Festival to celebrate best books by Pacific authors

First Nations Writers

By RNZ Pacific

A charitable organisation in Australia is on a mission to promote the work of indigenous writers from the Pacific.

The founder of First Nations Writers, Anna Borzi, has travelled to four Pacific countries in search of the region’s hidden talent.

Borzi is an award-winning writer and a international investment banker who worked closely with First Nation cultures and has indigenous Australian heritage.

She plans to invite Pasifika writers to the First Nations Writers festival in Townsville, Queensland to speak about their books and ideas.

The group is planning to host its second festival in May and will feature contemporary writers from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea and Australia.

It will award 10 winners with US$3,400 each.

Anna Borzi said her motivation to expand to the Pacific is to get important stories that need to be told out into the world.

“I think they are not being rewarded for the work they put in, they are not getting the public recognition. These are the sort of things we want to bring and put on the table to get the global recognition for what are magnificent stories.

“All my life I’ve read but I couldn’t find books from the Pacific. The Pacific has got the best books in the world, with a rich cultural diversity and if I’m missing those stories I think other people are too.”

With a crew of volunteers she travelled to villages, universities, libraries and bookshops as well as markets to meet grassroot writers across Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

The organisation hopes to travel to all the countries at some point and potentially organise small writing festivals leaving a chance to reach the most isolated writers in the region.

“There’s nothing like having a whole lot of other people who have the same ideas and frustrations and joys that you get out of writing all coming together in one place. “So we want to be able to do that, which is why the directors are considering taking it to different countries over the next few years,” she said.

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