A group of 30 women from Vanuatu have collaborated to publish the country’s first collection of contemporary creative writing by female authors.
The anthology, Sista Stanap Strong, is due to be released in this week.
Contributor Telstar Jimmy said creative writing empowered women in Vanuatu, allowing them to address issues like gender equality and feminism.
“Vanuatu is a very male dominated society of people. And growing up being a girl is not easy for most of us. Oftentimes we feel neglected, we feel suppressed, we feel that we always the second priority,” she said.
“But now I feel that we should be speaking up more for the women and girls in our society.”
Ms Jimmy said she used writing and poetry to process emotions and significant life events.
“I started writing when I was 15. My mother left us and my parents got separated. I was really not good about being outspoken about my feelings back then,” she said.
“The only way was to put it down on paper. And so the first time I wrote was for my mother, it was called ‘Wishing You Were Here.
“People were reading it. And they were like, ‘you have a knack for writing, you should write some words’. And I’ve been writing poetry ever since.”
Co-editor and contributor Rebecca Olul said the team overcame significant challenges to compile the book.
“(One) was of course, the lack of publishing industry in Vanuatu but we were not gonna let that stop us. We were keen to, to find ways and to collaborate to get this out.”
Sista is a charitable organization, based in Vanuatu, which is driven by feminist values. Sista aims to use arts, media and communications to empower women and girls, raise awareness and advocate on issues that affect them.
Established in April 2016, Sista has evolved during a significant time in history where women across the globe have been standing in solidarity with each other to challenge oppression and claim their rights.
Book Launch Details
Where: Vic Books, Kelburn
When: Tuesday 25th May
Time: 6:00 pm
Join us from 6:00pm to celebrate the launch of Sista, Stanap Strong!, an anthology of new writing from Vanuatu by three generations of women – and the first of its kind.
Copies of Sista, Stanap Strong! will be available for sale and there will be a chance to get signed copies from featured writers.
With poetry, fiction, essay, memoir, and song, its narrative arc stretches from the days of blackbirding to Independence in 1980 to Vanuatu’s coming of age in 2020. Most of these writers are ni-Vanuatu living in Vanuatu. Some have set down roots in New Zealand, Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Canada. Some were born overseas and have made Vanuatu their home. One is just twenty; another is an octogenarian.
The writers in this anthology have chosen to harness the coloniser’s language, English, for their own purposes. They are writing against racism, colonialism, misogyny and sexism. Writing across bloodlines and linguistic boundaries. Professing their love for ancestors, offspring and language – Bislama, vernacular and English.
What these writers also have in common is a sharp eye for detail, a love of words, a deep connection to Vanuatu, and a willingness to share a glimpse of their world.
Includes a foreword by Viran Molisa Trief.