Winners’ profiles display the great diversity of PNG

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THE winners of this year’s awards in the Crocodile Prize capture the great diversity of Papua New Guinea and its people.

From an 82 year-old former Governor-General to a 25 year-old health sciences graduate seeking her first job, the scope of today’s PNG is encompassed in the writers who succeeded in being judged at the top of their field in the 2014 awards.

The Simbu Province and the Bougainville Autonomous Region provided two winners each – a good reflection of the state of creative writing in two different and distant places.

Distant in geography that is, but it seems not in the spirit that drives the inspiration and compulsion to write.

Of the seven winners, four were male and three female. As much balance as you can get out of seven.

Overall, the outcome of this year’s Prize could not have been better expressed had it been engineered.

Let’s summarise the profiles of the 2014 prize winners in a convenient table, youngest to oldest:

 Iriani Wanma   25   Children’s   Kairuku CP   Brisbane QLD   Job hunting
 Diddie Jackson   28   Poetry   Mt Hagen WHP   Port Moresby NCD   Admin Officer
 Leonard Roka   35   Book of the Year   Arawa Bougainville   DWU Madang   Student
 Sil Bolkin   41   Essays & Journalism   Kerowagi Simbu   ANU Canberra   Postgrad Student
 Arnold Mundua   50   Heritage   Gembogl Simbu   Kundiawa Simbu   Forestry Officer
 Agnes Maineke   57   Short Story   Siwai Bougainville   Buin Bougainville   Teacher
 Sir Paulias  Matane   82   Lifetime Contribution   Viviran ENB   Kokopo ENB   Ex Governor General

Wanma_IrianiJackson_DiddieLeonard Roka May 2014SilMundua_ArnoldMaineke_AgnesWith_OL


Agnes Maineke wins the People’s Award for Short Stories

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THE People’s Award in the Crocodile Prize emerged from a precipitate and last minute decision by long-term sponsor Steamships to renege on its prior commitment to the short story award.

This forced the organisers to fund the award from money that would otherwise have gone to print books (well done, Steamships) but gave us the opportunity to make the award in the names of all the people who in one way or another have supported PNG Attitude and the Crocodile Prize.

Agnes Maineke, 57, knows real struggle. Indeed, in the south of Bougainville where she lives, telecommunications are still very difficult and it took us some days to notify her of the award. Continue reading


Diddie Kinamun Jackson wins Kina Securities Poetry Award

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AT the heart of much Papua New Guinean writing is a glorious chamber of music and the expression of this musical soul is seen with no greater clarity than in poetry.

Poetry is the form where emotions and truths seem easier to reveal; providing a kind of literary camouflage where matters otherwise difficult to say can be disclosed through metaphor, imagery and the subterfuge of words.

The poetry award has, in the past, been won by Jimmy Drekore, Michael Dom and Lapieh Landu – all eminent writers. And Michael and Jimmy were in there right at the end of this year’s judging, the final selection being a tight decision between some wonderful poets.

In a field nearly 100 writers who produced more than 300 poems for the Kina Securities Award, Diddie Kinamun Jackson, 28, born in Mt Hagen, can feel especially satisfied with taking out the top award for her poem As a Writer. So far as I know, Diddie is not related to me – although she’d make a great cousin. Continue reading


Sil Bolkin wins Chamber of Mines Essay Award

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KELA Kapkora Sil Bolkin, to give him his full handle, consistently produces the goods whenever he sits down to write.

Taking his subject matter from everyday life, he offers keen insights into PNG society and always comes up with stories that are gutsy and newsworthy.

Sil’s been published in all four annual Anthologies of the best PNG writing and now, for the first time, he’s added the esteemed Crocodile Prize to his portfolio.

The PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum Award for Essays and Journalism comes with a trophy and a cash prize of K5,000.

It’s not a bad birthday present – Sil, born in Kundiawa, turns 41 on Friday. Continue reading


Iriani Wanma wins Buk bilong Pikinini Award for Children’s Writing

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THE daughter of parents who come from Kairuku in Central Province and West Papua is the winner of the inaugural Buk bilong Pikinini Award for Children’s Writing in the 2014 Crocodile Prize.

