The inaugural awards ceremony of the Ples Singsing Blog’s Tingting Bilong Mi 2020 Essay Competition took place at the Ribito Grill and Restaurant on Saturday 10th of April.
Present at the event were essayist and their guests, along with the four Ples Singsing Masterminds and special guest Ms. Imelda Griffin, a writer/poet and manager at WestPac Limited.
A huge congratulations was shared with all the writers and to the nine essayists who made it onto the competition shortlist.
At the awards ceremony the essayists were welcomed as aspiring writers and celebrated for their courage and efforts in the competition.
The finalists present were Illeana Dom, Mathisah Turi, Vilousha Hahembe, Latasha Akane and Nathan Kilali. Other finalists, Issabella Vilau, Esther Tuweyo and Jamila Kawas, were not able to be present and their awards will be posted to them.
The essay judges unfortunately were unable to attend but their hard work and effort was highly acknowledged during the ceremony. The judges were Dr Fiona Hukula (researcher and advocator), Philip Fitzpatrick (author), and Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin (essayist) also Patrick Levo (Post Courier), and Ed Brumby (retired educator).
The top three places in the competition went to three outstanding female essayists.
The Most Popular Essay on the blog which received over one thousand views on the blog went to Vilousha Hahembe. In first place was Illeana Dom receiving an award certificate and prize money of K600. Mathisah Turi, the youngest writer turning 16 this year, was in second place and received an award certificate and prize money of K400. Issabella Vilau, who lives in Goroka, was in third place and will be sent her certificate and K300 prize money. The three winners each received two books by PNG authors.
Also, on the program was a panel discussion which was moderated by special guest Ms. Imelda Griffin. Everyone present participated in the discussion which was led by, Elizabeth Turi, Grace Dom and Caroline Evari and Michael Dom of Ples Singsing.
The first topic was about “government support for independent publishers and what’s needed”?
Apart from having access to publishing opportunities and supporting local start-up publishing businesses the most important point agreed to by the panel was about editing.
Editing is vital to the writing process but availability of editors is lacking in Papua New Guinea. Good editors support local authors and their publishers to produce readable books.
Also, in order to produce quality reading materials critical editing is paramount for PNG authors to improve their manuscripts. Writers are best advised to find someone to whom they can send their work to proof read and edit work.
Another topic was “developing reading culture and preserving our stories and how to address the different audiences”.
One idea was to promote the use of vernacular language use in writing, which is also a tool to capture oral literature. This will also become a means to preserve our local languages.
The submitted essays made valid points for the PNG government to support PNG authors.
Two of the strongest points was the need to improve literacy and literature in PNG. While these two words are related but can be distinguished from each other as Literacy is reading and writing while literature is the tangible work put down on a piece of paper.
The need for improved literacy and literature in Papua Niugini is close to the heart of Ples Singsing.
In his remarks when opening the awards ceremony Ples Singsing’s Michael Dom stated that “We want to encourage more Papua new Guineans to be reading PNG authored books and to create many more avenues by which we can make those books (and Papua Niuginian) writing available to more Papua New Guinean’s. In other words, we want to popularize our national Literature”.
In 2019, the four Masterminds were part of the writers’ group along with retired journalist and author Daniel Kumbon had petitioned the Prime Minister to support Papua New Guinean authors who were struggling to get their books published and made available to schools and universities for students to read. The government is yet to respond to the petition.
Meanwhile the Tingting Bilong Mi Essay Competition asked the question ‘Why do you think the PNG Government should/should not buy PNG authored books’ aimed to gain an insight into what young Papua New Guineans think about the petition agenda.
Essay writing provides a means to encourage critical thinking skills by our youth, particularly students, from 16 to 36 years age. The Tingting Bilong Mi Essay contest has helped to capture these young people’s thoughts about the writer’s cause “PNG authors for PNG readers”. It is planned that this essay competition will continue for another five years with different topics.
Ples Singsing – Papua Niugnian Writers Blog was formed around July 2020 by the four Masterminds Caroline Evari, Betty Wakia, Michael Dom and Gregory Bablis, who were brought together because of their passion for writing.
The blog shares short stories, poems, essays, book reviews and other writing by PNG authors which are also promoted on their Facebook page, on LinkedIn and Twitter.
The Masterminds have also promoted the Tingting Bilong Mi contest through newspaper articles, and plan to publish a book compilation of the essays. There is also an idea to publish a magazine of Papua Niuginian stories to promote literature.
Another writing competition that will soon be run by Ples Singsing is the Kurai Memorial Award. Paul Kurai is from Wabag in Enga Province and owns Ribito Grill and Restaurant at Waigain North, and the sponsor this award for short-biographical story of an individual’s contribution before Independence.
The Ples Singsing Masterminds sincerely thank Mr. Paul Kurai for putting up his business place for the awards ceremony. And after an excellent lunch along with our guests and the essayists, we can assure Port Moresby residents that Ribito Grill & Restaraunt serves up truly delicious T-bone steak and excellent chips – go there for your munchies cure!