In Australia the small boutique publishers are crumbling before the onslaught of digital publishing and ebooks, while the big publishers are surviving by amalgamating and running with their established stable of saleable authors.
The same trends are evident globally. My own publisher finally gave up the game last year.
The only alternatives in the past have been self-publishing, using companies set up for the purpose, or printing your own books and trying to market them. Both are expensive options.
Upon the completion of the two-year course, Val taught in then colonial Papua New Guinea from 1964: serving in Daru, Dregerhafen, Gagidu, Wabag, Kavieng and then, from 1969-70, as teacher-in-charge of the demonstration school at Goroka Teachers College. “This was my favourite posting,” she says.
In 1971, Val returned to Australia and joined the South Australian Education Department specialising in teaching English as a second language, in which she was the matriculation curriculum developer and chief examiner for three years.
During her seven years in PNG, as so many people did, Val collected various artefacts, some would be of considerable value.
And now she’s donated them for sale – with the proceeds to go to supporting national literature in PNG.
WHEN THE CROCODILE PRIZE kicked off in 2011 it was the intention of the organisers to involve as many Papua New Guinea businesses as possible in the process, including the printing and distribution of the anthology.
Following many problems with printing, it is likely that the 2013 anthology will be printed in Australia. This is unfortunate but, under the circumstances, understandable. Having the anthology ready on time and at a competitive price is only fair to the many contributors.
This development is one of the lessons that have been learned through experience, which is always a wonderful and pragmatic teacher.
Another lesson brought home firmly is that publishing in Papua New Guinea has no future in the short term. Given the worldwide revolution occurring in publishing and the growth in popularity of the e-book the long term outlook is not very encouraging either.
IT IS JANE BELFIELD’s 80th birthday today and, amongst the congratulatory buzz, presents and cake, I thought I’d write some words about her once unusual, perhaps unique, role in Papua New Guinea broadcasting.
Jane and her then husband Michael Belfield moved to PNG in 1956 after Michael was posted to the Epo Agricultural Station near Popondetta. Jane was to remain in PNG for 23 years.
The family also lived in Mt Hagen before moving to Port Moresby, as most of us did in those years immediately before PNG’s independence in 1975.
In the early days, Jane freelanced for the ABC and the Post Courier and was agriculture correspondent for the late and lamented Pacific Islands Monthly. She later studied for her diploma in journalism through the University of Queensland.
Around 1970, Jane was appointed to the position of assistant editor in the newsroom of the Department of Information and Extension Services (DIES). I was recruited at about the same time and became station manager of Radio Rabaul and then Radio Bougainville.
Jane and I were on the opposite ends of the country and at opposite ends of the news distribution system.
In those days, of course, there was no email or fax. We did not even have a teleprinter service. So information was distributed to the 18 radio stations scattered across the country from the Central News Room (CNR) in Port Moresby through a dedicated broadcast channel.
In addition to writing and editing the news, Jane was the voice of CNR, reading the news – written in simple English ready for translation into a score of local languages – in measured, carefully modulated tones, spelling out the killer words, and repeating anything she judged to be especially complex.
At the 18 radio stations, the news would be transcribed and then translated into Pidgin English, Hiri Motu and a clutch of PNG’s hundreds of vernacular languages; whereupon it would take its place along with locally-collected news in the many news bulletins that were broadcast each day.
And so, even before we met this lovely woman, most of us out at the stations felt we knew her well just through the medium of CNR.
Later, in 1973, when the ABC and the Department of Information and Extension Services amalgamated to form the National Broadcasting Commission, Jane became chief sub-editor and was one of the first white women to be offered a government contract in the new independent PNG.
Ironically, in my own new position of NBC director of policy and planning, I had less to do with Jane when we occupied the same building than when we had been 1,000 km apart.
But we both had the exhilarating experience of working in journalism when a new nation was born and on seeing it move through the rigours of independence.
Jane has had a luminous career and I wish her well on this momentous milestone.
A DEEP AND ABIDING RELATIONSHIP exists between a nation and its literature.
There are two interconnected aspects to this relationship. The first uses literacy as a basis to talk about the educational and intellectual development of a nation. The assumption is that a literate population must also be one that is able to make informed and better judgments about issues and questions that are affecting their lives.
This aspect of the relationship between a nation and the need for raising the levels of literacy amongst our people has policy and budgetary implications. When cast in this light then we would have seen that so much time and money have been committed to the basic objective of making our population literate.
A combination of both methods and policies has been used to achieve such an objective including the introduction of vernacular education into our school systems around the country. All in all, literacy has been identified as an index that measures our general sense of economic growth and development.
The second aspect of the relationship between a nation and its literature comes from the assumption that the style, the themes, and the narratives that are canonized in its literature will come to define a country’s national character.
Thus for example, in the United Kingdom we find how Shakespeare’s volume of works has become such a pantheon of highly valorized and legitimated texts which has since, their appearance, have come to inspire a life time of scholarship and reflections.
The experiences of a country, of a nation, are marked by distinctive set of values, tensions, myths and aspirations, or psychological foci that are then inscribed in various forms of national literatures including novels, plays, short stories, poetry, and sometimes in other media such as films too.
In America and Australia, for example, the kind of national character that is revealed in a variety of its literature is the idea of rugged and self-reliant individuals who work hard to bring both individual and national prosperity.
These kinds of literature capture and portray certain cultural values that define a nation’s sense of national culture and morality. But this is not all that is to the relations between a nation and its distinctive literature.
As for Papua New Guinea, one can argue that the peculiar relationship between the nation and its literature become crystalised in the early 1960s when the spirit of nationalism was in ferment.
Literature was credited with the ‘power of a pen that is mightier than a sword’ because of its ability to inspire and generate cultural and therefore national consciousness.
THERE'S NOT OFTEN GOOD NEWS in our papers about Papua New Guinea, and when it comes to local writing there's no news at all. PNG writing flourished in the years leading to independence in 1975, part of the process of decolonisation, but in the decades that followed it dwindled and waned.
By 2000 it was said to be dead, which it wasn't. A few brave souls had kept writing, but for the most part literature hasn't been part of the nation's creative character. Dance, performance, oral narrative, but not fiction or poetry.
Well, until now, that is, with a new generation of writers flushed out, encouraged and made visible by the Crocodile Awards, which celebrated their second year last month.
Named after the first novel by a Papua New Guinean, Vincent Eri's The Crocodile (1971), the awards were founded in 2010 by Australians Phil Fitzpatrick and Keith Jackson for the best writing by Papua New Guineans in fiction, poetry and the essay.
The start was slow: no one knew what was out there, but by the first closing date in the middle of last year there were 160 entries from 80 writers, 34 of whom made it into the Crocodile Anthology that is published as part of the awards.
This year there were almost 600 entries from 135 writers. Prizes were given in seven categories and the 2012 Crocodile Anthology published 63 of the writers. With ongoing sponsorship secured, the running of the awards has been handed over to PNG's new Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers. Quite a revival.
In September, during Independence Week, the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby, as one of the sponsors, hosted the awards. The mood among the writers gathered for the day-long Crocodile Forum was celebratory and determined.
The constitutional crisis of earlier this year was resolved. The recent elections had returned the first of a new generation of younger parliamentarians, with some of the worst of the old guard voted out.
The writers, most of them in their 20s or 30s, spoke of themselves as part of a generational shift to redefine the potential and direction of the country. Older guests at the reception that evening were hopeful. "Cautious optimism" was how retired politician Dame Carol Kidu expressed it.
Eri's The Crocodile told the story of a young man torn between two cultures, with magic and sorcery tugging him in one direction, and the new white ways making demands in the other. It was a theme common in those years. Eri's crocodile was literal and an image of all that was submerged and threatening.
There are still submerged, and not-so submerged, threats - "hauntings" is the word used by Emma Wakpi, the winner of this year's essay award - but this next generation of writers no longer looks back to colonial baggage.
We must find a way, Wakpi says, to confront the hauntings within our own culture. The modern reality of PNG is to be met on its own terms.
Other essays in the anthology confront the failure of leadership, corruption and the gross inequities of wealth that have come with the misuse of government power and money. Some are pessimistic, a grim catalogue; others a rallying cry.
Michael Dom's defence of buai (betel nut) market vendors is about a great deal more than buai and the red stains on the pavement where the chewers spit.
Dom, an agricultural scientist and advocate for small-scale agricultural production and "attainable development the PNG way", won the poetry prize for his sonnet, I met a pig farmer the other day, which, similarly, is about more than meeting a pig farmer. To him, poetry is a "powerful means of expression of the collective conscience of people".
For bloggers Martyn Namorong and Emmanuel Narokobi, it's not poetry but social networking that will bring about change. Narokobi says he went into social media hoping to make money and found instead that he could promote social change.
2012 WAS THE SECOND YEAR of the Crocodile Prize literary awards, with more than double the number of writers entering than in 2011.
The awards ceremony was accompanied by a day-long forum for 20 or so writers, and also the publication of The Crocodile Anthology 2012.
It was a great day, the mood hopeful; I found the forum particularly interesting. My tentative assessment is that this resurgence in Papua New Guinea writing (the extent of which has surprised even the founders of the awards) does speak to a much-needed generational shift.
Most of the writers at the forum were in their 20s or 30s, all were politically oriented, and, while they didn’t directly assert themselves as a generation to bring about change – although exactly what that might mean is not clear - it was more an attitude than a program.
It made me think of Regis Stella, the PNG writer who died in 2012, who liked to quote Wole Soyinka on the writer as witness and moral voice.
