“Every crater, hole, crevice, river…EVERTHING in the village has a story about how it came to be. I heard stories from my matrilineal grandmother who was from Eastern Highlands Province and my patrilineal grandfather, who was from Buin, South Bougainville. My grandmother’s stories were about our ancestors who came from the Solomon Islands. Tambuna stories were shared in front of bonfires every evening and often continued onto the next night. My passion for storytelling came from living a life where storytelling was part of our daily activity” – Marlene Dee Gray Potoura
A writer from Papua New Guinea, Bougainville Island, Marlene this week volunteered and joined the Crocodile Working Committee 2016. The Crocodile Committee 2016 Acting Chairperson Joycelin Leahy welcomed Marlene.
“Marlene is a serious writer and very passionate person about her craft, her stories and her heritage. Her skills and expertise as an educator would also tremendously assist this committee,” Ms Leahy said.
The Crocodile Blog speaks to Marlene about her passion for writing.
“My passion for writing stems from my love for words and sentences. Verbally, I am a great storyteller also. Commonwealth Writers Blog will be publishing a special feature on my personal experience in Bougainville in June, as titled ‘Fugitives.’
I am also writing a Bougainville Memoir as the memories that are imbed in my mind keeps sprouting like fresh flowers. I am a child of the 70s. I didn’t grow up watching TV, playing video games or spent time on cell phones. I sat beside village bonfires and listened to stories from my aunties, uncles and grandparents. Tambuna stories were shared in front of bonfires every evening and often continued on to the next night. My passion for storytelling came from living a life where storytelling was part of our daily activity.
I did written compositions with biros and did the morning talk standing in front of the class, trying my best to speak English among many other PNG dialects I was fluent in. I ritually sang hymns in our village church mornings and evenings; with these lungs, I blew the fire to cook and these hands, I chopped firewood and dug kaukaus to help feed my family.
I was shipped off to Kambubu high school on the outskirts between Pomio and Kokopo, to total isolation. I ate tapioca for lunch and dinner and worked in the farms where my fingers got blistered from pulling out karapa weeds. I was disciplined in Pathfinder Groups, marching in the scorching tropical sun which gave me a permanent double tan. Despite this way of growing up, I am thankful for my upbringing. It was a living story that has added depth to who I am and how I relate to what I write now.
My carefree days from childhood to high school composed of stories, dreams, happiness and freedom. My creativity and imagination was well and truly sown and cultivated from my childhood. I cannot live without storytelling and so when I was choosing a career – I had to choose one that would developed and enhance my passion. Being a teacher is a blessing in disguise and it provides the ultimate platform for teaching, listening, writing and reading stories.
Marlene holds a Bachelor in Education and runs a private school for young children, age 4 to 12 in Lae, Morobe Province.
She writes short stories and children’s stories. Most of Marlene’s stories have been published online on THE PNG ATTITUDE BLOG and in The Crocodile Prize Anthologies 2014 and 2015. Her book of 21 short stories was published in August last year, by PukPuk Publishing.
In the next post, Marlene will share a Tumbuna Stori.
“How flying foxes got their long intestines,’ is a favourite Tumbuna story told to me by my grandmother, Roandi Kauva. Her village was Nonambaro in Watabung, Eastern Highlands Province. (The Tumbuna Story will be posted in the next post)