Papua Niuginian oral literature in a poem collection coming soon

Ples Singsing presents

Poems written & translated in English, Tok Pisin & Hiri Motu

This is a collection of poems by Michael Dom with translations in English, Tok Pisin, Hiri Motu, one poem in Bahasa, and one in tok ples Sinesine.

The book also contains three essays in which Michael expresses his personal thoughts about the use of Tok Pisin and our local tok ples, particularly for writing poems but also as part of developing our own unique literature.

In some ways this is already happening, for example the local drama groups who present public plays in Tok Pisin and the very active local music industry.

However, when it comes to literary endeavours most Papua Niuginians tend to think that only English will be ‘good enough’ to demonstrate their skill and capacity to write creatively or even factually.

Michael thinks that this is a silly notion that needs to change in order for PNG to really have a thriving creative writing culture, a truly creative people who reach into the depths of their own ancient heritage and languages and create uniquely PNG literature.

What’s been said about Tok Pisin in PNG poetry and literature?

“Three features of the language promise well for its future life and development: its syncretic capacity and its resultant incremental growth; the imaginative life it embodies and the new forms of figurative expression it is rapidly evolving; the successful use of Pidgin by New Guineans as a creative medium”.

Elton Brash, Tok pilai, tok piksa, na tok bokis, Kivung: Journal of the Linguistic Society of Papua and New Guinea (1971)

“Papua New Guinea’s writers needed to create an “acceptable Niuginian English, a national type of English,” just as the Americans and Australians had. This was necessary because of the sheer diversity of languages in PNG. Ultimately both the oral tradition as well as the newer contemporary literature needed to come together to create what Enos felt was “national unity through literature”.”

Richard Hamasaki, Dancing yet to the Dim Dim’s beat: Contemporary poetry in Papua New Guinea (1987)

Quote sampled from ‘Indigenous Literature of Oceania: A Survey of Criticism and Interpretation’ by Nicholas J. Goetzfridt, Greenwood February 28 1997

“Papua New Guinean writers need to talk to each other and determine what their literature means and how best to interpret and present it. There is still a lot to be discovered before a definitive national literature evolves. Regional differences, for instance, may be significant.”

Philip Fitzpatrick, Comment on PNG Attitude article, Toksingsing: danis bilong yumi iet (July 2020)

“Indigenous people look at education and learning in a different way from school system; they introduced schools in the Pacific. So there are a lot of gaps between the expectation of our traditional education and the school, and this is causing a lot of our students to fail. Part of that has to do with the language”

Professor Konai Helu Thaman, University of the South Pacific, UNESCO Chair in Teacher Education & Culture

Published by Ples Singsing

Ples Singsing is envisioned to be a new platform for Papua Niuginian expressions of creativity, ingenuity and originality in art and culture. We deliberately highlight these two very broad themes as they can encompass the diverse subjects, from technology, medicine and architecture to linguistics, music, fishing, gardening et cetera. Papua Niuginian ways of thinking, living, believing, communicating, dying and so on can cover the gamut of academic, journalistic or opinionated writing and we believe that unless we give ourselves a platform to talk about and discuss these things in an open, free and non-exclusively academic space that they may remain the fodder for academics, journalists and other types of writers alone. New social media platforms have given every individual a personal space to share their feelings and ideas openly, sometimes without immediate censure. The Ples Singsing writer’s blog would like to provide another more structured platform for Papua Niuginian expressions in written, visual and audio formats while also providing some regulation of the type and content of materials to be shared publicly.

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