Poetry Help For PNG Writers

Hi writers of PNG. As a follow-up to the offer from friends of Crocodile Prize to assist poets with structure and rhyme, here is a poem that was sent in and edited. Crocodile Prize team wishes to thank Jimmy Awagl for giving his permission to let his poem be edited and publish. We hope this would assist you to see how you could improve your poetry and also encourage you to use this service to learn to write better.

Execise – working with structure and rhyme

The People of the Back Page – A poem by Jimmy Awagl


File image from Post Courier, Papua New Guinea

The People of the Back Page -Original Poem

Beyond the horizon
None think of your origin
You are stereotypes
In their own world view

More gullies and valleys
High hills and slopes
No one loves dwelling
In isolation from services

They call themselves front page
In a land of milk & honey
Accessing the infrastructure
Living a modern life style

Sometimes I visit their site
Walking in the early hours
Everyone fast asleep
I stand at their doorstep

They awake with sleepy eyes
And ask ‘How do you come?’
I answer, ‘I came in the morning’
‘But it is not yet dawn’

You know I live way back
I have to make it as early
as possible, to tell you it’s time
for the front page to wake up

I have walked many miles
Climbing mountains
Crossing gullies
Traversing rivers

Not in search of water
Not in search of a partner
Not in search of food
Not in search of firewood

But in search of basic needs
In search of basic wants
In search of basic goods
In search of basic services

I do not have access
to such things on the front page
So I am called a back page
A stereotype of your world view

The People of the Back Page. Edited version

On the front page of our fateful land,
The elite all live a lifestyle grand,
With all mod-cons at their command,
And all a front page would demand.
But I live a life of different style,
In mountain vastness, mile on mile,
Of plunging ravines, swamps and reeds,
And a constant search for basic needs.
No health-care, schools or roads out here,
Only neglect by Government year by year,
And even when I go to town,
I see squatters’ shacks and sites run-down,
Parks un-mowed for weeks and weeks,
And filthy streets where garbage reeks,
Poverty, misery, hungry cries,
Amid wealth and progress, tall high-rise.
The world sees only our front page,
Not the other side to our heritage.
A wake-up call to all who care,
Our natural wealth is for all to share,
So let’s erase now at this stage,
Our disgraceful, cruel and sad back page.


  1. Mr Mackeller’s reworking of the poem is certainly polished, with the couplet rhyming sequence, the expanded diction and subtleties of alliteration, consonance (‘eLite, Live a LifestyLe’) and assonance (wEEks and wEEks…strEEts…rEEks). There are more techniques at work.

    Then again I really enjoyed the rawness of Jimmy’s original – it’s uncut, like the ragged limestone cliffs of Yoba Kogul – and speaks with an earthy simplicity that is a unique PNG voice.

    “You know I live way back
    I have to make it as early
    as possible, to tell you it’s time
    for the front page to wake up”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay…am no Poet…
    But a Poem comes from a person’s own personal feelings.
    Edition? Not necessary….
    That’s how I see it…
    I read the edited version…too refined!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marlene, thank you very much for your comments and being part of this educational process to assist PNG poets. The editing process is only done at the choice of the poet/writer. It could be looked at as another approach to the topic or another style with a formal structural approach; that’s also why Chips offered his services. If you like the unedited version, then that’s your preference and it is good too. However, if the poet wants Chips to have a go at adding structure, it is their choice. I guess everyone is different. Those who want to have their poetry edited by Chips – send them in.


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