The writers at the forum fell into two broad groups:
1) The bloggers, most of them men, who were more interested in the potential of social networking than in writing as an art form, or in the technicalities of writing. For some, writing was articulated as the transcription of speech.
The bloggers were the most overtly politically engaged of the writers, and the most aware of themselves as agents or a force for change.
Emmanuel Narakobi said he went into social media hoping to make money and found instead that he could make social change. Martyn Namorong was a Crocodile Award winner in 2011, and in May this year toured Australia, meeting several federal politicians in Canberra. Alan Griffiths impressed him, though most did not, their knowledge of PNG full of ‘gaps’.
Australians, Namorong said at the forum, will represent their own interests even when they are being helpful. He has no truck either with the notion of a golden age before Independence, or of the fatal impact of colonialism. It’s the role of the blogger, he says, to understand the conditions of the present and articulate a better way forward. ‘Freedom from fear’ is the banner of his blog.
Interestingly, after years in Port Moresby selling buai to make a living, he is going back to his Province. With Digicel’s cheap mobile technology revolutionising communication across the country, he can continue his work from there; this resurgence won’t make its mark, he says, if it doesn’t bring the villages and the provinces with it. (The impact of Digicel cannot be overemphasised)
LEONARD FONG ROKA
In the middle of this month I attended this year’s PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers’ event in Port Moresby.
I wanted to meet established Papua New Guinean and Australian authors and listen to their inspirational words to help me improve in my writing.
Interestingly, this great Crocodile Prize competition is supported by the Australian High Commission but not the PNG government.
I uttered not a word! Not at all a social being, I guess.
But from my perfect world I met great writing men and women from all over Papua New Guinea. Men and women who know me as I know them only by name and not physically.
I was proud to be in the company of authors like Russell Soaba and Francis Nii; bloggers Nou Vada, Martyn Namorong and Emmanuel Narakobi; and Australian writer and big time Crocodile Prize editor, Phil Fitzpatrick. Our Keith Jackson was not present.
Whilst in the midst of Australians and other Papua New Guineans with the common interest that is literature, spills did reached my wriggling ears that the high walking Papua New Guinean employees of the Australian High Commission had plastered lips.
They were to utter no word pressing Australian national interest or they would be fired, a fellow Highlander whispered to me as a local girl passed us, poking the concrete with high-heels.
So cool was I in a perfect world of writers.
More than anything else, I did sell off to my fellow men and women who I was in character or attitude.
Many threw a light on that. ‘Mr LFR,’ they said, ‘reading you and your world we thought you were somewhat a physically an imposing being. But you are really a small man with a big mouth…’ Ha ha!
Photos: Jimmy Drekore
I COULDN’T GET A FLIGHT OUT of Hervey Bay on the day before the first annual general meeting of the Papua New Guinea Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers and the Crocodile Prize events, so I opted to fly up on the same day. Not a good move.
Getting up at 4.30am, sitting on two aeroplanes for several hours, lobbing into customs at the back end of the almost simultaneously arriving Virgin, Airlines PNG, Qantas, Air Niugini flights from Australia and then racing out to the Australian High Commission for 3pm hoping to be relatively organised and coherent at my age is a physical and mental impossibility.
Sitting there frantically searching for the list of email votes for the society election, which I found the following day exactly where I had packed it, and banging the right hand pad on my laptop wondering why nothing would work, I thanked my lucky stars that Amanda Donigi, Jimmy Drekore and Ruth Moiam were there to smooth it all over.
Amanda is super cool and takes everything in her stride with effortless panache. Jimmy is a bundle of energy exuding charisma every which way; if you could bottle it you’d make a fortune. And for an ex-kiap used to winging it, Ruth is so organised it positively scares me.
At the end of the afternoon it was absolutely gratifying to see them win the respective president, vice president and secretary positions in the Society. Along with Gina Samar, a professional accountant who won the treasurer’s position, the society has elected itself a great team.
And a team they are, working together seamlessly with help from the enthusiastic committee of Steve Ilave, Regina Dorum, David Kitchnoge and David Gonol the Society is off to a great start.
It is now time for Keith and I, as well as those other people in Australia who helped us, to step back and let the new executive and committee get on with planning the 2013 events. I’ve no doubt that they will do it well.
After several red wines and a good night’s sleep, I handled the writer’s forum and the awards ceremony the next day a lot better. Indeed, I mostly sat in the background and listened to the fascinating speakers.
At the forum I was impressed by the intelligent and jittery presentation by Martyn Namorong. Between the coughs and the constant waving of his ever-present iPad (I wonder if he sleeps with it turned on), I listened to him talking about overcoming fear and the power of social media. Don’t be fooled by Martyn’s retreat to his home province; we’ll hear a lot more from him.
Emmanuel Narakobi told us how he’d gone into social media hoping to make money and had got caught up in the “power to make social change”. Both he and Martyn made us aware that social media is a new literary genre in Papua New Guinea which has the potential to do great good.
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.
The story began about this time two years ago, when author, anthropologist and ex-kiap Phil Fitzpatrick proposed – half joking – that this website, PNG Attitude, should initiate a national literary contest in Papua New Guinea.
The idea made sense. Papua New Guinea had a flourishing written literature around independence in 1975. In fact, it was the then newly emergent Papua New Guinean writers who did much to define and explain the cultural significance of those momentous times.
But, as the years passed, that literary tradition – based as it was on the oral traditions that had been a cultural bedrock for millennia – began to wane.
You see, there was much money to be gained from coffee and copper and aid, but creative literature seemed, well, a bit of an indulgence.
Little thought was given to, and certainly no value attributed to, the role of literature in delineating, reinforcing and guiding the new nation
And so the writers, essayists and poets languished. There were efforts made by individuals and, to give it some due, The National. But this was a puny effort in comparison to what was required to both develop the latent literary talent in Papua New Guinea and, just as important, enable the people to read their own literature.
Under aid programs, eventually, thousands and thousands of books were distributed throughout the land. But a mere handful were written by Papua New Guineans about their own society, culture, issues and feelings; and most of them were self-published.
And so the thought of a national literary contest that would encourage people to write, bring out writers of high talent and, through a publishing program, allow the people to read their own literature was dreamed up.
The first institution to support the initiative was the Post-Courier. The second was the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby. Without Blaise Nangoi, Patrick Levo and Ian Kemish, the idea would have been dead in the water.
Since those days in late 2010, there’s a lot that’s gone right with the Crocodile Prize (named after Vincent Eri’s famous first Papua New Guinean novel, a landmark creation), and a bit that’s gone wrong, as you’d expect with any human endeavour.
Since then we’ve had two years of the Crocodile Prize literary competition, which conclusively proved I was awry in my assessment.
There is nothing wrong with literature in Papua New Guinea. It is very far from being in decline. On the contrary, it is absolutely booming!
There are hundreds, that’s right, hundreds of talented writers out there scribbling and typing away every hour and every day of the week.
You name it and they are writing about it – love and romance, politics and war, social issues, history, the future, pigs, dogs and everything.
How can that be true, you ask? And, if it is true, how come we can’t go into a shop and buy their books? After all, this is what we want to read, it is much more interesting than those second hand and distant books from overseas.
And, of course, that is the nub of the problem - you’ve got it in one. There are plenty of shops that would sell Papua New Guinean books if they could get them, especially if they came at a reasonable cost. The trouble is, there are no books being published for the shops to sell.
Why not? The answer is that there is no money to be made from publishing Papua New Guinean writers and their books. Production costs are too high, distribution is difficult, the market is too small and people need to buy food and other necessities before they spend money on luxuries like books.
Try this for an example. It has cost us close to K50,000 to print 3,000 copies of the 2012 Crocodile Prize Anthology. That’s K17 per copy without the cost of editing, design and distribution. If we wanted to get our money back we’d have to wholesale it for at least K35. With the retailer’s profit margin that would take it up to around K50 a copy. And that would be a really cheap Papua New Guinean book. You can buy a lot of rice and tinfish for K50.
But books aren’t luxuries, you say. The heart and soul of a nation are defined by its literature; no luxury, surely? And besides, with declining literacy rates, our kids need good Papua New Guinean books to read. How else can they learn about their country, its past, its prospects? Someone needs to do something about it! What is the government doing, for goodness sake?
And here you would be hitting the nub of the problem on the head. What is the government doing?
The answer is a very sad ‘absolutely nothing’. Isn’t that appalling? Isn’t that shameful? And to make matters worse, it isn’t just the current government or the one before that or even the one before that; it’s all of them, ever since independence and, to Australia’s shame, even before that.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN to one of those annual general meetings where the time came for the committee to be elected – and no one wanted to be secretary, or treasurer, or anything very much?
I clearly recall in Kundiawa in the 1960s when I was made captain of the cricket team because no one else wanted to organise the games, the teams, the equipment, the coir matting…
For me as a batsman with no need for any part of the bat than the edge, a fielder who magnetically attracted balls until they reached the hands and a bowler more suited to knitting, captaincy was the only way I could get a game of cricket.
Well the same cannot be said about the first elections of the PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers – which are being as keenly fought over as the recent PNG national elections.
Every position is contested, including a mighty field of 13 for the three committee positions, and we already know one thing for certain – we are heading for a very talented and dynamic leadership group for the national literature body which, in future years, will administer the Crocodile Prize and related activities.
The candidates for election are broadly representative of PNG’s geography, there is a good gender balance and a nice spread of age and professional capability.
The election is being conducted in two parts. Members who have registered to attend the annual general meeting on Monday 10 September will cast their votes at the meeting.
Those members who cannot attend the AGM have already been sent voting documents and will be able to cast their votes by email so long as they arrive by Sunday 2 September.
