The Crocodile Prize is the annual national literary competition for Papua New Guinea (PNG) writers. Our people are traditional story-tellers and we preserve our culture through oral history. This space is for contemporary PNG writers to find the PNG Voice by engaging, sharing, learning and telling their stories.
Caption: EMTV footage showing children in the National Book Week activities.
The Crocodile Prize Association Inc committee members and authors Baka Bina, Emmanuel Peni and Marlene Dee Gray Potoura are taking part in and promoting reading and writing in the PNG National Book Week this week.
Author of “Sibona” Mr Peni yesterday visited and spoke to 600 Grade 8 students at Ward Strip Demonstration school. He will return tomorrow to address the whole school. Tomorrow, Committee executive and three-time PNG author Mr Bina will address the Tokarara High School tomorrow and Marlene Dee Gray Potoura will address the Book Week assembly in Salvation Army School in Lae. It is hoped that the committee members whilst promoting the importance of reading to PNG children, the authors can also share personal stories about how much writing is just as important as reading.
It is also an opportunity for the committee to promote the national literary competition, particularly the Young Writer’s Award in the Crocodile Prize and answer any queries from the future writers.
The committee this year has been particularly vocal about the importance to develop a strong PNG voice in stories written by national writers. The committee sees that the National Book Week is one avenue that voice can be developed through.
The Crocodile Prize Committee 2016 is proud to announce that it is officially an association as of this week. The Competition Committee Vice Chairperson Joycelin Leahy said it is a dream come true for writers in PNG to finally have a proper organisation and a place where the voice of PNG can be developed through literature.
“Having a properly registered organisation means the association can run confidently and transparently and this will boost the government, private sector and donor support for Papua New Guinea writers and the Crocodile Prize competition, ” Ms Leahy said.
She also said becoming registered means the voluntary committee is serious about promoting literature in PNG. “Having an association is a milestone for PNG literature and we are also proud that despite the looming political and economic crisis in PNG, the Crocodile Prize has received immense support from the private sector. And with this small but strong working committee, we will keep the competition running,” Ms Leahy said.
A handful of PNG committee members (Emmanual Peni, Martyn Marorong, Ruth Moaim, Baka Bina and Joycelin Leahy) who had worked tirelessly to promote the competition and seek funding for prizes also contributed their own money to process and register the association. Another PNG author and recently joined committee member Marlene Dee Gray Poutora also contributed to the registration of the association. This is the first step to formalise Crocodile Prize Inc’s activities and the committee hopes that with support, the association will run smoothly, increase writer- participation and build up membership of national writers in PNG and overseas. The Crocodile Prize competition has been running for five years as a voluntary event.
Ms Leahy said the credit for achieving an association status was due to the hard-working committee but credit has to go to Emmanual Peni, an author and a very enthusiastic committee member who worked tirelessly to get all the paper-work processed for the association. “Manu is a writer himself and he knows how hard it is to get work published, how PNG’s own writers are hardly recognised and how little creative writing is appreciated. We are traditional storytellers and our stories and ways of telling them is one educational and cultural heritage we as Papua New Guineans must be proud of, she said.
Ms Leahy said she hopes that the new association can give the committee more power and zest to bring Crocodile Prize competition to every aspiring writer and PNG children who love stories and story-telling”; we want to read and promote your stories – send them in”, Ms Leahy said.
The Crocodile Prize 2016 competition was expected till the end of this month, but due to events in PNG and the process in getting the organisation registered, the competition deadline could be extended. The association is now open to Papua New Guineans to join for a small membership contribution. Please continue to check this blog for more details. Competition submissions can continue to be sent to: crocodile email@example.com
“Every crater, hole, crevice, river…EVERTHING in the village has a story about how it came to be. I heard stories from my matrilineal grandmother who was from Eastern Highlands Province and my patrilineal grandfather, who was from Buin, South Bougainville. My grandmother’s stories were about our ancestors who came from the Solomon Islands. Tambuna stories were shared in front of bonfires every evening and often continued onto the next night. My passion for storytelling came from living a life where storytelling was part of our daily activity” – Marlene Dee Gray Potoura
A writer from Papua New Guinea, Bougainville Island, Marlene this week volunteered and joined the Crocodile Working Committee 2016. The Crocodile Committee 2016 Acting Chairperson Joycelin Leahy welcomed Marlene.
“Marlene is a serious writer and very passionate person about her craft, her stories and her heritage. Her skills and expertise as an educator would also tremendously assist this committee,” Ms Leahy said.
The Crocodile Blog speaks to Marlene about her passion for writing.
“My passion for writing stems from my love for words and sentences. Verbally, I am a great storyteller also. Commonwealth Writers Blog will be publishing a special feature on my personal experience in Bougainville in June, as titled ‘Fugitives.’
