THESE are the trophies that, in September, will travel from their place of manufacture in south-east Queensland to the Papua New Guinea highlands to be presented to the winners of this year’s Crocodile Prize.
Along with K5,000 prize money in each of the eight award categories, travel and accommodation to the event at Kundiawa and guaranteed publication in the 2015 Anthology, they represent the reward for outstanding talent and effort.
As you can see from the statistics at the top of this home page, with about seven weeks to go to its 30 June closing date, the Prize is closing in on 500 entries.
There are still some categories which are rather light-on for entries (and thus where the competition is not so intense) and these should be attracting the attention of more writers.
After an absence from the pages on PNG Attitude for quite a few months, it was good to see Martyn Namorong roaring back into life in April with some incisive and confronting writing.
Martyn’s recent move from Port Moresby to Mt Hagen coincided with the first anniversary of the establishment of the Simbu Writers Association, just down the road. Some synergies will surely be created should these two forces of nature enter a collaboration.
Despite some rumblings and grumblings from other parts of PNG over the last year, the SWA is the only active group promoting PNG literature at a provincial level.
The sustainability of the current surge, now in its fifth year, is dependent upon the leading PNG writers adding the management of a literary culture to their obvious talents on the keyboard.
Otherwise the second great flourishing of written PNG literature, including the Crocodile Prize, could, like the first around Independence, flicker once more into a feeble flame.
Now to those articles, stories, poems and illustrations that most captivated readers’ attention, comment and approval during April.
MOST COMMENTED UPON IN APRIL
22 comments - The band-aid isn’t working: More good radicals needed in PNG (Martyn Namorong). This article neatly complements my previous comment about the future of the current literary revival. Maryn wrote: “The people who bring development build our roads and bridges and schools but what happens once they’ve packed up and left. The band-aid is revealed.” The band-aid is what you have left when development is extrinsic and never entrenches itself within its host. Perhaps more radicals are needed in PNG – but so are more people who will take the talk and do something with it. Like the SWA….
20 comments - Australia's dwindling moral authority in PNG (Mark Evenhuis). Mark posited that the use of Manus as a dumping ground for asylum seekers who are primarily Australia’s responsibility is costing Australia credibility and authority with PNG’s intellectuals and future leaders. I’d go further than Mark and say that the Manus agreement is corrupting of both countries and the sooner its expunged the better.
17 comments - I will be asking your foreign God for a refund on the bible (Martyn Namorong). “So that 400 year old story book about a zombie has finally arrived in Papua New Guinea with a rousing welcome from part-time Christians and corrupt politicians,” wrote Martyn of the over-the-top ceremonials that greeted the landfall in Port Moresby of the King James Version of the Bible from, of all places, Indiana. Martyn continued: “I wonder what the man Jesus would think about spending thousands of kina on a junket trip to the United States whilst children beg for food on the streets of Port Moresby and Lae.” Vintage Manorong.
17 comments - Is it time to recognise gay rights in PNG? (Phil Fitzpatrick). Of the many vexed issues in PNG, homosexuality would be right up there somewhere near the top. It’s a subject that most Papua New Guineans would walk a long way to avoid confronting. But that never stopped Phil Fitzpatrick. “It makes me wonder why homosexuality is still unlawful in PNG. After all, it was a practice that was acceptable in many traditional cultures. The reason most posited is that PNG is a Christian country, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense when you look at what is happening in other Christian countries.”
15 comments - The allure of those trusty old Papuan work boats (Phil Fitzpatrick). Here was an opportunity for Phil, and a number of other readers, to wallow in nostalgia, and it wasn’t missed. “I have no idea how old they were or where they were built. The Jade was kitted out in white livery with dark green trim. The interior was painted a beige-come-brown colour. She had a cabin of sorts for the Kiwai skipper and his crew of one and a solid overhead canopy that ran back from the wheelhouse to the stern with canvas awnings on the side that could be lowered in inclement weather.”
15 comments - A story demanding to be told: Meet Amos Nepehi (John Kaupa Kamasua). Amos is a cleaner at the University of PNG. An unpretentious man in an unpretentious job, but one he does with commitment and style. John Kamasua decided his story should be told as an example of dedication to the job, the institution and the nation.
14 comments - Conservation – Melanesia’s neglected community value (Tanya Zeriga-Alone). “The thrust of conservation should not be about nature, but about changing people’s attitudes toward nature,” writes Tanya, who also asks what happened to the tens of millions of dollars PNG was given for projects in biodiversity and climate change. “Conservation in Melanesia and in PNG should be about education that makes the link between people and the consequences of their actions on their natural resources; actions that will eventually impact upon their livelihood.”
13 comments - In which I ask readers to contribute to a roundtable.... (Keith Jackson). During April the Lowy Institute participated in a roundtable event entitled PNG in 2015: At a crossroads and beyond. I asked readers for their views on PNG’s future and improving people-to-people relations between Australia and PNG. As soon as the Chatham House rule stricture is lifted from my shoulders, I’ll be reporting back.
12 comments - 285 shades of red (Derrick Dusava). A rollicking romp of a story most of which takes place on a Port Moresby bus. It was Derrick’s first outing in PNG Attitude and we hope to see much more from a writer of great talent who really knows how to deploy his wonderful sense of comedy. Great insights for anyone wanting to sue public transport in the national capital.
12 comments - Manus - ugly Australian self-interest but not a concentration camp (Chris Overland). “Critics of the Australian government's policy on asylum seekers, led by the Greens Party, have condemned the PNG government for being complicit in the operation of what they regard as a ‘concentration camp’ on Manus Island,” wrote Chris. “The Australian government has been described as losing its moral authority in PNG as a consequence of its policy.” A follow up to Evenhuis’s piece (above) and it sure attracted a lively correspondence.
MOST LIKED IN APRIL
89 likes - The band-aid isn’t working: More good radicals needed in PNG (Martyn Namorong)
31 likes - PNG’s sporting revolution – we never had it so good (Benny Geteng)
30 likes - Torn between two worlds (Emmanuel Landu)
22 likes - Evil of capital punishment: Bishops pronounce on death penalty (Bishop Arnold Orowae)
21 likes - That an old bible in parliament can transform PNG is a fraud (David Ephraim)
19 likes - Unexpected secret: two sisters; same boyfriend (Jimmy Awagl)
16 likes - I will be asking your foreign God for a refund on the bible (Martyn Namorong)
15 likes - Australia's dwindling moral authority in PNG (Mark Evenhuis)
15 likes - Reading culture is declining in PNG educational institutions (Jimmy Awagl)
14 likes - Keep off our turf: Momis warns PNG about buying control of BCL (Autonomous Bougainville Government)
14 likes - The constraints of Bougainville’s ‘old-man-knows-it-all’ politics (Leonard Fong Roka)
14 likes - A story demanding to be told: Meet Amos Nepehi (John Kaupa Kamasua)