IN August we announced the seven Crocodile Prize winners for 2014 (the awards event will be held in Port Moresby in a fortnight’s time) and received a great deal of positive feedback from readers.
PNG Attitude and the Crocodile Prize are linked inexorably because it was the existence of the blog as an outlet for issue-oriented and creative writing that triggered the idea to establish a literary award.
Now in its fourth year, the Prize would not exist without its sponsors who both underwrite the cash awards given to winners and the production of the annual Anthology, which this year tops 500 pages and is a great credit to its editor, Phil Fitzpatrick.
At the time of going to press, the Crocodile Prize Organising Group, COG, had distributed nearly 800 anthologies throughout Papua New Guinea, and PNG Attitude had begun an appeal asking readers to support this project.
If you can spare a few dollars, you can help provide the people of PNG with access to their own literature. A noble cause. Check out how to do this here.
The story that most attracted readers’ attention in August was the death of much loved broadcaster Phil Charley at the age of 89. Phil’s decade in Papua New Guinea was marked by a number of significant achievements and the making of some great and enduring friendships.
That PNG and Australia enjoy a special relationship is due in large part, on the Australian side, to people like Phil Charley.
Phil was a very close mate of mine, and I miss him.
So, now to the writing that most galvanised readers during the course of the last month….
TOP 10 MOST COMMENTED UPON ARTICLES
23 comments - Phil Charley OAM, PNG commercial radio pioneer, dies at 89 (Keith Jackson). Phil's career in radio began during the last years of World War II, after he was boarded out of the Royal Australian Air Force with a medical condition. This life's work continued for 65 years. Phil and I worked together in PNG and throughout south-east Asia and the Pacific. We even wrote a book together. Of such relationships is a satisfactory life constructed.
18 comments - 21st century so very far away: PNG’s tragedy of remoteness (George Kuias). George related the harrowing first person story of how a young man died of asthma while being transported to hospital by canoe because a health centre had run out of oxygen, hydrocortisone and salbutamoland the foot pump for nebulising patients was malfunctioning. This is the real cost of corruption and inefficiency in PNG – the lives of its people.
16 comments - Iriani Wanma wins Buk bilong Pikinini Award for Children’s Writing (Keith Jackson). The first award for children’s writing in the Crocodile Prize was won by the daughter of parents from Kairuku in Central Province and West Papua. Iriana is a 25-year old graduate, currently job hunting and living in Brisbane with her family. Iriani described her tale, Oa Grasshopper and Kaipa Caterpillar, which she also illustrated, as “an educational story about friendship and transformation.”
16 comments - On the road: A Simbu man’s lone quest for the unknown crocodile (Jimmy Awagl). Jimmy penned a fascinating coming of age story with a mystical and enigmatic ending that had readers competing with each other for explanations. Jimmy wouldn’t shed any light on this, telling us to await the sequel.
15 comments - Ok Tedi Mining Book of the Year: Brokenville by Leonard Fong Roka (Keith Jackson). It might be said that a nation’s literature has matured when its authors are producing enough books to provide competition for a Book of the Year. Well, this was PNG’s first and the prolific 35-year old Bougainvillean writer took out the prize for his civil war memoir, Brokenville. “I salute Ok Tedi Mining and its endeavours in this politically sick PNG climate to aim high for the ordinary people since the greatest thing is for us all to serve humanity in our own ways,” the straight-talking man they call ‘Captain Bougainville’ told me.
14 comments - Crocodile Prize: Sil Bolkin wins Chamber of Mines Essay Award (Keith Jackson). Sil consistently produces the goods whenever he sits down to write.Taking his subject matter from everyday life, he offers keen insights into PNG society and always comes up with stories that are gutsy and newsworthy. Sil’s work has been published in all four annual Anthologies of the best PNG writing and, for the first time, this year he added the Crocodile Prize to his portfolio.
13 comments - Rude sisters of the delivery theatre – mothers must have dignity (Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin). Sil’s exposé of nurses who harass and bully women in labour was an eye-opener. Here in a society where half the women live with the omnipresent threat of domestic violence, they are also copping it from people who have a professional duty of care and who should know better.
13 comments - Cleland Family Award for Heritage Writing won by Arnold Mundua (Keith Jackson). Arnold is 50 and works in the Simbu capital, Kundiawa, not far from Gembogl where he was born, in the important role of provincial forest officer. He started writing in 1998, eventually having his novel, A Bride's Price, publishedin 2003. His article on Simbu birthing rituals, now receding into history, was a worthy winner of the heritage award and brings his writing to national prominence.
11 comments - Holmes & the incredible mystery of the dinosaur of Mt Wilhem (Peter Kranz). Peter is still disclosing hitherto untold tales of Sherlock Holmes’ and Dr Watson’s PNG exploits. This time the evil Moriarty’s dinosaurs had more than a passing resemblance to particularly venal politicians. Or was that all in the beholder’s eye?
10 comments - Why can’t we all live peacefully? (John Kaupa Kamasua). John’s father died after being violently attacked in August 2012. After the immediate grief passed, John had to wrestle with the desire for revenge and retribution against the men who were responsible for the atrocity. That John did not succumb to these urges took him on a personal journey after which hediscovered that his life had changed forever.
10 comments - Helping outside the spotlight: the AFP mission in PNG (David Connery). The Australian Strategic Policy Institute is increasingly commenting on PNG affairs, not always with a semblance of great authority. This article resulted in a spirited discussion about whether Australian Federal Police officers deployed to PNG late last year are doing any good.
TOP 10 MOST LIKED ARTICLES
50 likes - Phil Charley OAM, PNG commercial radio pioneer, dies at 89 (Keith Jackson)
47 likes - How Australia & the US gave away the people of West Papua (Gan Donker)
26 likes - Croc Prize winners’ profiles display the great diversity of PNG (Keith Jackson)
24 likes - Ok Tedi Mining Book of the Year: Brokenville by Leonard Fong Roka (Keith Jackson)
24 likes - Rude sisters of the delivery theatre – mothers must have dignity (Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin)
18 likes - Bougainville: a tragic adventure by an Australia seeking credibility (Kristian Lasslett)
16 likes - Why Bougainville landowners oppose Rio Tinto’s return (Kristian Lasslett)
14 likes - Leaders provide rationale behind Bougainville’s new mining laws (Keith Jackson)
14 likes - Media reporting that Rio is threatening to quit Bougainville (Barry Fitzgerald)
14 likes - Crocodile Prize founder says aim is to foster PNG’s creative talent (ABC Australia)
14 likes - Being gay in PNG – a photo-essay on the ‘gelegele’ lifestyle (Vlad Sokhin)