambers and Kerowil Community School in the Waghi Valley in the late seventies.

It was during 1979 or 1980, as l can’t really recall the exact year or date for l was an out of school boy at that time.

News and rumors of the PM and the local MP Kaibelt Diria visit to Kerowil was spreading fast in the village a few days earlier. That made every grown up person excited about the occasion and eager to see their PM and their local MP.

My peers and I did not care so much about all the fuss going on in the village about the PM’s visit to Kerowil as our minds and interest were focused on different childhood activities at the time.

Anyway, a day before the visit was due for PM Somare and our local MP to visit Kerowil my mum encouraged me to join the greeting crowds.

I could still remember that evening mum said to me, “It’s your golden chance to see the country big men coming to Kerowil tomorrow. Your dad and everyone else are going so you must go along with dad and see Michael Somare – the country boss.”

What mum said to me that evening was something interesting enough to make me so excited that I questioned dad repeatedly if the two of us were for certain going to Kerowil together the next day to see Michael Somare.

Dad knew how eager and anxious l was that evening so he promised to take me along to the big occasion the next day. That night l went to bed on my canvas and cardboard bed as excited as ever.

The mood l was in was just the same as when there is going to be a pig killing ceremony to be held in the morning the next day.

In the early morning hours of the next day, village elders and chiefs were shouting out announcements in reminding every able person to leave behind whatever planned activity for the day and be all in attendance at Kerowil for the PM’s visit.

On that day those who had planned activities and shows to entertain the crowd and welcome the PM and his delegation prepared early in the morning and were all congregating into Kerowil for the occasion.

The day was as fascinating and exciting for an out of school boy as me, seeing villagers in traditional attire that were as sparkling and colourful. Some acted as comedians from their rehearsal of different activities and showed that they were planning to stage at Kerowil for the occasion. There was much in store to see and enjoy that day as l followed dad and we made a journey of about 10 kilometers walk to Kerowil from our village.

Upon our arrival at Kerowil it was a real spectacle, beyond my imaginations, with the singing, plays and staging of show by different cultural and comedian groups. What was as big crowd attraction were the brass band and posing of early white explorer Jim Taylor’s “BRUKIM BUS” scene were feast of lead up activities into the main occasion of the PM’s visit.

While witnessing all forms of show and entertainment, I thought to myself, wow what a scene and what a day.  One thing funny was that I wasn’t aware that our country PM and the entourage would travel to Kerowil in a chopper. Even my dad wasn’t aware about that too.

As dad and l were not aware of PM Somare coming to Kerowil by air, we enjoyed the good time away in fully concentrating on all the show that were as amusing and entertaining going on over the day.

Unfortunately, the sound of all the singing, the beating of drums, cheering and shouting of the crowd made the place became deafening. So we couldn’t hear the chopper carrying the PM and delegation was coming in to land.

As the chopper came near, all of a sudden people called out in our vernacular “Hoi wonum, wonum” meaning its coming, its coming.

At that instant people were colliding and bumping into each other amongst the crowd, trying to make way for the chopper to land.

It was rather funny because the crowd was also not aware of the incoming chopper and they were also taken by surprise. Dad and I were being pushed over in the melee and stampede but we were holding hands at the time.

I feel down but dad stood firm and pulled me up again. At that instant l was confused with the crowd action, with the stampede and everything else that was going on, l thought a mad man was running wild and people were trying to flee for cover.

As only an out of school boy l mistook the crowd action for a mad man giving them chase. But it wasn’t as l thought. It was the landing chopper that brought PM Somare – its swirling propellers sent flying sticks, leaves and other objects hitting the onlookers face forcing them to take cover. It was a hilarious melee.

This funny incident l still recall to this day as a middle aged person.

In recalling that from my memory, as the chopper made touch down at Kerowil Community School playing field, for some like me who had never seen a landed chopper in my lifetime, l stood in awe with eyes wide open.

It was as a rare opportunity for me to get a glimpse of the landing craft at that time during the visit by our country’s founding PM. I gazed at the chopper with my heart  beating rapidly to see what would eventuate next.

