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Whether it is "Redefining literary techniques and devices", "Justifying Papua New Guinea Literature", or "Translating the Bible into Anuki", these offer valuable reading for the paperless student of literature, and indeed the best sort of literary entertainment you can get out of Papua New Guinea. Check them out either on Soaba's Storyboard or The Anuki Country Press.

Friday, 21 September 2012

When ignorance is bliss: poetry, trolls, toads and the curse of anonymity

Margaret Daure... taking the Writers' Forum to the higher stations of creativity.
Man is a creative being.

Creativity is his birthright.

But that claim of birthright needs to be justified somewhat so he creates a certain field of academic discipline known as literature. Literature then becomes a worthy preoccupation enabling man to undertake much research into that area of creativity in order to justify his existence as a creative being. In addition to literature he creates other disciplines of study such as Philosophy, History, Psychology, Mathematics and the pure and applied sciences.

Everything done in the discipline of literature is purely imaginative. Thus, the use of the word fiction. Nothing of what is done in fiction is true or factual. But that activity alone strikes us as fascinating because it contains a certain amount of truth about humanity that cannot readily be denied or brushed aside as false.

The study of literature also helps us improve our own sense of viewing things around us. We may read about a fictitious character whose examples as a hero we would like to follow, for example. He may be a role model in one way or another and in following him we improve ourselves as human beings.

Literature also helps us develop a conscience for ourselves. Notable scholars of literature sometimes refer to this notion of conscience as developing “a faculty of judgment” for ourselves. We empower ourselves with the ability to distinguish between good and bad, right and wrong, truth and falsehood.

Yet despite all this creative or imaginative activity there is this impeding phenomenon of us not being able to tell the difference between fact and fiction sometimes! When is fiction “fiction” and fact “fact”? Some critics refer to this notion as distinguishing form and content. Everything about literature revolves around just those two entities: form and content. Both are inseparable according to our literary experts, as inseparable as W.B. Yeats’ rhetoric utterance: “How can we know the dancer from the dance?”

Literature also, in the final analysis, forms the basis of a people’s culture. So then, as Papua New Guineans, whatever it is that we write must reflect the culture that we represent. You probably heard of the phrase, “A writer is the product of his society”.

The above are the seven basic points about literature. These are viewed as standard attempts at defining what literature is at schools and universities throughout the world. It is imperative that a literature student becomes aware of these seven points of literature before embarking on serious study and research of the discipline. To all our writers these points also serve as important tools to keep in mind when setting out to write poems, short stories, essays and plays.

All these points are important for us to consider as they help us to strive for those higher stations of achievement in creativity. This has been the topic of my talk at our Crocodile Literary workshop observed at the Australian High Commission on Tuesday, 11th September 2012. Although the main theme of the talk was intended to be on the trolls, toads and the curse of anonymity in creative literature, I have decided against letting the real trolls and toads of PNG literature become the cause of distraction in our main objective – which was to seriously ensure that the whole workshop was a success as a prelude to the presentation of the Crocodile Literary Prizes which would ensue the following evening.

But regarding the “trolls” and “toads” we are glad that our colleagues of writing particularly those at the Writers’ Forum of the National Weekender have improved tremendously over the last seven months or so, under the tutelage of Margaret Daure, the editor of the National Weekender. The forum is now no longer flooded with pseudonyms (the trolls, the toads, the mean pseudonyms) but with people who are genuinely interested in writing the best as part of Papua New Guinea literature.

Under Daure’s mentorship each poem submitted for publication in that forum is carefully edited with room for improvement for her contributors, among them David Soroda, David Kumbako, Daniel Sakumai, P. Naringi and others. Although traces of plagiarism are still apparent as unwanted insertions here and there, Margaret Daure takes every step necessary to carefully mentor each of her poets. Each poem that finally appears in print shows evidence of a master craftsman at work, in shaping and moulding each word, each turn of phrase, each stanza; in chiselling and honing them, as it were, until the result we see is something closer to excellence in creativity.

We commend Margaret Daure for the good work she does for her poets. Writers from the Milne Bay Province will certainly be proud to learn that Margaret comes from Duria Village, in the Ahioma area. Good on you, editor.


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