Book Review Part I : Nanu Sina: My Words

****So very grateful for having this review done***
A collection of sublime Melanesian verse from a poet of perception Caroline Evari – Nanu Sina

By KEITH JACKSON

Book Review

Nanu Sina: My Words, A Collection of Poems by Caroline Evari, paperback, 84 pages. JDT Publications, 2019, $3.75. ISBN-10: 1096713942. Available from Amazon here

Most of the poetry in this collection by Caroline Evari is pocket-sized, most of it has a big impact and all of it continues the wonderful tradition of demonstrating that much of the best writing from Papua New Guinea comes from its poets.

Phil Fitzpatrick and I have often remarked about the music that seems to occupy the soul of Melanesian writers and the openness of character that enables emotions to be on display rather than suppressed.

Both attributes lead to fine writing and are seen in ‘Nanu Sina’ ( ‘My Words’ in the Oro language) and they resonate through the poems in this overdue collection of the author’s thoughts, opinions, reactions and observations towards life, love, relationships, family, nature and events.

Caroline Evari, 30, was born in Vanimo but is of Musa (Oro) and Waema (Milne Bay) extraction. She is married with two children and studied computer science and mathematics at the University of Papua New Guinea.

Motivated to share her poetry through the Crocodile Prize national literary contest, Caroline says she is grateful that these awards, established in 2011, “gave an ordinary poet like me a voice and a platform”.

Caroline adds, “I like consider myself a student still growing wings under the literary prize”.

As this volume shows, those wings have learned to fly and the poems, organised into four categories – Conflicts, Relationships, Hope and Family, show great maturity as they wrestle with some of the complex issues that challenge Papua New Guineans today.

Caroline has written elsewhere (‘My Walk to Equality’, Pukpuk Publications, 2017) that “as women, we ask for permission to do a lot of things, but the first thing we need to do is to give ourselves the permission to be great…. Your mind is your greatest enemy, not the people around you.”

Her poetry is eminently accessible, as this extract from Corruption illustrates….

The change in humanity
The filth in bureaucracy
Stolen beauty
And captive wealth
Floats in the cloud of corruption

While, amidst the scorn of those who make life immensely difficult for the people of PNG, there is also apprehension as I Wonder shows….

I wonder why everything looks so perfect
Yet we get ourselves involved in fatal things
I wonder if people do learn from their mistakes
Every day we are climbing rugged hills
I wonder what will eventually happen
To me in the end
And sometimes I am afraid my heart will stop beating
Or I could end up walking down the wrong road

Anyone who has lived in Papua New Guinea, or even visited for more than a few days, will understand the importance of relationships and the emotional investment that is made in them, as is well articulated in Be Near Me Always….

When night falls and the place is quiet
Make me believe I am not alone
Creep up beside me in the darkness
That I may feel you’re right here
Crawl into my thoughts
In the silence of my sleep

And in A Mother’s Words To Her Child….

Come lie in my hands dear child
Let me rock you in the palm of my hands
Let me embrace you with the warmth of my chest
I will comfort you from all storms
I will protect you from all danger.

Caroline Evari has selected some wonderful poetry for her first collection. And she has found a conscientious publisher in Jordan Dean, one of two Papua New Guineans who offer this most worthwhile service to PNG authors (the other is Francis Nii).

We compliment Caroline on her achievement and look forward to more from her inner Thalia, the Greek muse of idyllic poetry.

 

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