John Kasaipwalova was born in Okaikoda, on Kiriwina Island in the Trobriand Islands, into the Kwenama clan; his uncle was a chief. He earned a Commonwealth scholarship and attended the University of Queensland, where he became active in radical politics and eventually lost his scholarship and visa. He then attended the University of Papua New Guinea, where he took part in decolonization movements and protests. Radical politics and political movements have exerted a significant influence on Kasaipwalova’s literary output, and his work often denounces racism and colonialism.
One of Papua New Guinea’s most noted poets and playwrights, Kasaipwalova synthesizes English and South Pacific variants such as Tok Pisin (Pidgin) in his work. He is the author of the poetry collections Reluctant Flame (1971) and Hanuabada (1972). In 1972, Kasaipwalova returned to the Trobriand Islands to take part in self-determination efforts there. His unfinished novel Bomana Kalabus O Sori O was excerpted in the anthology Voices of Independence (1980). He coauthored the folk play Sail the Midnight Sun (1980) with Greg Murphy and collaborated with Jutta Malnic on the volume Kula: Myth and Magic in the Trobriand Islands (1998).