Pacific stories – staying alive

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Marj Moore

Two months ago, aspiring writers from around the Pacific, sent in their entries for the 2016 Samoa Observer Tusitala Short Story Competition.

And on Friday this week, the finalists, who are listed on our website, www.tustalacompetition.com will find out who have won the category prizes and who is the overall winner.  

This regional competition, the only one that is specifically Pacific, is now in its second year.

Driven by the Editor in Chief, Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa, the competition evolved from the weekly  ‘Newspapers in Education’ feature of the paper which had initiated a students’ story writing competition in 2011 for primary, secondary and tertiary students.

It was a natural progression to move onto a competition for adults.

And typically, we skipped the step of having just a national competition and instead opted for an all-inclusive Pacific version. 

We’re glad we did. 

When you pick up the book with stories selected from the competition, the voices you will hear are from islands all around the Pacific – big and small.

Modelled on the format of the Commonwealth Story Competition, the Pacific version has unearthed some amazing writers speaking on a diverse range of topics and most importantly telling our stories about living in the Pacific.

The voices are authentic, challenging, heartbreaking and funny.

It is little wonder that we are a region rich in people with gifts in storytelling, poetry, play writing and many of the other creative, visual and performing arts.  

This Friday, we celebrate the second competition with a prize giving ceremony. 

And although not all our finalists and category winners can be with us to celebrate; as we did last year, we are looking to publish the best of the year’s stories in an anthology to reach readers far and wide.

This year, our little competition attracted the attention of organizers of the huge Commonwealth Competition which covers over 50 countries. 

They were eager to have more entries from the Pacific region and requested a copy of the 2015 book, ‘Our Heritage, the Ocean’. 

We hope that many writers who have entered our Pacific competition will also submit entries to them as well.

Today, Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh, a lecturer at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, arrives in Samoa (see front page story) to lend some of her star power to our prize giving and to look at some other projects while she is here.

She, along with many others associated with this competition, writers, our judges, sponsors, book editor, cover designer, overseas agent, printer, supporters, Samoa Observer staff and you the readers, share the belief and a love of reading and writing which allow us to continue this promotional project.

We thank you.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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