Competition gives voice to Pacific writers

11 September 2016, 12:00AM

A new prize has been added to the annual Samoa Observer Tusitala Short Story Competition.  

“It’s a ‘Special Mention’ award,” said Selina Tusitala Marsh, who was a judge in the 2015 competition, and is the outgoing chair of the South Pacific Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies, (S.P.A.C.L.A.L.S.) 

“The ‘SPACLALS Tuli Prize’ of NZ$300 is so named in recognition of the Tuli’s  (Golden Plover bird) endurance to stay the course (which all writers need), and its mythic basis as Tagaloa’s messenger,” said Marsh.

“This year, it is stories written in English only, which can be submitted online from your area of residence: Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific islands and Samoa,” said Organising Committee member, Marj Moore.

A prizewinner will be chosen from each of those three areas and then one overall prizewinner will be selected from the top three regional entries.  

Entries must be submitted online by 5pm, Friday October 14, she said.

“We hope that will give our writers plenty of time to begin writing or to polish their stories they have prepared to send in.” 

Last year, around 200 entries were received in the inaugural year of the competition. 

At the prizegiving, Editor in Chief, Gatoaitele Sano Malifa said, “As for those budding writers out there, let them not give up on that talent that they believe is hidden inside them.”

“Let them pursue it instead by continuing to write those stories, while bearing in mind that the idea that they have made the effort to write, is a clear indication that they truly have the gift in them.”

“Let them not be easily discouraged then. Let them continue to nurture that gift by reading all kinds of books, stories in newspapers and magazines, while continuing at the same time to write until they’ve mastered the gift called the written word.”

And in the Keynote Address written by the New Zealand High Commissioner, H.E. Jackie Frizelle, she said, “I had the pleasure of reading some of the winning entries.  They leave you wanting to read more, as you’re carried to another place.

“The best of them are deceptively simple.  It is not always clever vocabulary or witty puns that set a story apart – sometimes it’s careful and sensitive observation that touches people.”  

“It can be the authenticity of the voice or even what is left unsaid, that speaks the loudest.  

The winning stories all resonate with a strong sense of Pacific identity.  Through the dialogue, and subtle details you can feel where you are.”

The 2015 winning entries and highly recommended stories were published in a book titled “Our Heritage, the Ocean” which is available from selected outlets in Apia and online at ShopSamoa.   

11 September 2016, 12:00AM

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