First to step out was a white pilot, then the man whose name l used hear a lot about, in a grey laplap type garment and shirt followed by our local MP Kaibelt Diria, and two other persons made their way up to the grandstand to the applause and cheering of the crowd. That was the first sighting of my country pioneer and founding PM as an out of school boy in the late seventies at Kerowil, North Waghi in Jiwaka.

Kumani-The Poem

By Fiada Kede

Source Bosco Link Australasia: Young man and woman dance at a cultural (By Ms. Arlene Abital)
he, Kumani
in a gentle, but deep voice
uttered a breath
as he holds my hand
"Darling? write, of me a poem "
I paused for a sec-
breath a sigh
looked him in the eyes
-the eyes that brim with love like a consuming fire
of which I was just about to melt like a wax of candle
then, said, I

"How dare, could I ?
Being a novice,
a mere dust and vapor,
trapped inside the body of a flawed abade
whose ink, even the slightest of pint,
would jail me for a drip on a poetry so perfect
-a Kumani like you "

I squeeze his hands so tightly like I couldn't let go
added, I, calmly and gently, while holding his stare
"You are the poetry,
- the perfect of the poems,
written not with ink
crafted and carved
perfect epitome of an art
by the hands so perfect
-perfect of the Poets
I, would stretch

E T E R N I T Y  E X P L O R I N G

your pitch-perfect rhythm and rhyme
your metaphor and simile, will I digest
your assonance and consonance, will I sing
your alliteration will be my iteration
for thousand and thousands of sunsets and sunrises
Oh Kumani!
The poem I will read billion and  a zillions of times.

Note: Kumani in Frigano dialect of Lufa can be used as a noun; name of a person and adjective; to describe a person who's so handsome or pretty or a person  "we em i karim gutpla pasin"
Abade also in Frigano dialect refers to a young girl

