A storyteller illustrates a story about a girl, her mother and a turtle.
As the graphite glistens like a medieval etching on stone, the crisp white paper grows pictures. The art dances and the images come together and get close in a circle.
The storyteller adds smiles on their faces; the story is going to have a happy ending.
But, as the three characters get closer during the shading, the storyteller accidentally gives the mother a tear. Another tear is added deliberately for balance. Then the storyteller gives the girl a tear, somewhat reluctantly. The storyteller’s eyes fill with tears. She works faster as tears stream down her face. She begins to shade around the three characters. She cannot separate them. The storyteller is pulled into the circle, to the three characters. There is no separation. It is the law of nature. It is the law of memory and love. It is the law of characters that we love.
My entry into the The Crocodile Prize, Papua New Guinea’s National Literature Awards, won the children’s category. “The Song of the Turtle” is a fiction based on events that happened when I was growing up in Wagang Village, Lae, Papua New Guinea. I will post the story here, tomorrow.
I had watched turtle eggs being found and gathered on our beach and watched sea turtles captured and eaten. Today, the large sea turtles do not lay on our beach anymore.
Across the Huon Gulf on coastline Labu, turtles are being protected and a certain coastline has been declared as a protected habitat. The locals are part of the turtle protection programme. I am glad this has happened. Read More on the Labu Turtle project here.
I hoped that “The Song of the Turtle” will teach Papua New Guinea children about how important it is to care for wild-life and wild-life habitat in our country. PNG is lucky to have so many beautiful species and with effects of climate change and human development, numbers of species and wildlife habitat is becoming fewer and soon, some will disappear forever.
There were over 800 entries in the Crocodile Prize this year. 160 entries including The Song of the Turtle has been published in the 2015 Crocodile Prize Anthology. It is on sale on Amazon.
WRITERS from seven provinces feature in the nine prizes awarded in this year’s Crocodile Prize – Papua New Guinea’s national literary awards.
And one of the winners, 20-year old medical student Hazel Kutkue, not only won the Martens’ Award for Young Writers but the national short story prize – a prodigious achievement at such an early age and against some very stiff competition.
The Ok Tedi Mining Award for Book of the Year saw Baka Bina’s Man of Calibre triumph in a strong field of 10 contenders while the inaugural SP Brewery Award for Illustration went to another Eastern Highlander, Emmanuel Landu, brother of two-time Crocodile Prize winner, poet Lapieh Landu.
Other provinces represented in the prize winners are Enga, Simbu, Milne Bay, Morobe, Madang and the National Capital District.
The other winners include Philip Kaupa Gena (poetry), Busa Wenogo (essay), Joycelin Leahy (writing for children), Ronnie Dotaona (heritage) and Daniel Kumbon (tourism, arts & culture).
The writers’ ages range from 20 to 56, averaging 36, and their professions include economist, teacher, court officer, journalist, artist and student.