Steamships Prize for Short Stories - Charlotte Vada
PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers Prize for Poetry - Michael Dom
PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum Prize for Essays & Journalism - Emma Wakpi
Cleland Family Prize for Heritage Literature - Lorraine Basse
Ex PNG Chalkies' Yokomo Prize for Student Writing -Angeline Low
Ok Tedi Mining Prize for Women's Literature - Imelda Yabara
British American Tobacco (PNG) Prize for Lifetime Contribution to Literature - Russell Soaba
Prize winners who were not at the awards can collect their prizes at the Australian High Commission or contact Ruth Moiam at the AHC to send your prize money and trophy to you - KJ
THIS YEAR THERE WERE NEARLY 600 ENTRIES in the Crocodile Prize national literary competition, all vying for 10 prizes on offer in seven categories.
Among the entries there were many accomplished and well written pieces of creative writing. This made the judges’ task most difficult but they put their minds to it and have come up with the prize winners.
Commenting on this story one of the judges said, “It’s assured, with a strong narrative arc, a good build-up of tension, well resolved and surprisingly so, with the return to the fan. Very neat indeed.
“I also liked the balance of points of view between the two boys, and I found both of them very believable. Good dialogue, I liked her confidence in using tok pisin without feeling the need to translate.
“Charlotte’s prose style is confident, economical and relaxed. A very accomplished piece of work by a writer in control of her craft”.
This poem has a number of outstanding aspects. Firstly, it successfully conveys both the traditional and contemporary in Papua New Guinea. Secondly it is technically accomplished; the sonnet is an old but not easily mastered poetic form, but Michael has not only achieved mastery but has given it a distinctly Papua New Guinean flavour.
Finally, the poem comes from a body of submitted work which is singularly outstanding, particularly for its mix of innovative, quirky and traditional styles.
Michael is on assignment in Honiara and was represented at the awards ceremony by his mother, Ruth Maldoa Dom, and niece, Illeana Maldoa II Dom. Michael has dedicated his first collection of poems to both of them.
Emma demonstrated an easy-to-read and incisive style in this essay and in her other entries as well as a positive and encouraging outlook, something that Papua New Guinea really needs at the moment.
Her work stands in stark contrast to entries which dwell so much on the negative aspects of Papua New Guinean society or are written in a deliberately provocative manner.
Provocation, as distinct from sensationalism, has a place in journalism but it does not work so well when it overwhelms its subject matter. Emma’s essay is also refreshingly free of any technical obfuscation.
The winner of the Cleland Family Prize for Heritage Literature is Lorraine Basse for her story Barasi - The Manam Way.
The judges had a difficult time with this category because so many entries offered a mix of heritage, history and modern themes.
In contrast, Lorraine’s entry is a well researched and readable account of an age-old tradition which has survived, largely intact, the perilous journey into modern times.
It is differentiated from many of the other entries by resonating with factual authority, not least because of its rendering of traditional song. The piece also highlights the place of women in tradition, something that is often overlooked in favour of men.
The winner of the Ex PNG Chalkies' Yokomo Prize for Student Writing is Angeline Low for her short story Going through the Unimaginable.
The story is outstanding for several reasons. Firstly, the subject matter is extremely sensitive and one which would test the talents of someone much older than Angeline’s 16 years.
It also has a ring of authenticity which is helped tremendously by Angeline’s confident control of dialogue and narrative as the tension builds up to its shocking culmination.
Lastly it is a bold attempt to expose an element of society that is often shamefully hidden.
One of the judges said the story “is a reflection of the social conscience, not only of what happens in PNG but all around the world”.
One of the major sponsors, and a judge of the Yokomo Prize, made the following observation: “Given the breast beating about the decline of educational standards, the quality of the English language expression was rather good, better than I'd expected … and comforting”.
With this in mind and a desire to encourage young writers in PNG a late decision was made to extend the award to three runners-up in the student category. The three winners in the AustAsia Pacific Health Services Encouragement Awards for Student Writers are Axel Rice, Jeremiah Toni and Kayla Reimann.
Space does not permit a detailed account of these writer’s work suffice to say that Axel impressed the judges with his choice of ‘adventure’ genre and journalistic flavour, Jeremiah with his surprising poetic imagery and Kayla for her maturity and breadth of subject matter.
As readers will see, this year’s winners are dominated by women writers. This made the choice in the Ok Tedi Mining Prize for Women's Literature (Dame Carol Kidu Award) extra difficult but the judges agreed the winner is Imelda Yabara for her short story, My Name is Sandy and her poems In Bed with Me and Way Out of Reach.
In making this judgement particular attention was made to the relevance of the subject matter to women and, of course, excellence in writing. Imelda had impressed the judges in 2011 and they were further impressed by how her work has maintained a consistently high standard into 2012.
The final award in the competition and perhaps the easiest to judge is the British American Tobacco (PNG) Prize for Lifetime Contribution to Literature (Sir Paulias Matane Award).
The judges had no hesitation in agreeing that the award should go to Russell Soaba. Russell was there at the beginning with Vincent Eri and the other founders of the modern PNG literary movement and he is still advancing the cause of Papua New Guinea literature.
Along the way he has produced an impressive list of publications, including the novels Wanpis (1977) and Maiba (1985), the poetry collections Naked Thoughts: Poems and Illustrations (1978), Ondobondo Poster Poems (1979) and Kwamra, A Season of Harvest: Poems (2000).
His newspaper column Soaba’s Storyboard has given many new Papua New Guinean writers their first taste of published success. His courses at UPNG are legendary and people line up to get into them.
Steven Winduo, himself a great writer, says of Russell: “He is the portrait of the odd man out, an individual, and a great thinker.
“Russell Soaba is also one of the greatest, if not the greatest, writer in Papua New Guinea. His works, particularly novels Maiba and Wanpis, are studied in universities around the world by students of literature and philosophy.
Russell was born in Tototo, Milne Bay in 1950. He was educated in Papua New Guinea, Australia and at Brown University, Rhode Island. He currently teaches at the University of Papua New Guinea and works as an editor for a local publisher. He has been a strong supporter of the Crocodile Prize since its inception.