Friday, April 20, 2012

UPNG mourns passing of senior lecturer Dr Regis Stella

By KAIRU LAHO, UPNG Public Relations
On the eve of the launch of his latest book, Unfolding Petals: Readings in Modern PNG Literature, senior lecturer in Literature and English Communication at the University of Papua New Guinea, Dr Regis Stella passed away on Wednesday this week (April 18).

Dr Regis Stella
This book, his third, since his first novel Gutsini Posa (1999) and was set for launching today (Friday April 20) at the Waigani Campus.
Gutsini Posa in his local Banoni dialect means rough seas.
And this is how he and other PNG writers entered PNG’s literature scene.
His demise, however, was quite the opposite – quieter and most peaceful on the petals of his book.
Dr Stella was born in Bougainville.
He holds a PhD from the University of New South Wales and has been teaching at UPNG since he came on board as a teaching fellow in 1988.
According to his colleague and fellow writer Dr Steven Winduo, Dr Stella’s PhD thesis on re-emerging PNG through literary publications was one of the best ever written and had the rare opportunity to be converted to a book which is now a recommended text in universities.
He had been a deputy dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and formerly the director of the Melanesian Institute of Arts and Communications (MIAC).
DrWinduo, described him as reserved but an intelligent person and hard working.
He had two titles to his name, prior to his most recent book and edited three others.
Dr Winduo wrote of his first novel which was launched at the University of South Pacific… “My colleague Dr Regis Stella, first wrote the novel Gutsini Posa (1999) for the National Literature Competition.
"He won a prize that year.
" Since then he has re-worked the manuscript through a writer’s fellowship at the University of Iowa writing school.
"The novel is centred around the Bougainville crisis and the experiences of that conflict.
" Far from its existential value, Gutsini Posa is a novel that has two achievements: First, it is an important literary representation of the struggle of the Bougainville people to come to terms with the crisis that had completely devastated their moral and physical strength.
"Dr Stella represents precisely this experience by the use of a volcano metaphor, a force mightier and devastating to both the oppressed and the oppressor.
"The relationship between human’s ability to destroy themselves and yet can also be destroyed by a force greater, in the form of natural disasters, is an inevitable reality that Dr Stella impresses upon the reader in Gutsini Posa."
Second, despite the differences in the characters of the book, they all have ideological strengths, which keep them intact from fragmentation
Dr Stella’s voice is stunning, yet controlled and provocative.
Though a first novel for Dr. Stella, he secures a new place in the literary culture of PNG.
Late Dr Stella journeys back home next Wednesday to his final resting place.

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