Samoa Observer competition attracts Commonwealth’s attention

25 September 2016, 12:00AM

Organisers of two Short Story competitions are seeking ways to work together to encourage more Pacific writers to share their stories with the world.

The Samoa Observer Tusitala Short Story competition which was launched in 2015 accepts entries from writers in the region who are living in Australia, New Zealand and all Pacific Islands.

The Commonwealth Short Story competition which began in 2012, is for over 50 Commonwealth countries but is looking for more writers particularly from Samoa, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. 

Organising  Committee  member, Marj Moore said after getting the address for the Commonwealth Foundation from New Zealand High Commissioner, H.E. Jackie Frizelle, she was pleased to be contacted by Emma D’Costa who runs the Commonwealth competition after who had found the Tusitala Competition website.

“It was wonderful to have a Pacific regional winner from Fiji, Mary Rokonadravu, in 2015, and we very much want to build on this and get to a stage where we have more entries from the Pacific Islands on the short list,” emailed D’Costa. 

“The prize is also open to entries translated into English, and last year we opened it up to entries in three original languages – Bengali, Portuguese and Kiswahili – as a pilot." 

“Meanwhile, I’d taken advice from contacts in the Pacific and was recommended that Samoan would be an appropriate, original language to include for entries to the Prize,” she said.

“We would be very interested to explore how we might work together to bring Samoan writers to the attention of a wider audience.”  

Moore said both organisations have similar aims and it makes sense to work together where it is mutually beneficial.

One possibility suggested by D’Costa, was that some Samoan writers might like to enter both competitions, perhaps with the same story given that entry dates and deadlines for the competitions are at quite different times.

The Samoa Observer competition deadline for entries this year closes on 14 October 2016 and the winners will be announced before the end of the year.

On the other hand, the Commonwealth competition entry deadline is on 1 November 2016 but given the larger number of entries they receive, the shortlist does not come out until March 2017, the regional winners are announced in April, and the overall winner in May. 

Moore said that while no decision has been reached on that proposal, one of the deciding factors will be the increased opportunities for Pacific writers.

In the meantime, Moore said that Programme Manager at the Commonwealth Foundation in London had requested copies of the publication, “Our Heritage, the Ocean” which contains 16 of the best stories from the inaugural 2015 competition.

“They have asked for copies for their London office and one to be sent to New Zealand to the Chair of the Commonwealth Foundation, the Right Honourable Sir Anand Satyanand.”

“It is exciting for us and for our Pacific authors to have their stories read on the other side of the world,” said Moore.      


25 September 2016, 12:00AM

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