: an interview with Renee Manus
It is fantastic to see that the return of the #MeAPapuaNewGuineanWriter Series has been received with much encouragement from the Hibiscus Three community and other readers. Thank you! We're pleased to share the conversation we had with the next featured Papua New Guinean Writer, Renee Manus.
Hibiscus Three: Can you remember the moment you knew that you would pursue and share your creative writing with others?
Renee Manus: I discovered my love for poetry writing when I was in high school. Between my study notes I remember scribbling words here and there of free verses that I rhymed in my head.
One of the first times I actually wrote a poem to share in front of an audience was for a year 11 L&L project. It was a romantic poem based on the 1908 English Novel A Room with a View written by E.M.Forster. The experience was daunting, yet exhilarating and the positive responses that I received not only from this poem, but also a few others, bolstered my interest in pursuing poetry writing outside of academic work and sharing my words with others.
HT: What do you write about, and what are the common reactions you’ve had from readers?
RM: I base my writings on human experiences and emotions, some personal while others of those around me. I like my writings to embody authenticity and purpose so that people can read and feel a connection and an understanding with what they are reading, and most often that is the response that I get.
Many of my writings are also a reflection of my Christian faith. I find my creativity is at its peak when I am closest to God. Especially in times when I am faced with a difficult situation, I turn to writing as a way to communicate my feelings to Him. Some poems I have written in this category are It Is Finished, My Promise to You and Why I Stand Tall.
Few of my poems have also been focused on advocating against gender based violence. As a woman, I feel the pain of this and I hope to write more of such advocacy poems as we all are responsible to speak up and bring change to society in our own little ways.
HT: What piece of writing of yours are you most proud of, and can you briefly outline its message and its significance to you?
RM: I am proud of all my writings, as they each have importance and a story behind them. But the poem that I’d like to highlight here is titled Mama’s Silent Cry. This poem was written in dedication to my mother during mother’s day a few years back. It’s a poem of a mother’s prayer for her children and it is greatly significant to me because I am a product of my mother’s ‘Silent Cries’.
And I agree with Abraham Lincoln’s words “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”
HT: If you had to sustain your creativity with only three books for the rest of your life, what would these books be?
- The Bible
- The Book of Psalms
- The Purpose Driven Life
HT: What is the one thing that you can’t do without when going to write?
RM: I can never do without a cup of coffee. Having a cup of coffee near me is a necessity because most times when I write it’s usually late at night or in the early hours of the morning.
HT: Encouraging a thriving literacy culture of writers and readers in Papua New Guinea - what does this look like to you?
RM: Now is the most important time more than ever for us young Papua New Guineans to encourage the art of reading and writing. Not only so we pass our exams but most importantly so we preserve our culture and traditions. Many of us are literate in English but not literate in our ‘tok ples’ and that is why this is important.
I commend Hibiscus Three for providing a platform for Papua New Guinean woman writers to speak up and showcase their writing talents. It is through such initiatives that a literacy culture will thrive. And I believe that we are heading towards the right direction in arousing the interests of many more hidden talents out there to delve deeper into reading and writing and to flourish in this area.
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?
RM: Writing a poetry anthology is a goal that I have set my eyes on. I’ve set this as a goal because I want to write to encourage people, to help people grow in their faith and to be more aware of our beautiful traditions and cultures. If we are able to study English and American literature why can’t we be able to also have written literature of our own? The emergence of written literature in PNG is comparatively recent than oral literature and there are thousands of things that one can write on. That excites me and gives me the inspiration to stick to this pursuit.
HT: Where can readers find your writing?
RM: Readers can follow my writing on Instagram where my account name is caffeine_muser.
They can also follow my writing blog on BlogSpot @ caffeinemuser.blogspot.com .