: an interview with Pearl Walters
Bringing us into the weekend, we share an inspiring conversation had with emerging Papua New Guinean writer, Pearl Walters.
Hibiscus Three: Can you remember the moment you knew that you would pursue and share your creative writing with others?
Pearl Walters: discovered my love for writing at a young age. In eighth grade, I was awarded a literary award for my narrative short story. As I progressed into High School my teachers encouraged me to write more. I started my first blog in 2014 but the challenge of not having a niche to focus my writing around was discouraging. I did not pursue it seriously until last year. The Pandemic had me stuck at home for weeks and with sufficient time on my hands I picked up the pen and wrote again, but this time more intentionally. My first article generated a response that I was not expecting. Many people were eager to read what I had written and it was at that moment that I knew I wanted to seriously pursue this love for creative writing with others.
HT: What do you write about, and what are the common reactions you’ve had from readers?
PW: My blog slogan is “passions in prose” which basically encapsulates the pieces of writing I publish. I write on areas I share a passion in which are Pacific Island and Papua New Guinean centered. I write educational commentary relating modern themes to traditional Melanesian culture and aim to bring fresh insights to various cultural, political, psychological and societal issues we face mainly based off my areas of study, and general life experiences.
I aim to draw a contrast between the western world and our traditional Melanesian society. I like to think my writing voice is that of the middleman, bringing together life in two very different worlds as well as a bridging a generational gap. This middleman approach did spark interest, as I was able to voice the emotions of many people who had similar shared experiences, even from people around the world.
HT: What piece of writing of yours are you most proud of, and can you briefly outline its message and its significance to you?
PW: My blog is fairly new so I have not written as much yet. My first article on the blog was one that drew and grew the interest in my writing. It’s titled “Decolonization in Melanesia – PNG is not Australia”. The underlying message of this particular article was to provoke people to think critically about colonization and its generational impacts on a personal level. I wrote about my personal experiences with living abroad and wanting to remain true to this unique Melanesian heritage I possess. I wanted my target audience (particularly Papua New Guineans and Melanesians) to be comfortable in thinking outside of a fixed mindset that we have been fashioned into by our colonizers. This article received more attention than I expected. Judging from the response it generated, it was evident that the underlying message I was trying to convey resonated with my audience. As a writer that’s your main goal, to be understood by your readers and when that’s accomplished that’s something to be proud of.
HT: If you had to sustain your creativity with only 3 books for the rest of your life, what would these books be?
PW: The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien - I read this book in year eight and it sparked the creativity behind my award winning narrative short story which led to me writing more.
The Melanesian Way by Bernard Narokobi – A must read for any Melanesian. This book and the author is my muse.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – I love incorporating history and modernity into my writing and this author does so skillfully by integrating his area of expertise in a creative plot-twisting tale.
HT: What is the one thing you can’t do without when going to write?
PW: My sticky notes are colored notes of inspiration to my writing. I have them plastered on my room wall, mirror, laptop, desktop and in books I currently read. When things come to my mind I quickly jot them down on my sticky notes and refer back to them when need be.
HT: Encouraging a thriving literary culture of writers and readers in Papua New Guinea – what does this look like to you?
PW: I believe to have a thriving literary culture of writers and readers in PNG it is essential to lay a foundation to quality education. Implementing strategies to better foster access to education in rural areas needs to be a priority. We cannot have a thriving literary society if we have illiterate people. Education brings knowledge, with knowledge comes awareness that gives rise to a curiosity to learn. We can devise strategies to make education in urban centers better since the foundations are already in place. Continuous work on education needs to be done from the grassroots level up. I commend some NGO’s and government organizations that are already doing that. The government should partner and work closely with these organizations to improve quality education all across the country. Once that is established, I believe writers will find their place in the system.
HT: What is the one thing you haven’t written yet that you’d like to eventually get to, and what inspires you to keep this as a goal?
PW: Being new to the writing scene in PNG I definitely intend to write more starting with adding focus articles to the Decolonization series. I want to introduce other series on the themes of life in PNG upon areas outlined in my answer to question too. Reasons that inspire me to keep at this goal include reading works by published PNG authors, the need to amplify PNG and Melanesian voices in literature in the region and the heartfelt responses I get from people that read my work. A mother once wrote to me saying she reads my work to her children and that was personally so motivating for me to have a hand in shaping young minds.
HT: Where can readers find your writing?
My blog is linked here: https://pacificpearlco.wixsite.com/mysite
Listed are my blog social media handles:
Instagram – @pacificpearlco // https://www.instagram.com/pacificpearlco/
FB Page: Pacific Pearl // https://www.facebook.com/pacificpearlco
Twitter: Pearl Walters // https://twitter.com/pearlwltrs1610
Thank you Pearl for sharing insight to your development as a Papua New Guinean writer and blogger. We truly appreciate the incredible support Pearl has shown for Hibiscus Three, and our published Authors - HT
Follow and tag @hibiscus.three using #MeAPapuaNewGuineanWriter on Instagram if you have a blog or writing you would like us to read