Iriana Wanma is a 25-year old graduate, currently job hunting and living in Brisbane with her family.

She wins a cash prize of K5,000 and a trophy to be presented at the awards event in Port Moresby on Thursday 18 September.

“I graduated last year with a degree in health science,” Iriani told me. “I gave myself a break for six months then started looking for a job. I’m a qualified health promotion officer.”

Iriani’s writing that particularly drew the judges’ attention was the tale of Oa Grasshopper and Kaipa Caterpillar, which she also illustrated and describes as “an educational story about friendship and transformation.” Continue reading


Ok Tedi Mining Book of the Year: Brokenville by Leonard Fong Roka

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LEONARD Fong Roka really needs no introduction to readers ofPNG Attitude.

And now the prolific 35-year old Bougainvillean writer – this year completing a PNG Studies and International relations degree at Divine Word University – has won Papua New Guinea’s first Book of the Year Award for his civil war memoir, Brokenville.


“I salute Ok Tedi Mining and its endeavours in this politically sick PNG climate to aim high for the ordinary people since the greatest thing is for us all to serve humanity in our own ways,” the straight-talking man they call ‘Captain Bougainville’ told me.

“And I thank Ok Tedi and the judges for considering my memoir, Brokenville, a story of a child, a family and a nation of Bougainville.”

Leonard started writing while a Grade 7 student at Arawa High School in 1997.

“We were coerced to write poetry about Bougainville issues by our English teacher, an Eastern Highlander, William Mania,” he said.

Continue reading


Cleland Family Award for Heritage Writing won by Arnold Mundua

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ARNOLD Mundua, 50, winner of this year’s Cleland Family Award for Heritage Writing, was born in pyrethrum country – Gembogl, Simbu, on the slopes of Mt Wilhelm.

He works in the Simbu capital, Kundiawa, not so far from where he was born, in the important role of Provincial Forest Officer.

“I started writing in Madang in 1998,” he told me. “That was when I started the manuscript of my first novel, A Bride’s Price. In 2003, it was published, with the assistance of Sir Paulias Matane, by CBS Publishers & Distributors of India.”

Arnold’s entry in the Heritage Writing Award was a direct outcome of the formation earlier this year of the Simbu Writer’s Association. Continue reading


An accidental publisher: The birth of Pukpuk Publishing

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IN 2010 I wrote a number of articles for a trade magazine about the state of literature in the South Pacific region, including Papua New Guinea.

I sent a modified version of the Papua New Guinea article to Keith Jackson and he published it in PNG Attitude.

My research for the article revealed that the vibrant and dynamic literary scene of 1970s Papua New Guinea was in serious decline.

What little was being published was sporadic and, with a few notable exceptions, of very average quality.

As someone who had watched the burgeoning literary scene in the 1970s, I was filled with dismay.  Tiny nations like Samoa were leading the way while Papua New Guinea seemed to have fallen by the wayside. Continue reading


Editing – it can turn a bowl of old stodge into a real delicacy

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SINCE becoming involved in the Crocodile Prize, and in particular the production of the annual anthology and the spinoff books that we’ve published under thePukpuk Publishing imprint, I’ve had to learn a few skills that I wouldn’t ordinarily have bothered about.

One of these is layout and design and the other is editing, although I still don’t claim to be an expert in either field.

The former has been a matter of trial and error.  Publishing is now very much a digital affair and it is evolving with the technology at a rapid pace.

Continue reading


Simbu gears up for National Literacy Day celebrations

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THE Simbu Writers Association along with Ku High School is gearing up to celebrate National Literacy Day on Monday 8 September when the two entities will host a number of activities involving the province’s 18 upper and lower secondary schools.

The celebrations include a literary competition for Grades 9 – 12 and will run for two weeks leading to the main events at Ku High School.

There will be three categories in the competition: essay, short story and poetry. Each school will submit its five best entries in each category and prizes will be awarded for the top two entries in each category. Continue reading

Literary Awards of Papua New Guinea