And, for the record, here’s the list of candidates for each of the committee positions:
THE CROCODILE PRIZE was established in 2010 by PNG Attitude and the Post-Courier newspaper to encourage and publish Papua New Guinean writers and to provide opportunities for the people of PNG to read their own literature.
It has developed rapidly since to become the nation’s major literary event – with this year’s prize attracting 600 entries from 150 writers, twice the number of 2011.
In 2012 there are seven awards in the Crocodile Prize – each carrying prize money of K5,000 and a trophy for short stories, poetry, essays/journalism, heritage literature, women’s literature, student writing and a lifetime achievement award.
But the Prize is more than a writing contest.
It has given birth to the PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers, whose 90 members in two weeks will elect a committee and take over the administration of the Prize and its associated activities.
The Prize has also spawned an annual Anthology of the best PNG writing. This year’s book features prose and poetry from 66 of the 150 writers who entered the national contest.
PNG Attitude is pleased to be able to here acknowledge all these authors and their creative works. For many of them, having their work appear in the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2012 will be the first time they have seen their words published.
Here are the published authors, their profiles and the works that are included in this year's Anthology...
There are the usual offices of president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer as well as three committee positions.
From the large number of nominations so far, it’s clear there will be a competitive vote for each position between some very talented candidates.
It was about a year ago that our minds turned to establishing an association of writers in Papua New Guinea which would, within a short period of time, take over the administration of the Crocodile Prize and its many related activities.
The reasoning was straightforward – while it was certainly possible for Phil Fitzpatrick and me to continue running the Prize from Australia, it was not feasible that it could become a sustainable part of PNG’s literary culture so long as we did so.
So, late last year, the Society was incorporated, drew up a constitution and began to seek members, of which it now has 80. Soon after, it began publishing a monthly newsletter and now it is ready to elect its own national leadership.
An interim committee of Amanda Donigi, Ruth Moiam, Jimmy Drekore, David Kitchnoge, Phil and me has been administering the Society and the Prize in the meantime.
There are 60 full members of the Society, that is, Papua New Guinean citizens, from whom the president and other officers will be elected in a vote that will conclude at the inaugural annual general meeting late on the afternoon of Monday 10 September.
Members not in a position to attend the meeting will be able to vote by email. That said, we expect up to 30 members to be at the Australian High Commission in Waigani for the AGM.
Early next week, when all the nominations are in, we’ll let you know who’s standing for election and something about who they are.
And if you want to join the Society (free for Papua New Guinean citizens, $50 for others), email me here and I’ll send you an application form.
Now they have donated a considerable sum of money to the Crocodile Prize that should allow the printing of up to 10,000 books of original Papua New Guinean writing to be circulated throughout the length and breadth of the country.
It is believed that this print run of The Crocodile Prize Anthology 2012 will be the largest of any book ever published in PNG.
Ken McKinnon has done so much in his life that is often overlooked that he was a pioneering director of education in PNG from 1966-73; known as the man who reformed and redirected the education system, gave it a national orientation and put it on an ‘independence footing’.
Despite the fact that the ASOPA-trained McKinnon (he was in the first batch of young Australian teachers bound for PNG who were trained there in 1954) quickly showed that he was someone out of the ordinary - rising rapidly though the ranks in the PNG teaching service - there was nothing straightforward about his appointment as PNG director of education.
Contemporary records show that the head of the Australian Department of Territories, George Warwick Smith held back McKinnon’s appointment for a year “because he did not like [him]” and despite it being “crystal clear that McKinnon was so far ahead of the others that it would be ludicrous to consider anybody else.’
The selection committee had unanimously agreed to appoint McKinnon, then in his early thirties, and then TPNG waited for a year it could ill afford while Warwick Smith got over his angst.
That Warwick Smith, a notoriously stubborn and bloody-minded man, was also a goose of the first order is shown by McKinnon’s brilliant career following upon those early days.
Emeritus Professor Kenneth R McKinnon AO AUA(Adel) BA BEd (Qld) EdD (Harvard) DLitt (Hon Woll) DLitt (Hon Deakin) DLitt (Hon UNSW), DUniv (Hon James Cook) FACE was to become one of Australia’s most outstanding educators and educational administrators.
After leaving PNG he became chairman of the newly-established Australian Schools Commission (1973-81) and vice-chancellors of Wollongong University (1981-95), James Cook University (1997) and Charles Darwin University (2002-03). He was also chairman of the Australian Press Council from 2000-2011.
His other appointments also provide a clear indication of his energy and ability - board member of the College of Law, president of the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee and chairman of the National Commission for UNESCO as well as a consultant to the World Bank and 18 universities in Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.
Apart from his great support of the Crocodile Prize, I have a particular reason for being grateful to McKinnon.
As a young school teacher at Gagl (near Kerowagi) in 1966 – writing occasional scripts for the ABC and freelancing for the then South Pacific Post and Pacific Islands Monthly – I was plucked from my outpost and transferred to Port Moresby as editor of school publications, so initiating a career that has continued to this day.
And it was McKinnon who signed the papers that gave me the job.
So, after nearly half a century, the two of us are still managing to find common cause in our love of PNG and its people.
And that’s a good story, if ever I had the pleasure to write one.
AWARD-WINNING AUSTRALIAN AUTHOR Drusilla Modjeska is to lead a session on the development of fictional writing at this year’s writers workshop associated with the Crocodile Prize national literary awards.
The AustAsia Pacific Health Services Writers Forum was initiated last year to enable emergent and established writers in Papua New Guinea to come together to discuss and improve their craft.
This year’s event will be held at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby on Tuesday 11 September.
Another leading writer to feature at the Forum is prominent blogger and social critic, Martyn Namorong, who will speak on turning personal experience into the written word.
Drusilla Modjeska, who is acknowledged as one of Australia’s best contemporary authors, spent some time in PNG in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a student at the University of PNG.
She recently published a novel, The Mountain, which draws from those experiences.
From those years she retains a strong friendship with PNG author and poet Russell Soaba [pictured], who will also present at the Forum on the subject of ‘poetry, trolls, toads & the curse of anonymity’.
Other PNG presenters include poet Jimmy Drekore (‘Connecting with the community’) and writers Emma Wakpi and Francis Nii and poet Michael Dom who will discuss the challenges writers face in reaching the nation from the regions.
Australian author, ex-kiap and Crocodile Prize organiser, Phil Fitzpatrick, will also lead a session on the future development of the Prize. Another Australian author and ex-kiap, Bob Cleland, will also be present at the workshop.
The Forum will be followed by the annual Crocodile Prize awards where national winners will be announced in Student Writing, Women's Literature, Heritage Literature, Essays & Journalism, Poetry, Short Stories and for Lifetime Contribution to Literature in PNG.
The evening before the Forum will see the inaugural annual general meeting of the PNG Society of Writers, Editors & Publishers.
The meeting will elect a wholly-Papua New Guinean board and also approve a constitution for the new organisation.
The Society already has over 70 members, including many of PNG’s most eminent writers.
It is still not too late to register for any of these events. Email Keith Jackson here
And if you want to attend, you must email us now [see below] to secure your place. All Prize activity will be at the Australian High Commission in Waigani, Port Moresby.
The three main events are:
Monday 10 September, 4.30 pm - 6 pm. First annual general meeting of the PNG Society of Writers, Editors & Publishers. Members are urged to attend. If you wish to attend the meeting, or join the Society, email us here. Membership is free to Papua New Guinean citizens; $50 to others.
Tuesday 11 September, 9.30 am – 4 pm. AustAsia Pacific Health Services Writers Forum. This workshop features leading authors and poets talking about the writing craft and discussing issues facing writers in PNG. If you wish to attend email us here.
Tuesday, 11 September, 4.30 pm – 8 pm. Crocodile Prize Awards Ceremony & Reception. This is the big literary event of the year where prize winners will be announced for the seven awards that are offered under the Crocodile Prize. If you wish to attend email us here.
We urge you to get in touch with us immediately if you wish to go to any or all of these events as numbers will need to be limited.
Members of the media who want to attend should email Keith Jackson here.
And you can also Download the Draft Crocodile Prize Program.
When the call went out last week for funding to ensure we could manage a respectable first edition of the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2012, it resonated in the mountains and, between the people there and other generous sponsors, organisers are now able to fund an initial print of 2,000 copies of the book.
The Tabubil settlement, a company town that services the Ok Tedi copper mine, is located in dense jungle and records one of the highest rainfalls in the world.
But there’s no raining on parades from any of the companies out there near the Indonesian border when it comes to good corporate citizenship.
Paul A Povey, managing director of the MRSM Group of Companies, has been a wonderful supporter of the Prize and, this time around, arranged for two of MRSM’s subsidiaries - Fubilan Catering Services and Tabubil Engineering Ltd – to donate K1,000 each to the printing program.
Meanwhile Nigel Parker, managing director and CEO of Ok Tedi Mining Limited, was hatching a plan of his own and authorised a $5,000 gift to the Prize – which will print about 500 books.
OTML is already the sponsor of the award for women’s literature; Paul Povey is an important private donor; and the Star Mountains Institute of Technology is a notable supporter.
It’s a magnificent display of community spiritedness by all these good folks.
A FEW DAYS AGO in PNG Attitude we ran an inspiring story about 98-year old Daisy Henry and her commitment to reading. Daisy’s family donated $1,000 on her behalf to help get the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2012 printed.
In the same article we mentioned how the dual failure of the Australian and PNG governments to get behind the Crocodile Prize had left the organisers in the invidious position of being unable to fund a print run for the Anthology that would be anything more than derisory.
