As the 7th Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival (MACFEST) drew to a close, the “Haus Storian” also concluded with an echo of established as well as emerging voices from across the Melanesian countries, diaspora authors, and promoters and allies of Melanesia literature in different countries.

Three significant poetic events marked the conclusion of “Haus Storian” which for the first ever added a literary component to the 7th edition of MACFEST. The “Haus Storian” initiative was added to the MACFEST by several passionate literary advocates and organisations. Partners included the Government of Vanuatu, Alliance Francaise, Commonwealth Foundation, The Asia Foundation, Melanesian Women Today, Sista, and Nabanga Pikinini. The initiative was generously supported by the Government of Vanuatu, and the Commonwealth Foundation.

An evening of poetry recitations titled “Kava Literature” was held at Alliance Francaise, where authors from Melanesian countries presented their poems, stories, and collaborative works. The poets from Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Fiji, Solomon Islands and South Sea Islanders from Australia and authors based in New Zealand. Very powerful voices of poetry covered complicated emotional, social, and cultural topics in a creative way. Independence, freedom, climate change, feminism and social construction of the Melanesian sub-region were some of the common threads of the poetic pieces which were presented at the session. The poets of the session included Elsie Molou, Nancy Gaselona Palmer, Baka Bina, Waskam Emelda Davis, Rebecca Tobo Olul-Hossen, Donna Henry, Anna Naupa, Leina Isno, Léopold Hnacipan, Mikaela Nyman, Isa Qala, and others.

Another important event of poetry was a poetry slam mainly featuring emerging authors but also some established voices. Amongst poets who performed their works were Catherine Lessa, Telstar Jimmy, Busi Vasconcellos-Neill, and Ketty Napuat.

A day-long collaborative “Sisterhood Creed” resulted in contributions by over a dozen female writers to weaving together of a joint piece of poetry, which was recited by contributors and presented to the Director of Alliance Francaise Georges Cumbo for preservation and promotion as part of the MACFEST reporting. The Sisterhood Creed was coordinated and arranged by Melanesian Women Today and Sista Vanuatu. A glimpse of the “Sisterhood Creed” is represented below:

Weave what you want to be

It’s ok to evolve along the way

Respect your past as you weave your future

You are here today, and tomorrow is coming

Navigate your life with respect and humility

Be the Melanesia woman you want to be

Woman Melanesia, one solwara, a million lived lives

Thousands of languages and stories to share

Come sit on the ibe

Our hands weaving together, we weft each other up

Because of sisterhood, we now know, and we are better for it

Keep making spaces for us to sit together, woman Melanesia.

The “Haus Storian” Organising Committee included Anna Naupa, Georges Cumbo, and Rebecca Tobo Olul-Hossen, supported by two volunteers Foley Pfalzgraf and Niaz Nadeem. They agreed to work together to find the ways to further promote Melanesian literature through similar initiatives.