I am also writing a Bougainville Memoir as the memories that are imbed in my mind keeps sprouting like fresh flowers. I am a child of the 70s. I didn’t grow up watching TV, playing video games or spent time on cell phones. I sat beside village bonfires and listened to stories from my aunties, uncles and grandparents. Tambuna stories were shared in front of bonfires every evening and often continued on to the next night. My passion for storytelling came from living a life where storytelling was part of our daily activity.
I did written compositions with biros and did the morning talk standing in front of the class, trying my best to speak English among many other PNG dialects I was fluent in. I ritually sang hymns in our village church mornings and evenings; with these lungs, I blew the fire to cook and these hands, I chopped firewood and dug kaukaus to help feed my family.
I was shipped off to Kambubu high school on the outskirts between Pomio and Kokopo, to total isolation. I ate tapioca for lunch and dinner and worked in the farms where my fingers got blistered from pulling out karapa weeds. I was disciplined in Pathfinder Groups, marching in the scorching tropical sun which gave me a permanent double tan. Despite this way of growing up, I am thankful for my upbringing. It was a living story that has added depth to who I am and how I relate to what I write now.
My carefree days from childhood to high school composed of stories, dreams, happiness and freedom. My creativity and imagination was well and truly sown and cultivated from my childhood. I cannot live without storytelling and so when I was choosing a career – I had to choose one that would developed and enhance my passion. Being a teacher is a blessing in disguise and it provides the ultimate platform for teaching, listening, writing and reading stories.
Marlene holds a Bachelor in Education and runs a private school for young children, age 4 to 12 in Lae, Morobe Province.
She writes short stories and children’s stories. Most of Marlene’s stories have been published online on THE PNG ATTITUDE BLOG and in The Crocodile Prize Anthologies 2014 and 2015. Her book of 21 short stories was published in August last year, by PukPuk Publishing.
In the next post, Marlene will share a Tumbuna Stori.
“How flying foxes got their long intestines,’ is a favourite Tumbuna story told to me by my grandmother, Roandi Kauva. Her village was Nonambaro in Watabung, Eastern Highlands Province. (The Tumbuna Story will be posted in the next post)
This post is for all PNG writers intending to enter the 2016 Crocodile Prize. PLEASE READ CAREFULLY.
If you want to take part in the Crocodile Prize this year, you have to visit this blog, http://www.crocodileprize.com or http://www.crocodileprize.org and read as much information as you can. When you decide to enter one of the seven Crocodile Prize 2016 categories, you must label your writing clearly so the entry does not get lost or mixed up with others. Most of the entries the committee has received so far do not even have the writer’s name on the entry itself. Having your name written on the email does not get it on your entry. Some entries do not even have categories they are being entered into.
To assist future submissions, please follow the instructions below carefully and follow the example to submit your entry.
The most important thing to do is to write your title, your full name and category next to that title on the actual entry. You must also attach a copy of the entry form with your full details. The entry forms are on the two websites: www.crocodile prize.com and http://www.crocodile prize.org. The entry form can be downloaded or copied and pasted. Here is an example of how you should submit an entry.
*** MUST BE COMPLETED AND EMAILED TO firstname.lastname@example.org WITHIN 48 HOURS OF SUBMITTING ENTRY ***
NAME: Joycelin Leahy
DATE OF BIRTH:16/03/1965
PLACE OF BIRTH (town/village): I am from Wagang Village, Morobe province. I was born in Wau, Morobe Province.
TITLE OF WRITTEN/ILLUSTRATION ITEM: (as my submission above)
BRIEF BIO(please write a few sentences to introduce yourself to the Crocodile Organising Committee 2016)
I am a Papua New Guinean writer with specific interests in short stories, children’s stories and creative non-fiction (such as memoirs). I write and read daily. I was a trained journalist and later worked in PR, marketing, business development and small business. To improve my writing skills, I like working with other writers and enjoy setting up daily challenges for myself to write short stories with certain plots in limited number of words. Sometimes I would read this to my family and friends and see how they react to the story. I also attend a weekly creative writing workshop with other writers to share and learn about storytelling. I find the best stories I write come from free-writing. Free-writing is when you set up a time (e.g. say for five minutes) I focus, let everything go, and just write down whatever that comes to my mind. Then, I expand, re-write and develop the plot.
WRITING EXPERIENCE ( how long have you been writing? have you written any published books, magazine articles, academic journal articles etc? do you have a Blog – if yes, title?)
I have been writing for over 30 years. I have published short stories and won the Crocodile Prize 2015 Writing for Children category. I also wrote for PNG newspapers and the Paradise Magazine and consultation reports. (Email me on email@example.com for specifics).