That’s when my company kicked in $5,000 as a donation to get more books printed so enabling many first rate PNG writers to have their words read, and allowing PNG readers to access creative writing from their own country.
My gift was quickly followed by a further donation of $5,000 from Ok Tedi Mining and K2,000 from Mineral Resources Star Mountains Limited (the MRSM Group).
These two great companies were backing up – they were already sponsors of the Prize.
And with the word out amongst the resources companies, I have an inkling there may be even more money to come.
Together with what we have in our Westpac bank account in Port Moresby, the Anthology printing fund is now heading north of $20,000.
This will print around 2,000 books, which is getting to be a respectable number.
The respective government, of course, may well believe their intransigence has led to a wonderful self-help project and saved their bureaucrats time, effort and money.
Of course, it tells the rest of us that they have their heads in the sand and are totally ignorant of the benefits that accrue from a nation that is prepared to develop its own literary tradition.
WHEN WE ASKED the Australian government, via the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for a few dollars to help out with the printing of the Crocodile Prize Anthology, it said:
“Um, er, we’re in the middle of filling out our latest travel allowance claim and we need to finalise next month’s bookings at the Crowne Plaza and someone has to pick up our fifteen new Land Cruisers; could you ring us back in a year or two, someone might be able to help you out then?”
Fair enough, we thought, those poor people are obviously being run off their feet; we’ll try the PNG government.
We had a bit of trouble at first. When we rang the phone kept ringing out. We asked a few people about this and were told that either the telephone had been disconnected because no one had bothered to pay Telikom or the people on the other end were out to lunch.
Strange, we thought, why would the whole government be out to lunch between 10am and 3pm? We’d better try ringing early.
When we finally got through the nice gentleman on the other end said, “Yes, what do you want, I have to go to lunch shortly.”
“Is this the PNG government?” we asked.
‘That’s right, what do you want, I’ve got to go soon?” he replied.
“Who are we speaking to?” we asked.
“It’s Akis!” he replied.
We explained our request to Akis.
“No worries wantok,” he replied, “how much do you want?”
We named a figure. The line went quiet for a while and then Akis told us what 10% of our figure worked out at and gave us an address in Hohola to which we should mail the money – in cash please.
“What about if we just buy you lunch next time we’re in Mosbi?” we replied.
“Okay, Akis said. “Send in your submission and we can discuss it then.”
We sat up burning the midnight oil for a few days and came up with what we thought was a well argued, detailed and succinct submission. We added a draft copy of the Anthology and mailed it off to Akis at his Hohola address.
A month or so later we met Akis in the Crowne Plaza. He ordered a huge lunch and we watched him consume it with great relish. He then called for another Crown Lager and half a dozen plastic containers and loaded the leftovers into them. “For the family,” he said, “can’t waste good food.”
When we had paid the rather expensive bill we asked him about our submission and what he thought about the draft Anthology.
“I’m sorry, but we can’t fund it,” he replied.
“Why not?” we asked.
“Well, there’s the matter of the outstanding 10% commission; my boss said we couldn’t entertain your submission without some incentive; besides we’re both behind in this month’s dinau.”
“Who is your boss, by the way?” we asked.
“This week it’s, er, John, I think,” Akis replied.
“Didn’t you like the Anthology either?” we asked. “We thought it is rather good.”
“Well, it is okay, I suppose,” Akis replied.
“Okay?” we replied.
“Well, it doesn’t mention either me or John and there is nothing in it about how wonderful and generous Peter and Michael are.”
“We suppose we could mention you all?” we replied.
“You’d better say something about Belden too, just in case, if you know what I mean, and maybe Jeffrey, otherwise he’ll get stroppy and sue you.”
“What do you reckon we should say?” we asked.
“Well, Belden likes people to acknowledge his generosity and vision and nobility and kingly qualities and ….”
“What about Jeffrey?” we asked.
“He likes his rugged good looks mentioned,” Akis replied smiling into his hand.
“What else do we need to do?” we asked.
“Well, you need to do a bit of editing; some of those people in there are not saying very nice things; that Namorong person and Nou Vada and maybe that Dom person; we’re not keen on that Kitchnoge person either; and all those women whinging about being beaten up and raped, that had better go too.
“It might be best just to leave them all out I think,” Akis said and then burped before signalling a waiter for another Crown Lager.
“Um, we might get back to you Akis,” we said, “maybe after the elections.”
“Sure!” Akis replied. “I’ll still be here; I’m not sure about John or Belden or Jeffrey though. Maybe we can have lunch again?”
"Daisy was born into rural Appalachian poverty in a coal mining town in 1910,” says our reader.
“She never went to school, had 12 children, and worked on the family farm and later in a factory.
“She values reading and writing more than just about anything else.
“This amazing woman, who grew up with nothing and no formal education, taught me and all of my 34 first-cousins how to read.
“Her legacy is a generation of people who are doctors, lawyers, professors, and business people.
“This is what I feel like your Prize does in PNG - begin to acknowledge that literature, poetry and language are a step towards better lives for people.”
And with these words came a donation of $1,000 which will be applied to the Crocodile Prize’s underfunded publishing program.
It is underfunded because Australia’s foreign affairs department apparently saw no benefit in providing a grant to assist publish the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2012 – the one book in PNG that each year provides locally-created literature for Papua New Guinean readers.
DFAT could not understand what Daisy Henry understands so well: that reading is the magic key that unlocks multitudes of doors in the human journey.
Reading your own literature - written in your own idiom, about things that matter to you and your nation and your culture – ought to be considered a basic right.
The print run of 200 books we looked like being restricted to would be neither here not there in terms of making an impact, almost vanity publishing; so this extra money in honour of Daisy Henry is like gold.
And I’m adding $5,000 to that – which would have been spent on my trip to PNG in September, a trip I will forego – to get even more books printed.
Who knows, maybe we can shame the Australian government – or encourage some other government or organisation – into ensuring that thousands of Papua New Guineans are able to read their own literature.
It is their entitlement.
Readers can help get more books printed by ordering the Anthology ahead of publication. See advertisement at the top of the blog
AUSTASIA PACIFIC HEALTH SERVICES – which is already sponsoring the writers’ workshop to be held in conjunction with the Crocodile Prize - has initiated a supplementary award for runners up in the student writing contest.
The Chalkies’ Yokomo Prize for Student Writing is an initiative of ex-Papua New Guinea schoolteacher and School Paper editor, Ed Brumby, and the K5,000 award was provided by Ed and many other former expatriate schoolteachers (chalkies) who worked in PNG before independence.
Yokomo was a notorious fictional comic personality who featured in the School Paper and also in school broadcasts on the then National Broadcasting Commission.
The Chalkies’ award will be divided evenly between the winning piece of writing by a high school or primary school student and their school.
The AustAsia Pacific Health Student Encouragement Awards, three awards of K200 each, have been added for the three students who are runners up to the winner.
AustAsia Pacific Health Services (http://www.webbpacific.com.au) is based in Queensland and provides medical and hospital services in PNG to individual patients, mining, insurance and other companies, as well as patients referred from overseas medical facilities.
It links international patients and doctors with Australian specialists, providing ease of communication, emotional support and comfort on the ground for patients and their families.
THE STORIES AND VERSE in the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2013, which is about to go to press, have been revealed by the organisers of Papua New Guinea’s national literary contest, an initiative of PNG Attitude and the PNG Post-Courier.
The Anthology will be launched on Tuesday 11 September as part of events associated with the announcement of the winners in the second Crocodile Prize.
There are seven categories of the Prize: for short stories, essays, poetry, women’s writing, heritage literature, student writing and ‘lifetime contribution to PNG literature’ – the last three introduced just this year.
Of the more than 400 entries submitted to the competition, 125 have been selected for publication in the Anthology.
Let’s take a closer look at them.
The 30 short stories chosen represent the work of 24 writers (six had two of their stories earmarked for publication).
Twenty-one writers contributed the 53 poems in the Anthology. Michael Dom was the most prolific with 15, while Hinuvi Onafima had five selected and Lapieh Landu and Loujaya Tony had four each.
Twelve essayists have had their work selected for publication – and there a number of multiple contributors in the final list of 17 essays.
We come now to the heritage writers, nine in all who contributed the ten stories that have been included in the Anthology
And finally the school students. Fifteen pieces of work from 12 writers are in the final compilation.
These are the bare statistics. We follow with the names of the authors who were successful in being PNG’s ‘best of the best’ for 2012, and the titles of the works they created for the Prize which have been included in Anthology 2012.
If you live in Australia and you want to order the Anthology ($20 + $4 p&p), email us here. Papua New Guinea and other sales arrangements will be notified later.
SO NAMAH’S PARTY (aka the PNG Party) claims to be the party for change.
Sadly, as we saw in his latest press release, Namah himself hasn’t changed.
Activist Effrey Dademo has called for constitutional reforms as a way forward. She joins outgoing Opposition Leader Dame Carol Kidu and numerous voices nationwide.
It wasn't the right time to raise the postponement of the election.
Belden Namah had his entire term as an MP in the last parliament to raise the issue. He never did so.
He had the chance to sack the Executive Council, and he didn't.
In fact he, along with others, renewed the EC's contract. He chose to raise it at time when there was power struggle!
Bottom line, he and others could not be trusted at the time, period!
What happened here was bound to happen anyway. It's an issue that has never been sold.
It's time for constitutional reform - a re-look at the systems and procedures we've "adopted"...not ours, not even tailor made to our circumstances, but "adopted"
Politics aside, people got screwed by the Electoral Commission, and Mr Trawen must step down immediately after the elections.
