Dominica Are & her Prized Possessions

HAZEL KUTKUE
Sipikriva Girl Blog | Photographs by Dominica Are

‘Prized Possessions: A Collection of Poetry’by Dominica Are, paperback, 132 pages. Independently published, March 2020. ISBN-13 979-8622956454. Available here from Amazon for $US8.73

BRAUN – Poetry makes for beautiful literature.

Sipikriva Girl, despite not entirely embracing poetry, had the opportunity to speak to 34-year old writer, poet and accountant, Dominica Are, who recently published her first collection of poetry, Prized Possessions.

Hailing from the highlands of Papua New Guinea, Dominica works full time as an accountant with PNG Coffee Exports Ltd in Goroka.

She spent almost all of her formative years in Mt Hagen attending schools there and then moving to Madang to attend Divine Word University.

Dominica has been writing for almost 20 years, mostly poetry and short stories. As with a lot of art, often powerful emotions are the triggers of works of great beauty.

When her parents separated in 1998, she took to scribbling in her notebook about the hurt and pain she felt, and the hopes and wishes she had.

“I find solace in spilling out my thoughts and emotions. It has been quite a long journey but I haven’t given up on documenting what I go through,” Dominica says.

She religiously makes daily journal entries and it was these that form the basis of her book, which has been in the pipeline for a quite a while.

“I keep a collection of all that I’ve written over the years,” Dominica says.

“I have been keeping notebooks and newspaper cuttings of published work. When I got my first laptop at university, I started keeping e-copies.”

Dominica at her writing desk – busy with her second ‘job’

Initially Dominica wasn’t very keen on publishing. However her collection kept growing.

“I was only writing for myself.

“When I started seeing my entries published in the annual Crocodile Prize anthologies (and in My Walk to Equality), I experienced a different outlook in approaching my writing.”

Dominica decided to give publishing a shot after encouragement from people close to her.

“In 2019, I decided I must do it! I started pulling out my work from here and there.

“Seeing that all my writings were about personal experiences, I decided to have my first publication about that.”

Putting a collection of her poems together for publication was not easy for Dominica, who struggled to fight off the negative feelings of exposing her very personal experiences.

“The thought of dying with these beautiful stories within saddened me. I care about my stories. I care about my writing,” she says.

In the end, she found courage enough to tell her story through poetry.

In early 2020, Dominica contacted the late Francis Nii who helped edit and publish Prized Possessions.

Dominica likes freestyle poetry best and believes it to be her strength.

She has also dabbled in more technical styles including ballad, sonnet, ode, rondeau, kyrielle, haiku, limerick and tanka.

Prized Possessions contains 90 poems in its 116 pages.

“I want my readers to be inspired to write their own story,” Dominica says.

“No matter how ugly it may seem, your children need to hear your story.

“You might not be around long enough to relay these stories to them. Your writings can give them an important insight into your life.”

Dominica believes that our experiences, written down and read by others, might help readers who feel downtrodden and lost.

Dominica with the late Francis Nii’s tribute book ‘Man Bilong Buk’, edited by Keith Jackson and Phil Fitzpatrick

Prized Possessions was published by Francis Nii Publications through CreateSpace. Francis also played a part in editing the book.

Working with Francis, who died in August, Dominica described him as open and a straight shooter.

“I truly appreciate his honest critique on my work. There were a few pieces whose meanings were quite ambiguous so he asked me to look at them again.

“I read over and over again and found that it was true so I had to rewrite.”

Francis emphasised that writers have to think of the average Papua New Guinean reader when publishing.

At the time of publishing, Francis was very ill, but pressed on to help make Prized Possessions a reality.

Dominica faced some hurdles in getting hardcopies of her book. Amazon had stopped shipping to PNG so it was difficult to get copies.

Dominica had to buy copies of her book and have them shipped to people in Australia who shipped them to PNG.

Dominica believes government support is the way to go.

“Support should be given through the initiation of writing competitions, reviving, building libraries and supporting local authors in purchasing and distributing their books,” she says.

“The environment must be so ideal that local authors and publishers can produce well and profitably too.”

Dominica has a few words of wisdom for other writers as a parting remark.

“You don’t have to be an expert or have a background in creative writing in order to write.

“You have to make it happen. Be persistent and you’ll get better eventually.

“The most important thing is to read. Reading and writing go hand in hand. The more you read, the better your writing will be.”

Sipikriva Girl wishes Dominica only the best in her endeavours, writing or otherwise

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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