BY KEITH JACKSON
The current 2012 Crocodile Prize literary contest is a much more elaborate project than in 2011. There are more categories in which prizes are awarded and, at K5,000 each, the prizes are substantially more attractive.
We know writers don’t need money to motivate their creative process (although it helps), but it’s a nice reward for a great idea that transforms into a wonderful piece of prose or poetry.
The first important thing you need to know about The Crocodile Prize is that you must be a Papua New Guinean citizen to enter.
And the second is that your entries must be submitted by Thursday 31 May 2012. (After judging and the production of an anthology of the best PNG writing in 2012, the winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Port Moresby on Friday 14 September).
You will also need to send in an official entry form with your first entry – you can download it here.
Now for a brief description of each of the seven awards on offer.
STEAMSHIPS PRIZE FOR SHORT STORIES – K5,000
We’d like writers to submit around 1,500 words on a fictional theme of interest to a general readership. As with the other categories, we won’t penalise longer entries but we’d rather 300 beautifully crafted words than 3,000 going nowhere very much.
PRIZE FOR POETRY – K5,000
The guideline here is for about 300 words on a theme of interest to a general readership. In practice, you can submit on any theme or subject of your choosing. (Naming rights for this award are still available: contact me here.)
PNG CHAMBER OF MINES AND PETROLEUM PRIZE FOR ESSAYS & JOURNALISM – K5,000
Around 1,000 words on a theme of current interest to a general readership. Contributions may range from essays on subjects of national cultural or policy importance to articles about people, places or on other factual themes.
CLELAND PRIZE FOR HERITAGE LITERATURE – K5,000
A story or article of about 1,500 words on a theme that delves into traditional customs, beliefs and stories, and discovers and promotes Papua New Guinea's cultural heritage. This award is sponsored by Bob Cleland (who was a kiap from 1953-76) and honours the names and contributions to PNG of Sir Donald Cleland (Administrator 1951-66) and Dame Rachel Cleland (friend and supporter of PNG and its culture 1951-79).
CHALKIES’ YOKOMO PRIZE FOR STUDENT WRITING – K5,000
Not more than 500 words on a theme of interest to a general readership. The award was initiated by former editor of the PNG School Paper, Ed Brumby, and is supported by expatriate teachers who served in PNG. Students who are at primary or high school in 2012 are eligible to enter.
OK TEDI MINING PRIZE FOR WOMEN’S LITERATURE – K5,000
To be awarded from the judges’ consideration of all entries from female writers. No special applications are required, the judges will select the winner from all the entries received.
BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO (PNG) PRIZE FOR LIFETIME LITERARY ACHIEVEMENT – K5,000
To be awarded by the judges after consideration of the contributions to national literature that PNG’s leading writers have made down the years. No nominations are required.
Over the coming months we'll be publishing as many entries as we can in PNG Attitude and in The Review magazine (and from early next year on the Prize’s dedicated website). But to be published in The Crocodile Prize Anthology 2012, as the best entries will be, well, that’s something very special to every writer.
We plan to print 10,000 copies of next year's anthology (budget willing) - a huge publishing effort. This will link the top Papua New Guinean writers with a large audience of Papua New Guinean readers.
We will also be staging AustAsia Pacific Writers' Forums for the best emerging writers. These will be held in Port Moresby and, we hope (again subject to budget), Goroka and Madang.
Being able to read literature from your own country should be the right of every citizen. A homegrown literature can certainly make a huge contribution to national culture, identity and understanding. The Crocodile Prize is all about developing an sustainable national written literature in Papua New Guinea.
You can be part of that.