Since indigenous publishing in PNG has never found a solid institutional or corporate base, the publication of series books has been extremely difficult. Aside from the Aimbe series published by Paulias Matane, the most notable series of creative publications in PNG during the period covered by this website has been the Papua Pocket Poets series published at the UPNG in the Literature department.
Chief among Ulli Beier’s accomplishments at the Literature Department of the UPNG was the Papua Pocket Poets (PPP) series which he began in order to have some oral materials for his literature classes. The first three volumes were printed in London because Beier needed to materials printed cheaply. Thereafter he published the series in Port Moresby. PPP also provided a publishing venue for the poets from Kovave and from Beier’s creative writing classes: Enos, Tawali, Kasaipwalova, Jawodimbari, Iamo, Mapun, Kavop, Kama Kerpi. It included as well a volume of poetry by Chakravarti, 18 (1970), and one by Don Maynard, 21 (1971). Aside from Jack Lahui, the Literature Bureau and mission-base poets do not appear in PPP editions except for the crossover poets Enos, Tawali, Jawodimbari, Simet, Saunana, and Kavani.
The 45 volumes of PPP reflect the interests of its editors, Ulli Beier (vols. 1-25) and Prithvindra Chakravarti (vols. 26-45). Both men worked together from the beginning in the Department to encourage PNG poets and to broaden their knowledge of other poetic traditions. The first three volumes printed in London, for example, were Maori, Malay, and Yoruba texts. Beier followed these with Indonesian, Ibo, Bengali, and Biafran collections. But from the fifth volume to the twenty-fifth, the PPP series focused almost exclusively on PNG poetry, whether traditional or modern. Traditional poetry in PPP was usually presented in both original and translation. When the compiler was an islander, he also had translated the poems. When the compiler was an expatriate (e.g. Murray Russell, Don Laycock, Elton Brash, Nigel Krauth, Judith Ainsworth) the texts were either in the original or an islander had translated them. As a whole Chakravarti’s time with PPP featured not African, but Indian, poetry, in the first six volumes of his editorship. The rest of the series under Chakravarti was almost entirely Papua New Guinean.
The main difference between the editorships was that Chakravarti published mostly modern poetry (14 of the 17 PNG volumes). Beier published mostly traditional poetry (9 of the 12 PNG volumes). This disparity was likely due to the passage of time. By 1973, Chakravarti could concentrate on modern poetry because enough of it had been written by then. But, given the waning traditional content of Kovave by 1973, writers may simply have had other interests themselves. Under Beier, the only modern poets represented were Enos and Tawali. Two of the volumes under Beier were collections of original Pidgin poems; only one under Chakravarti was in Pidgin. Chakravarti’s editorship featured two collections of modern poetry and one collection of traditional. Of these collections, Modern Poetry from Papua New Guinea, 39 (1972), edited by Brash and Krauth, consisted of reprints from Kovave. The rest of the volumes were specific to individual ethnic groups. None of the collections of modern poetry was by a woman. The PPP collection remains the single most comprehensive source of printed verse from PNG, a testimony to the wealth of oral tradition and to the energy of its young writers.
Updated October 13 2016 by Library Services