The new government must then work on creating a new system of democratic government that is more responsive to the needs of the people.
And the PNG Attitude readers’ story is one far removed from the languid passivity of the supine web surfer.
Our readers boast a notable track record of action – including medical equipment to Kavieng hospital, treatment for a Papuan villager confronting blindness, support for the Crocodile Prize, practical condolence to Reg Renagi, not to mention the recent successful Australian tour by Martyn Namorong.
And now we’re asking you to stand up, put up and stump up again.
Picture a small room tucked away in the paediatric ward of the Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Hospital in Kundiawa, Simbu Province.
There sits a man in a wheelchair. He’s nearing 50 and his faced is etched by time, hardship and the heritage of his Salt-Nomane people in the south Simbu.
This man has a degree in economics and was an agricultural economist and banker with Papua New Guinea’s National Development Bank until a car accident on 9 February 1999 left him paraplegic and laid him low. He’s been in hospital for the 13 years since.
Being thus disabled is a particularly tough gig in PNG, where welfare is self-provided and life with a disability is anything but easy. Most people die early.
But Francis Nii has survived. A tough man from Yobai village, he has adapted to tough times. He writes verse and prose (see the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2011), has published a book on the scourge of AIDS (Paradise In Peril), set up the Simbu Association of Persons With Disability, and, recently, was appointed administrator of the Simbu Children Foundation.
We’ve invited Francis to travel to Port Moresby in September to be present at the Crocodile Prize awards and to participate in a discussion group of regional authors at the associated writers forum.
Francis - who is not flush with funds - has been raising money to pay for his travel and accommodation but still requires another $800 to make the trip.
I’ve assured him I’ll obtain the money by hook and by the book (not by crook, no way), and I’m hopeful you may see fit to contribute a spare $20 or $50 to help out. Bank account details follow, as does one of Francis's poems:
Australia - The Crocodile Prize
Account name: SPSS The Crocodile
BSB: 633 000
Account number: 141 021 527
Papua New Guinea - Society of Writers, Editors & Publishers
Westpac, Waigani Branch
Account name: PNG Society of Writers, Editors & Publishers
Account number : 6002358726
By Francis Nii
Kunai hut, remember-me-ever
Wooden bed, forget-me-not
Roasted kaukau is always sweet.
Flowers keep smiling
Birds sing unchanged jungle melodies
While country kids dance free for joy
Waterfalls like silver crystals
Early rainbow kiss the dewy treetops
Kids hide and seek,
And mum and dad have endless honey moon.
No gang of boars, intrude.
Stay gentle village,
Peaceful promise land.
BY KEITH JACKSON
LAST WEEK PNG ATTITUDE readers were asked their views on two pieces of artwork that might become the cover of the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2012 – the annual compendium of the best Papua New Guinea writing.
Readers displayed a clear preference (see below) and now the man behind those works of art can be revealed.
He is Joe Bilbu, now a surfwear designer in Fiji and previously of Babaka village in PNG’s Central Province.
Joe is married to Fiji citizen and has three children, where he works for Fiji's largest clothing company (Snagindas) designing things like surf wear, street wear, boardshorts, cargo shorts and bula shirts.
He completed his primary education at St Peters School in Erima and his secondary school at De la Salle High, Bomana, before moving to Arawa High in Bougainville, and finally Passam National High School in the East Sepik.
After graduating he was accepted into the then National Arts School, graduating with a diploma of Graphic Design and finding a full time design job with the National Youth Commission.
Joe went on to undertake further training and obtained a certificate in electronic publishing at RMIT University in Melbourne.
Joe wins a prize of $500 for his winning design. He also submitted five others, all of which were of high quality.
AS THE JUDGES SET TO WORK reading the 576 entries in the Crocodile Prize national literary contest, which closed at the end of May, for the first time it’s possible to properly appreciate the wonderful scope.
The categories were dominated by poetry, with 353 entries; then short stories 73; essays 61; student 59; and heritage 24.
Each category carries prize money of K5,000 and a magnificent Crocodile Prize trophy.
Some 135 people entered the contest – and they were drawn from every one of Papua New Guinea’s provinces and special regions except Western and Sandaun. A great national result.
Central and the National Capital District provided 25% of entrants; Morobe 16%; Eastern Highlands 9%; Simbu 8%; and Madang, East New Britain and Western Highlands 5% each.
The numbers of entrants was pretty evenly split by gender – 53% male; 47% female.
The oldest entrant is Dave Korahi Doriga from Kira Kira near Port Moresby; Dave’s a grand 71-years old.
The youngest is Otto Paige Lebeshiivah who, at age 9, is in Grade 4 at North Goroka Demonstration School.
You can download here the names and brief profiles of all the entrants for whom we have information, and that’s most of them.
Thanks to all the people who entered and to our splendid group of sponsors: AustAsia Pacific Health Services; Australian High Commission; British American Tobacco (PNG); the Chalkies; Cleland Family; Mike Ahrens; MRSM Group; Ok Tedi Mining; PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum; Star Mountains Institute of Technology; Steamships; and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Queensland.
One thing that’s gone spectacularly right is the contest we held, which you probably didn’t notice, to find a cover for the Anthology: the book containing the best Papua New Guinean writing in 2012.
One of the favoured entries is to the right. Another is down this story a bit further. (And please feel free to tell us what you think of them.)
Other things that went well are also important things: a threefold increase in writers entering the contest; a fourfold increase in submissions; the terrific support from some great sponsors whose generosity ensures the prizes to be offered are really worthwhile (our sponsors’ names are at the end of this article – we are deeply grateful to them).
Because of the sponsors, the categories of awards have expanded from four to seven, with the addition of prizes for heritage literature, student writing and lifetime contribution to PNG literature.
And the Australian High Commission in PNG continues its sterling support. As does the PNG Post-Courier, our partners in what The National would probably call crime (the crime of succeeding without The National), thanks to Post-Courier editor Blaise Nangoi and our dear friend, features editor Big Pat Levo.
Then there are people like Russell Soaba and Ruth Moiam and Amanda Donigi and Jimmy Drekore and Michael Dom and David Kitchnoge; good people who act to make sure things happen. And I haven’t even mentioned Phil Fitzpatrick yet….
And not a word more should be written without a salute to the PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers that was established this year - 70 members already.
Then there were the failures … there were.
The Australian foreign affairs department not coming to the party to ensure the Anthology (PNG writing for PNG readers) would enjoy a strong print run. All we asked DFAT to do was provide funding to print a book, not start a war for god’s sake. Apparently DFAT doesn't do PNG writing for PNG readers.
And then there was a let down from a website designer (who promised), a printer (who promised) and a few other promises (including a promising overture from PNG LNG that turned to clay) that weren’t kept and that – at the end of the day – didn’t matter, because we’re getting there anyway.
The one I feel strongest about, in case you hadn’t guessed, is the failure of DFAT to ensure the Anthology 2012 gets into the hands of as many Papua New Guineans as possible.
Any people on the face of this globe who don’t have the opportunity to read their own literature are an impoverished people. DFAT clearly is asleep to that deep truth. About time Bob 'Thoughtlines' Carr woke them up and got them thinking.
And so to our great sponsors (who I thank on behalf of you all) -
AustAsia Pacific Health Services Writers Forums
Australian High Commission Support for book publication
British American Tobacco (PNG) Prize for Lifetime Contribution to Literature [Sir Paulias Matane Award]
Chalkies' Prize for Student Writing [Yokomo Award]
Cleland Family Prize for Heritage Literature
Mike Ahrens General support
Moore Printing Prize for Poetry [John Kasaipwalova Award]
MRSM Group General support
Ok Tedi Mining Prize for Women's Literature [Dame Carol Kidu Award]
PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum Prize for Essays & Journalism [Sean Dorney Award]
Star Mountains Institute of Technology General support
Steamships Prize for Short Stories [Russell Soaba Award]
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office General support
We talked about many things to do with Papua New Guinea, but especially about the Crocodile Prize.
Back in 1969, Drusilla – now an eminent and multi-award winning Australian author – and I shared lectures and tutorial classes at the University of Papua New Guinea.
The great historian Charles Rowley, who had earlier taught me government at ASOPA and was by now foundation professor of political science at the new UPNG, was our mentor.
UPNG features prominently in Drusilla’s recent PNG-based novel, The Mountain (“at once a luminous work of fiction and an anatomy of ideas of light and enlightenment,” said The Australian), selling very well.
The Mountain is not autobiographical, but does make considerable use of her experience at the then newly established UPNG.
And now Drusilla has agreed to be in Port Moresby for the second annual Crocodile Prize Awards on Tuesday 11 September – where she will facilitate a session on writing in the AustAsia Health Services writers’ forum, as well as presenting the Yokomo Prize for Student Writing at the awards ceremony.
Drusilla Modjeska was born in London in 1946, the eldest of three sisters. At 20, she married an anthropologist and together they left for Papua New Guinea. Her years there, from 1968-71, constructed the foundation of an enduring interest in the Pacific and in PNG in particular.
At this time, Drusilla also met the distinguished PNG poet and novelist Russell Soaba, who she remains in touch with and regards as a great friend.
In 1971 Drusilla Modjeska moved to Australia, graduating with a BA(Hons) in history from the Australian National University and a PhD in history from the University of New South Wales.
Then, and I thank the Geraldton (WA) Regional Library for its research, Drusilla began a prolific literary career: Exiles At Home (1981); Poppy (1990); The Orchard (1994); and Stravinsky’s Lunch (1999) along with many other books, and a great deal of university teaching.
In 2004 she was one of the first outsiders to visit the Ömie people, from which The Mountain’s fictional mountain folks are drawn.
