Me, A Papua New Guinean Writer

: an interview with Darrel Lendon


Our end-of-the- week read is the third of our interviews in the return of #MeAPapuaNewGuineanWriter. Hibiscus Three is delighted to feature Darrel Lendon in this year's Series, focused on amplifying the talent and evolving work by creative writers of contemporary PNG.

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Hibiscus Three: Can you remember the moment you knew that you would pursue and share your creative writing with others?


Darrel Lendon: My friends read a lot of the stuff I write and they’re usually the first ones to pat me on the back and say ‘This is good; you should write more often.’ Their words of encouragement have been a driving force behind my pursuit for writing, and if it weren’t for their gentle remarks, I probably would’ve closed the lid early in my aspirations to become a writer. There are many names to mention but they know who they are.


This passion to write emerged in primary school when I was at Kopkop College. I’d buy a copy of The National newspaper at the Gerehu bus stop on my way to school every morning because I was in love with doing the crossword puzzle. This habit developed in grade 4 and carried on with me for the next four years. I’d come across new words every day, and to properly understand them, I’d construct some pointless fables to implement them in sentences and amend my vocabulary as well. Unfortunately, these stories never made it beyond my own pair of eyes to generate comments from outside.


It wasn’t until grade 10 when my Language & Literature teacher in Kopen Catholic Secondary School, Mrs. Tombiam commended my mock Written Expression short story in front of the whole class and read it aloud for everyone, while I sat there at the back with my head underneath the desk. Then and there, under the disguise of shyness, I realized my potential.


HT: What do you write about, and what are the common reactions you’ve had from readers?


DL: I write because I want to arrange my thoughts coherently and make myself feel light. I think many writers also experience that overwhelming sense of mental liberation when they’ve done cooking up a piece. I write about anything, from music to politics and general observations. But what I am more passionate about is creative writing and making each sentence play like rhythm in the reader’s mind. I’ve written only a few imaginative short stories and just recently have ventured into poems. I am fascinated by the natural world around me and have captured some of its essences in my writings. But when I am not writing short stories and poems: my pen, keyboard, and mind wander off to the affairs of the government and anything that does not fit my understanding. So, when I write about it, I get a fair understanding. Many of my readers have been captivated by my writing and have allowed us to share deeper conversations.


HT: What piece of writing of yours are you most proud of, and can you briefly outline its message and its significance to you?


DL: My short story titled 'My Name is Pita' is one that I am proud to have written.

Read My Name Is Pita by Darrel Lendon here


Firstly, it communicates how Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare created a mark in the country's history. The story is based on the theme 'Sana's Legacy for Unity.' Secondly, it brings to mind the legacy created by leaders after Sana, namely the legacy of Sir Peter Ipatas in establishing a modern-day Enga province. And thirdly, it won me 1st prize in the 2021 Unitech Independence Day writing competition so yes, I am proud of that too.


HT: If you had to sustain your creativity with only 3 books for the rest of your life, what would these books be?

DL:

1. The Holy Bible

2. The Power of the Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy

3. Golden Buddha by Clive Cussler and Craig Dirgo


HT: What is the one thing you can’t do without when going to write?

DL: A quiet spot. I cannot do without a quiet spot; whether it be in my dormitory room in Lae or the thick jungles of Wabag. I need a clear atmosphere to think and fish for thoughts.

It's a pattern also for me to reach for my headphones when I'm writing to listen to some classics and stimulate my brainwaves. Something like Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata would do.

HT: Encouraging a thriving literary culture of writers and readers in Papua New Guinea – what does this look like to you?


DL: Getting more children to read and encouraging them to write: Elementary and primary schools should establish more programs like writing competitions and book review speeches to bring out the talent and increase the aptitude of children as early as they can. It will sprout as a seed later on in their lives. If we could expose more children to books than smartphones, Papua New Guinea's literary culture would thrive. On that note, I would like to extend my gratitude to Hibiscus Three for creating this platform to attract and promote young Papua New Guinean readers and writers. This is a marvelous initiative and I am thrilled to be associated with Hibiscus Three.


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?


DL: Surely it would be to write a novel. And a series maybe, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. I write daily; in the morning, at night, at 4 am, and in my dreams, so it's sort of like a subconscious routine for me to keep on writing, and hopefully, I reach the word count of a novel in the near future.


As a Papua New Guinean, there are many things to write about. Our traditions are still fresh; many of our stories are not yet forgotten. Papua New Guinea has over 800 different languages, tribes, and traditions, and imagine if just one novel can be cultivated from this rich and diverse garden? I suppose one is not enough, and this rationale inspires me to keep my goal.


HT: Where can readers find your writing?


DL: I am active on Instagram @drzldn. I paste many of my writings there. Also, I have a blog where I share some of my writing as well, you can check it out on drelzlendon.blogspot.com

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