A week-long series of exciting literary events under the title of “Haus Storian” commenced in Port Vila on Monday, as part of the 7th Melanesia Arts and Culture Festival (MACFEST).

The inaugural event of the “Haus Storian” was a workshop on Short Story Writing with award-winning author and poet Mikaela Nyman at Alliance Francaise. A number of aspiring writers as well as some established writers attended the workshop.

Nyman, who has joined the festival from New Zealand was scheduled to conduct another workshop on Micro and Flash Fiction yesterday morning at Alliance Francaise.

As the co-editor of “Sista, Stanap Strong! A Vanuatu Women’s Anthology”, Nyman has been invited as an ally and supporter of the Vanuatu literary scene and Melanesian literature.

In her opening workshop Nyman said the books serve to entertain and inspire, but they can also shine a light on things, challenge, and shape conversations.

“Stories can be windows into other worlds or mirrors. Sometimes they can be a bit of both. We all deserve to see ourselves and our realities reflected in stories, and it’s essential for our children. Hence it is wonderful to see so many Melanesian writers here, the response to the writing workshops has been amazing. I can’t wait to see a wave of new writing from Melanesia in print and online in the near future,” she said.

The inaugural workshop will be followed by a plethora of literary events added to the festival for the first time. Melanesian writers, poets, storytellers and artists have arrived in Port Vila to from Papua New Guinea, West Papua, Solomon Island, New Caledonia and diaspora authors from New Zealand and Australia.

An exciting range of week-long events of the “Haus Storian” will culminate on 28 July 2023 in Port Vila.

On Tuesday, a high school debate Competition was also expected to be organised by one of the “Haus Storian” organisers, Nabanga Pikinini at Alliance Francaise, followed by participation of the writers in the opening MACFEST Symposium at National University of Vanuatu.

Writers of the festival will get an opportunity to visit different schools and engage with students through their readings today, Wednesday 26 July. On the same day at 6pm a multilingual “Kava Literature” session will be held with writers to read their pieces in different languages from across the Melanesian region.

On the morning of 27 July, a BookLab on Melanesian voices in storytelling and visual arts will be organised by the Asia Foundation at Alliance Francaise followed by an afternoon session of storytelling in different Melanesian languages.

The closing of the “Haus Storian” will be marked as the “Sisterhood Creed” organised by Sista and Melanesian Women Today at the Alliance Francaise. The event will be a celebration of Melanesian Spirit by leading feminist writers. This will be followed by a Poetry Slam/Open Mic event to provide voice to different authors of a variety of literary genres.

The featured writers and poets taking part in the “Haus Storian” include Baka Bina (Papua New Guinea), Waskam Emelda Davis (Australian South Sea Islander), Ketty Dan-Napwatt (Vanuatu), Nancy Gaselona Palmer (Solomon Island), Esther Haluk (West Papua), Léopold Hnacipan (New Caledonia), Leina Isno (Vanuatu), Dame Carol Kidu (Australia/PNG), Anna Naupa (Vanuatu), Mikaela Nyman (Finland and New Zealand), Rebecca Tobo Olul Hossen (Vanuatu), Isa Qala (New Caledonia), Mere Sovick (Vanuatu) and others.

The “Haus Storian” is the first ever literary component of the MACFEST, added by a number of passionate literary advocates and organisations.