AFTER the Crocodile Prize was established in 2011 and the closing date for entries passed, Phil Fitzpatrick and I got down to the judging.
There were 105 contributions from 40 writers to read and assess in three categories: short stories, poetry and essays.
As the judging progressed, Phil and I noticed that the women’s entries were relatively small in number and it seemed certain the first awards would be dominated by men.
So, at the last minute, we initiated an award for women’s writing and Dame Carol Kidu was gracious enough to lend her name to it.
It was the last time we had to offer a special award for women. From 2011 on, when it came to literature, the women of Papua New Guinea showed they were every bit as good and competitive as the men.
In 2014, we have received more than 600 entries from 130 writers, 46% of them female. We consider this a very satisfactory outcome.
Another issue Phil and I were concerned about was the extent to which the contest would attract engagement from throughout Papua New Guinea.
Well this year, while a number of provinces had just a few writers contributing to the national tally, all but one – West New Britain – are represented.
It was no surprise to find that Simbu topped the list, with 26% of entries coming from writers who identify with what is clearly a fertile and productive creative environment.
Simbu, as regular readers will knlow, this year became the first province to establish its own writers association.
In second and third positions for entries were the National Capital District (13%), with its large and generally well educated population, and Bougainville (9%), where Leonard Fong Roka has inspired a constellation of young and talented writers.
Here’s the full league table:
Where the entries came from 2014
13% National Capital District
8% Eastern Highlands, Morobe
5% East Sepik
4% Madang, Central, Western Highlands
3% Manus, Milne Bay, Oro
2% Hela, Enga, Jiwaka, Gulf
<1% Sandaun, New Ireland, East New Britain, Western, Southern Highlands
0 West New Britain