“Vernacular traces in the Crocodile Prize – Part 2”
An essay in five parts
BY MICHAEL DOM WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS BY ED BRUMBY
2. Wanwan i raitim tok-singsing na tanim tok
Long kirap bilong Crocodile Prize Nesenol Litireri Kompetisen long 2011 nambawan taim we hanmak bilong wanpela poet i kamap long Tok Ples em long taim Jimmy Drekore ibin tanim tokples Dinga long wanpela tok-singsing ‘Advice from a Warrior’.
"Wana elge pikra / Son don’t go too far / bi panamia, kanre pa / There’ll be ambush / Careful, don’t push / Nenma unawa kanre, Kuman meklanna / When your fathers are here / You’ll step closer / Nene hone pikra / Never go alone."
Ating dispela ves bilong tok-singsing emi sutim stret tingting bilong yumi long nau olsem “Nenma unawa kanre, Kuman meklanna / Nene hone pikra”, em olsem, “Taim ol papa bilong yu istap / Bai yu ikam klostu / Noken igo yu iet”.
Dispela em i stori long taim bilong ol tumbuna i laik na pait ol yangpela man i save kisim skul toktok wantaim ol papa bilong ol na ol lidaman bilong pait. Ol i mas stap klostu wantaim na noken tru ron igo pas bilong wanem ol birua bai pundaunim ol wanwan sapos ol igo bilong ol iet.
Tok-singsing bilong Drekore em i makim wankain nek olsem yumi mas harim ol gutpela toktok na skelim bilong ol papa na mama long kamap olsem strongpela man na meri bilong Papua Niugini, na tu long holim strong ol gutpela kastam, kalsa na pasin we ol tumbuna igatim long kamapim strongpela komuniti na wokbung wantaim.
Jimmy Drekore wanpela poet husait i save raitim tok-singsing bihainim stret nek bilong ol tumbuna long tokples Dinga. Em ino save mekim ol kainkain kalakala toktok nating long bilasim nek bilong em, long soim save na givim em iet biknem, nogat. Jimmy i kisim nem ‘Bush Poet’, na trutru em i save kamautim stori long tok-pisin ikam long nek tru bilong bus na asples tumbuna.
Long lukluk bilong mi Drekore em ibin brukim kiau stret long raitim nambawan tok-singsing long tokples Dinga we istap insait long Crocodile Prize Entologi 2011 (p98). Inogat narapela raita i bin putim hanmak long Tok Ples na long Tok Pisin long wanpela wok bilong ol long dispela taim.
Long 2012 kompetisen ibin kirap strong tru na Entologi bilong dispela yia em bikpela buk inapim 375 pages. Tasol insait long dispela buk bai yu inap lukim tupela tok-singsing tasol long Tok Pisin.
Wanpela tok-singsing mi raitim em ibin nambawan hanwok we mi tanim-tok Inglis ‘Where we lived’ igo tokpisin ‘Ples we mitupela ibin stap wantaim’ (p147). Dispela tok-singsing i stap iet olsem wanpela hanwok mi laikim tru. Dispela tok-singsing istap tu long tokples Hiri Motu.
"Strongpela win ibin kam long nait, em soim piksa Bikpela belhat na laikim istap namel long graun na solwara Na mitupela ino bin save olsem Dispela taim bai klostu pinis Mitupela stori long diwai-wine em ino karim kaikai Na putim iau tasol Long ol toktok inogat nek"
Keith Jackson ibin skelim olsem dispela tok-singsing igatim nek bilong bel sore tru blong yumi ol Melanesia we i narakain long ol arapela lain.
Narapela tok-singsing mi raitim ‘Yobwandaruanem’ inobin stap insait long Entologi tasol em igat stori long singsing olsem ol tumbuna isave mekim. Dispela singsing mipela ol sumatin long Gordons Hai Skul ibin lainim long 1990 Kalsa Dei, mi tingim nek bilong em tasol tokples mi lus tingting pinis. Long dispela tok-singsing bai yu harim na bihanim nek bilong ol lain i save danis na singsing tumbuna. Em igatim ol singsing isave kamap gen na gen (chorus), na tu igat tumbuna nem Yobwandaruanem, emi wanpela strognpela diwai, na singsing eim autim stori long ol kain pasin bilong em. Dispela stori tok-singsing i givim piksa bilong gutpela lidaman we ol man-meri i laikim long en na save bihainim long painim gutpela sindaun.
