The 6th Buddhist Literary Awards are returning for 2023. The theme for this year’s short story and poetry contest is “Greed Brings Doom”.

Candidates are invited to submit their compositions between now and April 30, according to a notice from the Buddhist Institute of Cambodia, which is overseen by the Ministry of Cults and Religion.

“This competition will promote Buddhism, the official religion of the Kingdom. This year’s theme is particularly pertinent to Buddhist doctrine. The contest also contributes to improving reading and composition skills, and provides a venue for testing the ability of beginning or novice authors,” said Sar Sokny, head of the institute.

“The first, second, and third place winners will each receive a prize, along with a trophy. Their work will be published in Kampuchea Sorya magazine,” he added.

Since the founding of the Khmer Library in 1921 and the Royal Library in 1925 – which later became part of the Buddhist Institute – the institute has been responsible for the production and dissemination of traditional literary works. In 2018, it established the annual literary awards.

The theme of the first year’s contest was “Harmonisation in Society through Religion”, which was followed by “Buddhism in the development of Khmer society” and then “The Punishment of Alcohol”. 2021 explored the concept “No Disease is a Good Reward” and last year’s theme was “The Morality of Life”.

Last year saw 21 short stories and 16 poems entered.

Sokny anticipates a larger number of applicants for this year’s competition.

“Each entry is scored according to several strict criteria: meaning, tenor and grammar,” he said.

He said he believed that several previous winners would submit new work for this year’s competition.

Last year saw Ton Chanrith take first place in the short story category with a piece titled This Society. In second was Pov Makara, with Southwest. Phuy Ratana’s Indoor Lamp took third.

Chuon Khmao produced the winning poem, called Dragon Child, with Moeung Piseth’s Motherland placing second. Phirum Dara claimed third with the poem River Tide.

Candidates may submit one work in each category, and submissions must not have been published previously. Entries must be typed in a 12-point KhmerOS Siem Reap font. Stories should be between 10 and 15 pages, with poems from 5 to 10 pages.

All works must adhere to the spelling requirements of the Khmer lexicon produced by the 5th Buddhist Institute, and entrants must include their contact details.