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Athabasca University


Ulli Beier established Kovave: A Magazine of New Guinea Literature in 1969 as the University’s first literary journal. Since there was no publisher in PNG at the time, Beier financed the pilot issue himself.  After having published the first issue, he was able to secure Jacaranda Press as Kovave's publisher. The journal appeared twice a year and lasted until 1975. Beier edited the journal until issue 3.2 (1971), when he turned the job over to John Kasaipwalova. Kasaipwalova edited one issue, and then editorship passed to Apisai Enos with 4.1 (1972). It remained with Enos until the journal's demise. Not only did Beier install his writers as editors of Kovave, but on the Editorial Committee as well. By 1971, all five Committee members were writers -- Soaba, Jawodimbari, Mapun, Saunana, and Enos. Clearly the journal was indigenized, except for financing, from within two years of its inception.

Kovave was the first of the literary journals that defined itself as part of the university-based system. Beier intended Kovave to serve as an experimental proving ground for whatever innovations the new writers might generate. It was also meant to serve as a meeting place for new writers. Unlike (P)NGW, Kovave was clear about the importance of genre, even if the labels did not always fit the contents. Each issue of approximately 60 pages included 10-12 examples of poetry, 4-5 items of prose, 2-3 items of folklore, and 1 example of drama. In most issues there was an article on art, one or two reviews, and perhaps a piece of criticism.

Kovave did not contain the interviews with writers and artists which became the focal point of PNGW under Roger Boschman and Jack Lahui. Nor did it give advice about writing, conference or festival news as both PNGW and Precept had.  Each of the colony’s literary journals -- the Literature Bureau's New Guinea Writing, the mission-based Precept, and the university-based Kovave -- had announced itself as “the” vehicle for writerly communication: NGW for the nation as a whole, Precept for the members of CWAMEL, and Kovave for the student writers at UPNG.

Updated October 13 2016 by Library Services