Papua New Guinea: A writing heritage
Essay: 35 years on, celebrate & ask questions

Crocodile Prize will encourage PNG writers

Prize Logo A WRITING CONTEST for Papua New Guinean writers was launched today by the PNG Post-Courier and the Australian website, PNG Attitude.

The contest is called THE CROCODILE PRIZE and is named after the first novel written by a Papua New Guinean, The Crocodile by Vincent Eri, which was published in 1970.

The contest has three categories - for short stories, poetry and journalism.

A first prize of K1,000 will be awarded in each category and the Post-Courier will publish the best entries.


“We started the contest to provide an opportunity for PNG writers to publish their work and for readers to have access to that work,” said organiser, author Philip Fitzpatrick.

“Eligible contributions must be written by citizens of Papua New Guinea and they will be judged by a panel of Papua New Guinean and Australian writers.

Mr Fitzpatrick said a number of companies and private individuals had committed funds to support the project, but he hoped it would attract more.

“We want to encourage writers to write and readers to read,” he said.

“This means more than receiving contributions. It means ensuring the winning entries reach a much bigger audience throughout PNG.

“We are working on this with the Post-Courier and the PNG Attitude website.”

The editor-in-chief of the Post-Courier, Blaise Nangoi, said the newspaper was pleased to be involved in the initiative to promote writing among Papua New Guineans and to recognise their skills.

“We know the importance of encouraging writing,” Mr Nangoi said.

“Since the days of Sir Serei Eri, Russel Sorariba, John Kasaipolowa, Nora Vagi Brash and current Governor-General, Sir Paulias Matane, there has been an evident shortage of writers, poets and dramatists in the country.

“We realise the serious need to encourage and expose a new crop of writers and, in that direction, we continue to support young journalism students in the graduate schools of UPNG and Divine Word universities,” he said.

“The Post-Courier is pleased to be part of this new initiative together with PNG Attitude and we will publish the winning entries.

“One of our top feature writers and storytellers, Patrick 'Big Pat' Levo, will be part of the judging panel for this competition.”

The contest winner will be announced each PNG Independence Day from 2011, and entries will be published regularly by the Post-Courier and PNG Attitude.

Sir Vincent Serei Eri (1936-93) was born in Moveave in the Gulf Province and later became Director of Education, PNG’s first Consul General in Australia, a Member of Parliament and Governor-General.

His novel The Crocodile is set in PNG before and during World War II and is a coming of age story about Hoiri, whose life poses a continuing contradiction between traditional life and the modern world.

Further information is on PNG Attitude here


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Phil Fitzpatrick

After the competition has been judged and the prizes awarded in September, we will print all of the entries (stories, poems and journalism) in an anthology.

We haven't quite worked out how this will be done but we are looking at several options.

At this stage we are very much aware that the entries are only being read by people who have access to the internet. It is our aim to produce an anthology as cheaply as possible so that we can distribute it as far as possible, particularly into schools.

We are hoping that we can raise a few more kina from sponsors for the printing.

As an offshoot of the competition we have also seen two full length books emerge. We have found an Australian publisher for one of these and I am currently in the throes of a final edit. We hope to have a category for a novel or full length book in the next competition in 2012.

In the meantime, watch this space.

Judy Warrillow

I am so impressed with the many poems by Papua New Guineans.

I was wondering have they been put into books yet? I would like a fair few to give to friends for presents.

Mi askim tasol.

Laurie Meintjes

Mmmm! I don't know how intrepid this kiap was, but I'll see what I can come up with. Give me a few days.

Reginald Renagi

Laurie - Can we please have some sneak previews of your kiap adventures in the Phantom's Chronicles for readers of PNG Attitude?

I like reading about what bush life/adventure was like for our intrepid kiaps in the last frontiers of an Australian colony.

Laurie Meintjes

It is gratifying to see the many young, and not so young, PNG writers who have risen to the challenge of The Crocodile Prize and sent in their entries.

I have been impressed with the quality of these submissions, and the task of choosing the winning entries will not be an easy one.

However, all of you who have submitted a piece of writing are already winners through the very act of holding up your work to public view.

It takes courage and confidence to do this, and these are important qualities in any one who wishes to become a writer.

Add to this a third quality, the determination to learn as much as you can about the craft of writing, something that will come about as you objectively, and closely, examine your own writing and that of others and continue to develop your writing skills through practice, practice, practice.

Good fortune, and happy writing, to all of you.

Laurie is author of Pretzel Legs, a memoir with a broad sweep of his early life in South Africa and service in PNG as a kiap - KJ

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