The 6th Buddhist Literature Awards 2023 features the theme “Greed often leads to one’s downfall”. The Buddhist Institute has organised the competition in order to revive Khmer literature. It focuses on short stories and poems.

The winners of the short story and poetry categories will be ranked from first to third, with each winner seeing their work published. They will also receive cash prizes and certificates, said Sor Sokny, director of the Buddhist Institute, as he revealed plans for the 2023 competition.

He said the entries to the contest will be accepted until April 30, 2023.

Sokny explained the terms and conditions for applying to participate.

“A candidate may submit only one work and it cannot have been entered in a competition before. Short stories should be between 10 to 15 pages long, with poems of 5 to 10 pages accepted. They must be typed in Khmer Unicode, in 12 point Khmer OS Siem Reap. All submitted works must adhere to the spelling specified in the 5th Khmer dictionary published by the Buddhist Institute,” he said.

Candidates should provide their address, phone number and email to allow communication with the judges.

Last year’s competition was held with the theme of “Ethics of Living”. The winners were announced by the Ministry of Cults and Religions in August, with This Society, by Ton Chanrith claiming first prize in the short story category. Pov Makara’s piece Norati and Phuy Ratana’s The Lamp were second and third, respectively.

Chuon Khmao’s Kon Neak (Baby Naga) was the top poem, with Dey Mer (Mother’s Land) by Moeung Piseth in second. Phirum Dara with the poem Chumnor Kongkea (Wind in Water) was third.

Chanrith, who claimed first place in the story competition, is a freelance writer from Battambang province. Piseth, who took second in the poetry comp, is from Pursat province. The two men shared some of their experiences, with a view to supporting the next generation of candidates.

Chanrith was pleased with his win, saying the competition is an excellent way of promoting the field of literature. He enjoys the format of the event, particularly the different themes that are set by the organisers.

“As a writer, you have to be creative. You must adapt to current societal realities if you want to attract the attention of the public, and also the evaluation committee. You also have to be constantly aware of the three main elements of Khmer literature – meaning, form and benefit,” he said.

“We need to review our previous work and work out what our weaknesses are, and then create a new work that overcomes these. I entered this competition many times before I was able to win it,” he added.

Piseth intends to re-enter next year’s poetry category.

“I will participate in the competition for short poems again. I came second this year and want to know if I can improve on that,” he said, before offering advice to next year’s prospective entrants.

“As a writer, you must pay close attention to classic works, and the writing of older, more established authors. The more of their work we read, the better an understanding of composition we acquire. Later we can come up with our own ideas, but it is important that we adhere to the principles of the art of composition,” he added.

The first composition was held in 2018, with the theme of “Harmonisation in Society through Religion”. Subsequent themes have included “Punishment of Alcohol” and “No Disease is a Good reward”.