Narapela tok-singsing Bernard Sinai i bin raitim em ‘Trupla Man’ (p225). Long dispela tok-singsing Bernard tromoi wanpela nek igo long ol man i save paitim meri bilong ol, bikmaus, bikhet raun na ino save long pasin bilong ol man tru; “Trupla man ino man blong pait / Tasol trupla man i save long pait / Yu no trupla man, yu mas giaman man ya”.
Ating dispela nek i mas kamap strong long nau.
Long Crocodile Prize 2013 mipela ol niupela kru i laik ronim kompetisen tasol em inobin kamap gut, olsem na inogat planti wokmak bilong dispela yia. Entologi buk em 169 pages tasol na soim olsem mipela ino mekim gut toksave na kirapim tingting bilong ol raita long salim wok ikam. Na ating imas igat sampela bel hevi tu i pasim laik bilong ol raita long salim hanwok bilong ikam long kompetisen.
Mi iet inobin wanbel long wanem mi bin raitim na tanim tokpisin long ol sampela tok-singsing we igat nem ‘sonnet’ long Tok Inglis. Ol sonet em ol kain hanmak bilong ol Inglis long bihainim taim yu i laik raitim wanpela tok-singsing. Mi brukim het tru long dispela wok na kamapim tripela sonet tasol, nem bilong ol ‘Sonet 6: Long tulai bai tumi kalapim dispela banis kalabus’, “Sonet 8: Dispela Nambawan Meri Tru’ (English), na ‘Sonet 10: ‘lele ino mo laikim pinga bilong mi”. Sonet 8 tasol i bin kamap long 2013 Entologi (p50).
Long narapela tupela sonet mi tanim tokpisin tasol Sonet 10 em i nambawan sonnet we mi tingting wantaim na raitim long Tok Pisin na mi hamamas tru long lukim hanwok bilong mi long en. Mi laikim tru nek bilong tokpisin igo insait long dispela hanmak bilong ol Inglis poet olsem William Shakespeare na John Milton. Ating em wanpela kain wokmak mi putim long kisim sonnet long Tok Inglis ikamap tru olsem sonet bilong Tok Pisin na ino long nem tasol. Dispela Sonnet 10 em ianapim stret hanmak bilong sonnet tru na mi iet hamamas, tasol yu iet iken skelim.
2. Very few wrote poems with translations
When the Crocodile Prize began in 2011, the first time a poet wrote in his mother tongue was when Jimmy Drekore wrote and provided English translation for his Dinga poem, ‘Advice from a Warrior’
"Wana elge pikra / Son don’t go too far / bi panamia, kanre pa / There’ll be ambish / Careful you don’t push / Nenma unawa kanre, Kuman meklanna / When your fathers are here / You’ll step closer / Nene hone pikra / Never go alone."
I think this verse goes to the heart of our current thinking: ‘Nenma unawa kanre, Kuman meklanna/Nene hone pikra’, which is, “Your forefathers’ time remains/ Come close/You cannot leave”
This is a story about when our forefathers liked to fight and elders and leaders taught all the young men about fighting. They were told to stay close together and not go running around because the enemy would kill them if they did.
Jimmy Drekore’s poem reminds us that listening to the sage advice and thinking of our fathers and mothers will make all Papua New Guinean men and women strong, will help us to maintain and strengthen our traditional customs, culture and thinking and so make our communities and workplaces strong.
Jimmy Drekore is a poet who knows how to write poetry which supports the traditions of the Dinga language. He doesn’t write all kinds of empty words to illustrate his ideas and to promote himself. Jimmy has been called a ‘Bush Poet’ and it’s true that he knows how to write Tok Pisin stories that have their roots in ‘the bush’ and its traditions.
I note, too, that Drekore has broken the mould by writing the first Dinga language poem to be included in the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2011 (p98). So far, no other writer has made their mark by using their mother tongue or Tok Pisin in this way.
