By Hazel Kutkue
Photographs provided by Dominica Are
Poetry makes for beautiful literature. Sipikriva Girl, despite not entirely embracing poetry in its entirety in writing had the opportunity to speak to 34 year old writer, poet and fulltime accountant Dominica Are who recently had her poetry collection published. Hailing from the highlands of PNG, Dominica works full time with PNG Coffee Exports Ltd in Goroka as an accountant.
Growing up, 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, with her prose being mostly poetry and short stories. As in a lot of art, powerful emotions often are the triggers of works of great beauty. With her parents separation in 1998, she took to scribbing in her notebook about all the hurt, pain, hopes and wishes she was having.
“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 religiously makes daily journal entries and that was what formed the basis of her book. Apparently her book was in the pipeline for a quite a while.
“I keep a collection of all that I’ve written over the years. I have been keeping notebooks and newspaper cuttings of published work. When I got my first laptop at University, I started keeping e-copies.”
Initially Dominica wasn’t very keen on publishing. However her collection was a growing one.
“I was only writing for myself.”
“When I started seeing my entries published in the annual Crocodile Prize anthologies ( including 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 that I must do it! I started pulling out my work from here and there. Seeing that all my writings were all about my personal experiences I decided to have my first publication about it all.”
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 own 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 found courage enough to tell her story through poetry in the end however.
In early 2020 , Dominica contacted the late Francis Nii who helped edited and publish Prized Possessions – A collection of Poetry.
Dominica likes freestyle poetry best and believes it to be her strength.
She has also dabbed in the more technical styles poetry including ballad, sonnet, ode, rondeau, kyrielle, haiku, limerick and tanka.”
Prized Possessions is one hundred and sixteen pages long and contains ninety poems in total.
“I want my readers to be inspired to write their own story. 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 even be a helping hand for a reader who is downtrodden and lost.
Prized Possessions was published by Francis Nii Publications through CreateSpace. Francis Nii also played a part in editing the book. Working with Francis, Dominica described Francis as open and a straight shooter.
“I truly appreciate his honest critique on my work. There were few pieces whose meaning 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 it again.”
Francis emphasized that writers have to think of the average Papua new Guinean reader when trying to publish. At the time of publishing, Mr.Nii was sick, but pressed on in lending a hand to making 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 hardcopies. Dominica had to buy copies of her book and have them shipped to person in Australia etc who can then ship the books to PNG.
Dominica believes government support should be the way to go. “Support should be given through the initiation of writing competitions, reviving and building libraries, and supporting local authors in the purchasing and distribution of their books. 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 goes 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