Drusilla now returns to PNG frequently, and has become closely involved with two communities – one on the mountain, the other in the fjords of Cape Nelson that also feature in fictional form in The Mountain.
In 2011 Drusilla co-founded the SEAM Fund – Sustain Education Art Melanesia – in response to her experience with these communities, both of which are engaged with the fundamental challenge to remain rooted in their culture and environment while at the same time being part of the modern post-colonial world.
Drusilla is based in Sydney, but makes regular visits to Papua New Guinea and spends time each year in London.
Drusilla is a wonderful asset for the Crocodile Prize. And on Sunday, just before the head waiter switched off the restaurant lights, she also became an honorary member of the PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers.
If the 2011 competition can be described as ‘ground-breaking’, I think this year’s effort might aptly be called a ‘watershed’. All up we had 576 entries from 135 entrants.
By far the biggest category was poetry, with 353 entries. These ranged from free-flowing prose to closely-crafted and structured verse forms. I think Russell Soaba is to blame for the latter. There was also a smattering of very interesting experimental poetry and some which relied on visual effects.
During the course of the competition we have uncovered several accomplished and significant poets. Papua New Guinea just might be one of the most poetic nations in the world. Why this is so still puzzles me.
There were 73 short stories. This is a category that seems to take off slowly and then build up as the year progresses. There were entries from our old 2011 favourites as well as a heartening batch of new writers. Several of the latter displayed remarkable talents.
This is my favourite category and it pains me that there are no real outlets for these writers in Papua New Guinea. That is a national disgrace, not only for the government but for private enterprise too. I’m still scratching my head about what can be done about it.
We also had a diverse range of 61 essays. By far the most popular topic is politics and the failures of the Papua New Guinea government. I guess the politicians are playing their part in the competition by supplying bizarre background material for the writers.
Coming a close second as a theme is the frustrating inability of the Australian government to come to terms with PNG. After that there is a range of topics related to the environment, rapacious miners, women and children’s rights, the lack of rural development, PNG’s place in the world, the ‘Melanesian Way’, the ethics of selling buai, sorcery, tribal warfare, Bougainville and so on.
The essay category, like last year, managed to surprise me by its contrariness and left-field expositions. I can very honestly say I’ve learned a lot from reading these entries and changed my views about PNG at several levels. One would be foolish to say that there is not a healthy political and social debate going on in Papua New Guinea.
One of the gratifying things about the entries, unlike social media in Papua New Guinea, has been the willingness of entrants to put their names to their work. A real name under the title of an essay gives it a clout unmatched by cowardly and silly pseudonyms.
I think we owe our 2011 luminaries - like Martyn Namorong, Nou Vada, Reg Renagi, David Kitchnoge, Michael Dom, Sil Bolkin, Jeffrey Febi, Leonard Fong Roka, Francis Nii and Gelab Piak - a debt in this respect. This year, however, the ladies seem to be leading the charge.
BY REGINA DORUM
MOST OF US TAKE THIS COMPUTER AGE for granted. I couldn’t help but admire those authors from the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Man, talk of using typewriters and handwriting drafts! It must have been a pretty mega headache with more time spent on dictionaries and libraries.
They are hardworking and committed people and we the current generation must appreciate their work fully and truly. For such men as Vincent Eri, Sir Paulias Matane, Sir Albert Maori Kiki, Dr John Waiko, Sir Ignatius Kilage, John Kasaipwalova, Russell Soaba and others where English is but a second language, I cannot help but admire them.
As Papua New Guineans, we truly should be proud of them. They thought and thought and searched and searched. The library became their home and the dictionary their bible. The countless hours of work they did for us, their future generations, so we could have an insight into their lives and appreciate their work.
I always thought that writing a book is easy, just like reading it—especially fiction. Now I will never look at it the same way again. You simply have to appreciate every word written, its uses in descriptive writing that captures your imagination and draw the authors view into your mind.
Most times when I read books, I just read for the story that it tells but not with a writer’s eyes. I never really valued their evocative words that embed the picture into my mind.
Now that I am almost in the middle of my book, I went back to re-reading my novels— this time with a writer’s eyes— and I am overwhelmed with the play of words and their proficiently in the turns and twist of events.
The first time I entered the Crocodile Prize, I mentioned that anyone can be a writer, but I take back those words. Anyone can, but you have to learn and grow each time you write.
You have to put your thinking caps on and express yourself in a way that your readers will fully comprehend what your intentions are. Anyone can be a writer, but then, not just anyone. It takes a lot of self-discipline and courage and a lot of brain-wrecking moments.
When I started writing my book, I just wrote as the words came and I was sort of full of pride—at first. But then as I wrote on, pressure built up. I had to research to describe everything from my character’s clothes to their houses to food to everything that we take for granted.
Man, it was hell of a job and still is. Sometimes I would stare into space for hours just thinking and looking a bit lost, even in between conversation. My friends thought I was on my way to Laloki Mental Institute!
I went back on re-reading my books; I found out that my first ten thousand words were rubbish! Yes, I got the story, but hell, I was not descriptive enough! I had to re-read, rewrite and re-read and re-write! And as I wrote on, new characters entered and my location changed and villages had to be made into cities and east had to be west! Directions and maps gave me the biggest headache.
From one article I read on writer’s guidelines, there are no laws when you write a fiction. You can write whatever you please but you cannot lie or break your own rules either. Some things had to be true so that you capture your reader’s attention and make them want to find out more. I had to make my characters and their lives real and it is very frustrating.
Once I was reading a Stephen King novel and at the end, he gave insights into being a writer. He mentioned how he had to write his drafts thirty times to finally get it right. God help me if I will write my book thirty times! I have not even completed the first draft!
I would like to thank the writers of the past for this inspiration and hope that many Papua New Guineans use the opportunity we have and be like them, or even greater. And I would like to express my sincere gratitude to PNG Attitude for giving us modern and young PNG writers inspiration and assistance. No dream is bigger than us.
You play with words, in your minds.
So that we may comprehend
You wrote them down
So that we may recollect
You put inspiration into our hearts
So that we can be like you
You sat up sleepless hours
So that your dreams may come into life
Now you are our shining star
So we are grateful
BY KEITH JACKSON
Prominent Australian author, Drusilla Modjeska [pictured] - whose recent PNG-based novel The Mountain has met with great acclaim – will be in Papua New Guinea for the awards.
Once again the Prize will offer a full day of activity including the AustAsia Pacific Health Services Writers Forum, the awards ceremony and a reception hosted by the Australian High Commission.
The first annual general meeting of the PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers will also be held and a new constitution adopted.
Through the High Commission, Ms Modjeska has been invited to facilitate a master class for emerging PNG writers and to present one of the awards.
This year the Prize offers awards in seven categories – short stories, essays & journalism, poetry, heritage literature, student writing and women’s literature as well as a lifetime achievement award for a prominent Papua New Guinean writer.
Hundreds of entries have been received from about 150 contributors to the contest, which offers total prize money of K35,000. The final date for entries is just over a week away - Thursday 31 May.
BY KEITH JACKSON
The Office is the bureau of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Queensland, and is headed by Director-General Wen-cheng Sung [pictured with me], one of the most experienced diplomats in Australia to specialise in South Pacific affairs.
Also in attendance was an elite group of Australians well known for their support of Papua New Guinea – Sean Dorney, Laurence Quinlivan and Murray Bladwell – and the senior director of TECO in Brisbane, Kuo-Ting Tan.
Director-General Sung was born in the mid 1950s in Quemoy, an island just off the coast of Communist China, but in Taiwanese territory.
His experiences as a young child were of a homeland under siege.
Half a million artillery shells fell on tiny Quemoy in the two wars in the region in the 1950s; so many that today they are dug up and recycled for use in the manufacture of high quality household cutlery.
(Swords shall be ploughshares and all that.)
In receiving the cheque from Mr Sung, I reflected that the donation of funds for the Crocodile Prize was symbolic of the friendship between Taiwan, Papua New Guinea and Australia – all great democracies.
I reciprocated the donation by presenting Mr Sung with a copy of the 2011 Crocodile Prize anthology and assuring him that the $1,000 would be used to print as many as 300 copies of this year’s collection of the best PNG writing which will be published in September.
And, from a personal viewpoint, it was a sheer delight to see the Taiwanese government step in to assist the Prize when the Australian International Cultural Council (a branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs) had turned its back on what is widely regarded as a major cultural initiative in PNG.
BY RUSSELL SOABA
PHIL’S ARTICLE, Trusting crocodiles and other beasties, led me into thinking if the Ern Malley phenomenon would be in any way similar to the type of poetry that is being published today in the “writers’ forum” of the National’s Weekender supplement.
There is an enormous amount of pseudonymity involved in this process and this for a serious researcher in literature can become worrisome sometimes, especially if the researcher’s aim is to know as much of Papua New Guinea literature as possible.
I cite several of these poems as published in the National Weekender with brief commentaries and leave the rest to the reader.
by Manayo Bagodu
But only when you
want her physically
But only when you
want her advice
She’s a business partner
But only when you
want her signature
She’s a companion
But only when you
have time to spare
She’s a listener
But only when you
want to verbally abuse her
She’s a champion
But only when she does
Something to promote you
She’s a woman
But only when
you think she is
How inconvenient for you
[Published National Weekender Friday 28 October 2011]
The poem is said to have been written by Manyo Bagodu but there is a possibility it might have been written by another. Notice the tone of voice in presentation. It almost sounds reflective of Robyn Kosam’s poem, Awakening.