Although the 2012 competition was especially successful, with a large 375-page Anthology, there were only two Tok Pisin poems.
One poem I wrote was the first time I translated an English poem, ‘Where we lived’ into Tok Pisin – ‘Ples we mitupela ibin stap waintaim’ (p147). This is one poem that I really like. The poem has also been translated into Hiri Motu.
"There was the wind that night, a sign Tempestuous love affair of earth and sea And we did not know that That time would soon be at an end We spoke of the barren grapevine And listened in silence To words left unsaid … Hanuaboi ai lai ekau, una na toa Tanobada bona Davara edia lalokau dagedagena Bena ai na asia diba Una nega na dia daudau baine ore Gabani vinena aherevalaia Bena dege dege rahu ai ahakala Hereva ta sehe gwaurai"
Keith Jackson interpreted this poem as describing the distinction between we Melanesians and everyone else.
Another poem I wrote, ‘Yobwandaruanem’, which wasn’t included in the Anthology, has a reference to a song that our forefathers composed. When I and my fellow students at Gordons High School sang this song at the 1990 Culture Day, I thought that this is just traditional language and thought no more about it. In this poem you can hear and understand how the people know traditional dancing and songs. It has a chorus which is repeated over and over, and has a traditional name Yobwandaruanem – ‘strong timber’, and the song tells all kinds of stories about it. It is a narrative poem which describes a much-loved leader who provided a stable life for everyone.
Another poem that Bernard Sinai wrote is ‘Trupla Man’ (p225) in which Bernard talks to men who assault women, who have big mouths/talk too much are stubborn and don’t know how to behave like a true man: ‘ Trupla man ino man bilong pait/Tasol trupela man isave long pait/Yu no trupela man, yu mas giaman man ya”. (A true man doesn’t fight/ Even though he knows how to fight/You’re not a true man, you’re just a pretender.)
I think that this kind of voice will thrive now.
A new local PNG team administered the 2013 Crocodile Prize. But it didn’t work out very well, mainly because we didn’t receive many entries. The annual anthology comprised only 169 pages, which reflected, probably, our inability to inspire writers to submit entries. And I think that some writers must have had concerns about sending entries for the competition.
I too was concerned because I had been writing and translating some Tok Pisin poems which are called ‘sonnets’ in English. Sonnets are a particular form of English poetry. This work made my head hurt and I was able to produce three only, namely: Sonet 6: At dawn we leap free of these prison walls; Sonet 8: The Perfect Woman, and Sonet 8: My ukulele loves me no longer. Only Sonnet 8 was published in the 2013 Anthology.
I translated two of the sonnets into Tok Pisin. Sonet 10, however, was the first time I thought about, and then wrote in Tok Pisin – and I was really pleased with the result. I would love it if we could add a Tok Pisin voice to the works of English poets such as William Shakespeare and John Milton.
I think I managed to master the form and structure of English sonnets in my Tok Pisin sonnet. So, it’s not just a sonnet in name. I am really pleased that my Sonnet 10 satisfies the ‘rules’ of English sonnets. You can judge for yourself.
Sonet 10: ‘lele ino mo laikim pinga blong mi Long taim mi paitim ‘lele bilong mi fopla string stap long pinga bilong mi mekim swit mo iet singsing bilong mi. Bihain mi raun long paitim trabel man long narapela hap, Buka ailan. Mi stap, long oda bilong ol kaptan, pinga bilong mi pulim masin gun. Mi kamap olsem wanpela ‘lele string, open faia long oda blong gavman. Mi no save long– ol–no save long mi. I tru mipela wanpela kantri? Ol tu paitim ‘lele olsem blong mi… Bihain mi kam bek long ples bilong mi ‘lele ino mo laikim pinga blong mi. Sonnet 10: My ukulele loves me no longer Once I played my trusty ukulele Four strings obeyed the touch of my fingers How so sweetly we would sing together But I was sent to fight against rebels At a faraway place, Buka Island There I lived under my captains’ orders My fingers now caressed a machine gun I had become a ukulele string To open fire on government command I did not know them – they did not know me. Is it true, we are from the same country? They play the ukulele just like me… When I returned to my home lands at last My ukulele loved me no longer.