Just a little walk in the dark

Flash fiction by Raymond Sigimet

Source ABC: A dark track at night

“Bro, hariap ya! Plis o! Move a little faster yah.”
He kept talking and irritating me, like a betel nut stain on a wall.
I’m big for my size and quite slow. That’s why.
I’m also fed up with the nagging. I truly am.
Like I’m fed up with how friends compare me to an overfilled water balloon.
Or they say I’m fed up with how my family compares me to a whale with limbs.
Why in the name of my beloved ancestor did I let this bugger tag along?
He needs to zip it. I felt drained listening to him.
“You forgot the torch, bro. Hau yu lus tingting ya?” his voice sounded like sour lime.
“We need the torch…. can’t see where we’re goin’. Hat long lukluk gut ya. There are snakes and centipedes and scorpions.”
Oloman! Man ya bai toktok yet ya. Yes, I’ve become forgetful lately.
It’s dark and there’s no torch but I don’t need to have my ears bashed.
“I know. Sori mi lus tingting long torch ya.” I had to respond.
I felt bruised from all his talk and tired from all the walking.
He started again.
“It’s dark bro… don’t like the idea of walking in the dark. Kainkain samting stap ya…”
“You’ve been talking forever!” The irritation fermented in my mouth.
“Just concentrate on where we’re going. My ears are bleeding man… just stop talking, will you?”
I wiped the sweat from my forehead. It was unpleasantly cold and sticky.
“If you’re thinking of becoming a radio repeater station, I’ll leave you standing here in the dark.”
His rambling criticisms seemed never-ending. I did not need to be constantly admonished by this kapamaus.
I’d already scolded myself for forgetting the torch and didn’t need him to keep piling on.
I doubled my pace just to keep calm and not be provoked.
Come to think of it, what kind of friend is it who continuously irritates you over minor things.
Mi belhat na belkaskas wantaim ya. I was sick and tired of his rebukes.
We’d been on good terms since I can remember. But now, he was not acting like a friend at all.
“If only we had the torch, we could see where we’re goin’,” he started again. My face flushed.
“Mi hat long lukluk ya … You sure we’re goin’ in the right direction and not in circles.”
I detected a note of fear in his voice. Was he afraid of the dark?
I was contemplating whether to increase my pace even further to put more distance distance between us.
Instead I decided to ease his anxiety.
“Even if it’s dark, I’m quite sure of the path,” I assured him. “This track is familiar – like the back of my hand.”
“Look, we can’t see in front of us and …” he stammered.
“Yes, I know. My brain is also processing. What’s your point. “I hope you’re not going to mention the torch again.
“But…” I blew up before another word passed his lips.
“Shut up! Stop! Just don’t talk! Inap long toktok ya!”
I spun around to face him and we stood still like burned out tree trunks for a while.
I then turned and walked on.
He didn’t speak for some time. Nor did I. We just strode blindly along the track. Me in the lead, he following.
The tall trees, the rattan and brush seemed to close in making each step unsure.
But at least the torch nagging was quelled.
After a few minutes, I heard him talking.
“You remember the man and woman, the red-hot couple?
“The ones who claimed they got lost and walked in circles in the forest for a whole night?”
“The short one and the tall one. Yeah, I remember.”
“Well, the gossip was that they were actually meeting in the forest.
“It was when they were taking a dive in the deep that they were caught.
“Yeah, well, what I heard was that they were playing rugby when they were disturbed in a tackle by some youths.”
“Well, they claimed during the mediation that they were on separate errands when the short tree spirits tricked them and.… but everyone knew what happened in the bush,” he said.
“There was gossip brewing in the village and magistrate Zero didn’t want a scandal. The magistrate was also sympathetic to the hurt parties.”
“So did they pay compensation for their sins?” I asked. “I did not attend the mediation.”
Mediations in this part of the world are like public inquisitions without the stocks, stakes and fires.
“No, there was no compensation. Both denied everythin’. Life went back to normal for everyone.
“It’s strange how people forgive and forget and life continues as if nothing happened,” he continued, talking more to himself than to me.
It was then that we approached the clearing leading to the village.
“You have arrived at your destination.” His mimic of the woman’s voice on the GPS was clever but unnecessary.
We could see fires and silhouettes of the village houses. We were home.
I stepped into our house and could see my father husking a betel nut for another chew.
He’d been keeping a lookout for me. He knew I hated doing his errands in the night.
“Hey, you’ve returned so quickly,” he said.
“Yeah, I had to walk fast,” I responded. “It was dark.”
“I guess so,” Pa replied, “I noticed some minute after you left you forgot the torch.
“It’s still on the chair where you left it.”
He pointed to the cheap plastic chair where I’d been sitting before he sent me to check on grampa and gramma who lived at their own place 20 minutes away.
“I thought I heard you talking with someone just now. Did you come with someone.”
“Na, no pa, it was just me,” I stammered, feeling stupid.
“I, uh, was talking to myself. Just urging myself along in the dark.”

belhat na belkaskas wantaim – angry and furious at the same time
bro – brother
hariap – hurry
hat long lukluk gut – hard to see clearly
inap long toktok ya – stop talking
kainkain samting stap ya – all kinds of things are here
kapamaus – someone who constantly talks or nags (may have originated from the irritating sound metal scraping against metal)
lus tingting – forget
mi hat long lukluk ya – I’m looking hard
plis – please
sori – sorry
ya bai toktok yet ya – you really can talk

The Old Justice is Dead

A poem by Raymond Sigimet

Spirit or Long house at Gojomas village, Sepik Region, Papua New Guinea
The old justice is dead, and lost to time
Where once in the hausman it chanted at night 
Amidst broken betel nut and waft of lime 
Spoken in a chanted glow of embers’ light

Burnt and buried, the old justice of the past
Where balance and order were societal norm 
Calling upon ancestors and act not in haste 
To pass judgement from man’s earthly worm

No more calling of ancestors, but devil's chime 
No more juries of aged but nightly flight 
While masked in shifting forms hidden from time 
Where nature obeys to man's spoken might 

Now a darker flame in the hausman is cast 
Every fear of night like an advancing storm
A new order of scheming, blood and fast
Twisting the old justice far from its form