My problem with this poem is that when I was with The National newspaper as a columnist, I asked after the author and the author’s bio details if possible but no one there said they knew who the poet was. I tried the editor, but a change of subject in discussion was the closest I could get.
That left me with the intriguing thought that the poem had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the promotion of PNG literature and that it probably was too personal for me to critique as literature. Then, upon reflection, why publish it at all?
By Beoi Badiba (in the Motu language ‘be oi badiba’ means “you know whom I’m talking about”)
A man of status
Younger by thirty six
Upon cushions cast carelessly
On an office floor, messy
His want is urgent
Her needs unmet
She leaves in haste
His life now a waste
All but forgotten
By his ever loyal woman
What is six minutes bliss
To six years of genuine friendship
[Published Friday 4 November 2011]
BY PHIL FITZPATRICK
We can edit or reject entries if we think they are offensive or libellous but we don’t, and can’t, know whether what people submit is actually their own work.
This was brought home to me recently when a student essay for the Yokomo Prize added a note which said, “My Dad helped me with this essay”.
This lovely and guileless addendum also noted that Dad was a subsistence farmer and a high school dropout (I think Dad inserted that part).
Occasionally we get entries that either plagiarise other people’s work or are outright transcriptions of other people’s publications. Mostly these are easy to pick but, no doubt, we’ve missed a few. Luckily we’ve got some very switched on judges.
To date we have taken all this in our stride. A polite return email or letter usually sees the suspect entry re-written or withdrawn.
A conversation that I was having via email with one of our learned judges the other day alerted me to another possibility for concern. This is where someone uses the competition and particularly the publication of entries on PNG Attitude for nefarious political or personal reasons. You may have noticed a few of these in relation to articles on logging.
At the end of World War II a couple of well-known Australian poets caused a stir with the so-called Ern Malley Affair. In brief, they evolved an intense dislike for a poetry magazine called Angry Penguins run by a young ‘upstart’ called Max Harris.
They particularly disliked Max’s perchance for modernist poetry so one afternoon they concocted a gladbag of ‘modernist poetry’ by taking chunks of prose at random from, among other things, an army manual, and cobbling it all together in some 17 poems, which they sent to Max. They even invented a plausible background for the conveniently deceased Ern Malley.
Max fell for it and published the poems. The subsequent public exposure and ridicule contributed to the closure of the magazine, left a lasting negative impression on modernist poetry and left both poets gloating. It also introduced a perpetual uneasiness among publishers in Australia.
The irony of the whole affair is that some of the poems were quite good. Incidentally, a lot of the poems submitted to the Crocodile Prize could be classified as modernist.
We’ve made it clear all along that we don’t mind if work submitted to the competition and subsequently published in PNG Attitude is picked up and used by other people and publishers, as long as the authors are consulted and agree and the Crocodile Prize is given due credit.
We think this is a great way to promote Papua New Guinean literature and to dispel the idea that reading material necessarily has to have a price and be purchased.
At the same time, however, we realise that by being so open and liberal we are extremely vulnerable, both personally and legally. You know the old adage: it only takes one idiot to spoil it for everyone else.
We trust our writers and our readers to do the right thing by us. We cannot do anything else but hope this is reciprocated.
BY PHIL FITZPATRICK
IN RUNNING THE CROCODILE PRIZE competition, one of the things we receive in abundance, apart from the deluge of entries, is praise. People tell us it is a great thing that we are doing for Papua New Guinea.
I’m as inclined as anyone else to lap this up and quietly preen about it but when I sober up and put it in perspective I realise that it is actually a two-way street. I’m getting as much out of it as I am giving and so too, I hope, are our readers.
Obviously one of the things I’m getting is the opportunity to read some great literature (and some not so great literature too) but there are other gains that are not immediately obvious or so tangible.
One of the most significant and subtle gains has been the gradual diminishment of the sense of what is sometimes called “the other”. This is that nagging awareness that we Australians and Papua New Guineans are somehow irrevocably different. I’m sure it affects Papua New Guineans as much as it does Australians. There are positive aspects to being different but there are many more negatives involving such elements as arrogance, prejudice, racism, intolerance, you name it.
I’m fairly easy going and I like to think that I mix reasonably well when I’m in Papua New Guinea but at the end of the day, or week, or month, I inevitably retire into my comfortable European cocoon, be it a tent, hotel, house or simple frame of mind. I’ve always envied those few people, like Carol Kidu, who seem to have come pre-armed with a total lack of this sense.
One of the things that got me thinking about this was the acute intelligence that I encountered in both the entries and at the workshop last year. I’m white, he/she is black but he/she is one hell of a lot smarter than me! I’d suggest that a lot of Australians in Papua New Guinea have yet to admit to this possibility. The reverse is also true, I’m black, he/she is white but I’m one hell of a lot smarter than him/her – fancy that!
Another thing relates to empathy. This is something that is sometimes hard to detect in Papua New Guinea. The lack of it is all too obvious in the way men treat women ,for instance.
Despite having been a rough and tough kiap in a previous life I’m actually a big sook. Something that used to tug at my heartstrings was the appalling attitude to animals in many villages, from starving and diseased dogs (as distinct from lean hunting animals) to the old highlander casually plucking fur for his wig from a live cuscus.
Then along comes along something like Kirsten Ipi Aria’s anguished poem about the green turtle at Koki market. A small thing but it speaks volumes. There are other entries before that, young men writing poems of tribute to their canine friends for example. These are sentiments which are common to many people, no matter where they live. After all, we are all just human beings; it’s just that recognising that fact is sometimes hard to do.
There is a lot more to this “other” thing of course; many would see it as a typical colonial manifestation and hangover, which is undoubtedly true. I’m not sure I want to debate that however, best leave it to people wiser than me like Martyn Namorong.
So what does all this esoteric palaver mean?
It means that the entries in the competition are far from being mere attempts at recognition by Papua New Guinean writers from some sort of “superior” source. They are, in fact, gifts to our readers, both in Australia and Papua New Guinea. They are gifts of understanding and friendship but, most of all, of commonality. For this, I for one am grateful.
These great people are sponsoring THE CROCODILE PRIZE
Steamships Short Story Award; Moore Printing Poetry Award; PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum Essay & Journalism Award; Ok Tedi Mining Women's Literature Award; British American Tobacco (PNG) Award for Lifetime Contribution to Literature; Cleland Family Award for Heritage Literature; Chalkies' Yokomo Award for Student Writing; AustAsia Pacific Health Services Writers Forums; Australian High Commission; MRSM Group; Star Mountains Institute of Technology
Get into it! A unique memento of Papua New Guinea
(with a big whack going to the Crocodile Prize)
JIM MOORE’S FAMOUS PNG TEE-SHIRT
$45 (inc p&p) - $20 to the Prize Fund
CLICK THROUGH TO THE ORDER FORM HERE
Featuring the flags of all Provinces
BY PHIL FITZPATRICK
This style has persisted and evolved to the present time. It is very much apparent in the work that many writers are submitting to the Crocodile Prize.
It is also a recognisable and established style that sits comfortably beside its African, South American and Pacific Island brothers and sisters. It is a legacy that Vincent Eri and his fellow writers have left to the nation.
The Vincent Eri Crocodile Prize for Literature demonstrates that Papua New Guinean literature is alive and well and has been so since those early days. The only thing that has been missing is outlets for its writers.
Publishing opportunities to make that necessary connection between writers and readers.
Recognition of those early pioneering writers, some of whom, like Russell Soaba, are still going strong, is what prompted the organisers of the competition to name it The Crocodile Prize after that first novel.
It is also the reason why we used a modified version of the cover of the novel for the first anthology published in 2011. That cover was a way of paying homage to those pioneering writers of the 1970s.
Unfortunately it has also left us with a dilemma for the 2012 and subsequent anthologies. Should we stick with the same cover design or look for something else that is more representative of the modern era?
As the 2012 competition moves into its final two months (the deadline for entries is at the end of May), I have been asking people I meet in Australia and Papua New Guinea what they think about how the anthology will look. The consensus seems to be that we need a change.
To this end we are going to award a small prize of K500 for a new cover design.
We have had a very good offer from Papua New Guinea’s Moore Printing who tendered for the printing of the 2012 anthology. Their offer also includes a K10,000 sponsorship of the Poetry Prize which will be deducted their already competitive quote.
We will need the new cover design to Moore Printing by the end of May. If you have a design or artwork for a new cover you can submit it directly to Amanda Donigi, the interim Executive Officer of the PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers.
You can email Amanda here for submissions or more details.
BY KEITH JACKSON
THOUSANDS OF PAPUA NEW GUINEANS will not be able to read stories and poems written by their own writers due to a short-sighted decision by the Australian government not to provide funds for printing the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2012.
And two workshops in regional PNG designed to provide skills to emerging Papua New Guinean writers have had to be cancelled for the same reason.
After the Cultural Diplomacy Section of the Australian foreign affairs department said that the $31,000 funding application to support the Crocodile Prize “clearly has merit” and offered “to assist with it”, the result was that we were fobbed off in a form letter from Amanda (“please note that I do not work on Wednesdays and Fridays”) Panayotau – of the same section.
Knock-backs are not uncommon to those of us who deal constantly with bureaucrats, but – given the nature of the project – this was an especially stupid and uncomprehending one.
The funding proposal, accompanied by a comprehensive revenue and expenditure budget, sought a subsidy to produce 5,000 copies of the anthology for distribution through PNG schools, government offices and resources companies at minimal or no cost to the recipient.
Rationale: the people of Papua New Guinea are entitled to be able to read their own literature.
The proposal also sought travel and accommodation for 50 writers to participate in forums in Goroka and Madang (the Port Moresby workshop is privately funded) and the same for two program directors to travel to PNG to facilitate the workshops and the inaugural general meeting of the PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers.
Rationale: Papua New Guinea needs to ensure the sustainability of its own literature.
In 2012 the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby, for the second year running, has committed $2,500 to the Prize, despite limited discretionary funds, and it also does the best it can to assist the prize through ‘in-kind’ activity like providing facilities.
But the failure of the Australian government at a broader level to fund book production is a blow to Papua New Guinean writers and readers alike.
The anthology is a unique compilation of the best writing in PNG, where a national literature is experiencing something of a revival after 35 years thanks to the initiation of the Crocodile Prize.
DFAT’s refusal to provide funds to print the book, despite manifestly having the means to do so, is a crime against PNG culture.
And it makes a total mockery of parliamentary secretary Richard Marles’ professed commitment to the Australia-PNG relationship.
The photograph shows the company’s finance director, Eddie Ruha, handing the cheque to Amanda Donigi, executive officer of the Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers.
Mr Ruha said Steamships is delighted to associate itself with a project that rewarded Papua New Guinean writers.
“I believe the Crocodile Prize is working to strengthen and enhance Papua New Guinea’s national literature,” he said.
“The organisers tell me they expect up to 400 stories to be submitted for judging in 2012 and that about 50 of these will be published in book form.
“We understand how thrilling it is for writers to have the opportunity to be published and for readers to access stories that speak to the themes, issues and culture from Papua New Guinea.”
Co-founder of the Crocodile Prize, Keith Jackson AM, speaking from Sydney, welcomed Steamships’ participation, calling it “a great day for Papua New Guinean writers”.
“Steamships is one of PNG’s iconic companies,” he said, “and it’s wonderful to have them associated with such a pioneering national project.”
Mr Jackson said Steamships’ sponsorship will ensure both that the winning author receives a large cash prize and that the print-run of the Crocodile Prize book will reach its target of 10,000 copies.
“The aim of the Prize is both to motivate writers and to ensure Papua New Guinean readers have access to their own literature.
“Steamships and our other sponsors are making a great contribution to the nation.”
CHALKIES YOKOMO PRIZE FOR STUDENT WRITING – K5,000
The Yokomo Crocodile Prize is offered for story, poem or essay:
-- with a length of 500 words or less
-- written by a primary or high school student in 2012
-- on a theme about Papua New Guinea.
The prize money will be shared equally between the student and his/her school
TELL YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL ABOUT THIS!
Entries close at the end of May. Further information here
BY REGINA DORUM
Regina Dorum is the latest writing talent to emerge in Papua New Guinea. Last Saturday, we published her maiden short story in PNG Attitude – and there will be a second in the next few days. Regina wrote the following words in a letter to chief judge of the Crocodile Prize, Phil Fitzpatrick. I felt they should be reproduced here - KJ
DEAR PHIL, YOU HAVE SAID YOURSELF that my short stories are very compelling and I am glad because that was my aim.
Almost all my stories don’t have any happy endings because they are all inspired by factual events which know will not end happily unless there is a divine intervention!
Yes, there are hostesses in night clubs and sex workers do live in containers on the wharf and are abused on daily basis. Most of these are young girls between the ages of 15 and 25.
There are homeless children begging in the streets of Port Moresby and young seven year olds and five year olds drinking home brew and smoking marijuana.
I have witnessed all these events and have had the chance to talk with these women and children. Yes, there are businessmen who cause family problems and wealthy and good families destroyed by HIV and AIDS and alcohol related violence and abuse.
Girls and young women are being forced into prostitution by their relatives or are sold to businessmen at ages as young as twelve years of age or are abused by their relatives by making them work as slaves while their own children are well cared for.
I have interviewed them, seen them and pitied them but I could do nothing about it. I only managed to tell people who were willing to listen and what they all say is, ‘Oh my, we are so sorry for them but we have our own problems too.’
I hope that instead of telling them as it is, I have written stories that will make people wake up and realise that this is really happening and what must be done by certain authorities.
And I hope that politicians who can read make time to read these stories and put their own women and children into the shoes of my characters. That should change their mind about pocketing the people’s money and making good use of it.
And for those politicians who does not know how to read, (which is true, once a politician was caught reading a newspaper upside down!), I wish I could make movies for them!
For people who do not know PNG culture might be tempted to blame our problems on our multi-cultural society. However, we are Melanesians and there is one thing common to the thousand cultures that we have and that is: We take care of what is ours.
If we had forgotten our culture, we will be as worse as the African nations. Our culture is the only thing that is still holding PNG families together, otherwise, we are done for.
However, our culture is also fading due to the rapid change from stone-age to the computer-age. I pray and hope that our government and people in authority can wake up to this silent call I make on behalf of our children, to look and see that we are suffering.
Give us public schools with no fees. Job opportunities for drop outs and graduates. Orphanages for homeless children and shelter for abused children.
Thank you very much for this opportunity and now I feel more enlightened to the fact that I can do something for these children with your help.
And again, I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I love writing them because I wrote from my heart.
Regina Dorum (25) comes from Mount Hagen. She is a chemist with a gold mining company in Port Moresby. She began her interest in reading in Grade 5 when she was 11 and is a fan of fantasy novels and authors like Dean Koonz, Stephen King, David Eddings and Diana Gabaldon. Last year, she thought 'why not write, anyone can write', and surprised herself by writing 20,000 words of an epic fantasy that she hopes will become a trilogy.
THE STEAMSHIPS PRIZE FOR SHORT STORIES – K5,000
The Steamships Crocodile Prize is offered for short stories:
-- of an indicative length of 1,500 words or less
-- written by a citizen of Papua New Guinea
-- on a theme of interest to a general readership.
Entries close at the end of May. Further information here
BY KEITH JACKSON
THE 2012 CROCODILE PRIZE is turning out to be a rip-roaring success.
So much so that chief judge Phil Fitzpatrick, just back from Papua New Guinea, has been overwhelmed by entries in all five creative categories.
As attentive readers will know, I’ve been travelling in South America and communications have not always been easy.
But I do know that nearly two weeks ago 208 entries had been received and, since then, according to Phil, “they are pouring in now and I’m having trouble keeping up”.
The breakdown of entries two week ago showed there were 137 poems, 25 essays, 23 short stories, 14 student entries and nine heritage stories.
The Crocodile Prize - Papua New Guinea’s National Awards for Literature - is an initiative of PNG Attitude and the PNG Post-Courier.
It offers K35,000 in prize money and publishes the best PNG writing in an annual anthology.
There is a K5,000 cash award & Crocodile Trophy for the winner of each category:
Cleland Prize for Heritage Literature
Steamships Prize for Short Stories
PNG Chamber of Mines Prize for Essays & Journalism
Chalkies' Yokomo Prize for Student Writing
Ok Tedi Mining Prize for Women's Literature
The Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers Poetry Prize
British American Tobacco (PNG) Prize for Lifetime Literary Achievement
Entries close on 31 May. Further information, including the entry form, here.
BY KEITH JACKSON
GU XIAOFENG IS AN ADMINISTRATOR at the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) in Melbourne, and a colleague of PNG Attitude and Crocodile prize stalwart, Ed Brumby
As Ed says: “Xiaofeng has absolutely no connection to PNG except through my various tales and has been inspired, I guess, by my enthusiasm for what the Prize represents and will do to foster the further literary development of a nation.”
Now Xiaofeng has donated her New Year laisee gift of $500 to the Chalkies’ Yokomo Crocodile Prize.
The laisee is a gift of money that Chinese elders give to youngsters at New Year, usually in red envelopes (hong bao).
Ed says that Xiaofeng is his 'right arm' at the International Division of ANZIIF – an extremely capable administrator, organiser, relationship manager and problem solver, not to mention her translation and interpreting abilities.
And she’s keen reader and would-be writer.
Here at PNG Attitude we’re delighted at this magnificent gesture by Xiaofeng to assist the development of a creative writing culture in a country she has never seen and for a people she has never met.
By way of thanks, we’ve made her an honorary member of the PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers which, in the circumstances, seemed the least we could do.
And a reminder of the Crocodile Prize bank details if you would like to make a donation:
Account name: SPSS The Crocodile
BSB: 633 000
Account number: 141 021 527
And don’t forget to email me here and let me know
BY KEITH JACKSON
And the members are you, the writers of PNG.
Papua New Guinean writers, editors and publishers are able to join the Society free of charge and can apply on the Membership Application Form or answering the questions on the form in an email.
Send your email application to join the Society to me here.
You should apply for your free membership now and join an organisation which promises to become a real force in the development of creative writing in PNG.
For non-Papua New Guineans associate membership is available at an annual membership fee of $A50.
The Society’s objectives include the promotion of a writing and reading culture in PNG, the development of professional writers, editors and publishers, and assisting members to publish their work.
The Society will also take over the administration of the Crocodile Prize literary contest at its first annual general meeting to be held in September this year.
At present the Society is run by a small steering committee with a full board to be elected at September’s AGM, which will also adopt a new constitution (you can download the interim constitution here).
Steering Committee: Amanda Donigi, Managing Editor, Pacific Islands Publishing (Executive Officer); David Kitchnoge, Manager, Deloitte PNG (Member); Jim Drekore, Analytical Chemist, Lihir Gold Ltd (Member), Keith Jackson AM, Publisher & Editor, PNG Attitude (Joint Director); Phil Fitzpatrick, Director, South Pacific Social Solutions (Joint Director and Treasurer); Ruth Moiam, Public Diplomacy Coordinator, Australian High Commission (Member)