Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodian wordsmiths to receive Mekong River Literature Awards

Cambodian wordsmiths to receive Mekong River Literature Awards

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Moeun Samnang (centre), who is well known for his poetry, has been selected for the best poem award at the 10th Mekong River Literature Awards in Myanmar. Photo supplied

Cambodian wordsmiths to receive Mekong River Literature Awards

Two Cambodian wordsmiths – a short story writer and a poet – have been selected for honours at the 10th Mekong River Literature Awards in Myanmar.

This year’s topic was Life and Mekong River Sustainability, and after a strict selection process, Dr Setharin Penn, a professor of Khmer literature at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), won the short story competition.

Best poem went to Siem Reap province’s Moeun Samnang, who is well known for his poetry.

Using the traditional Khmer verse style, his poem Love Along the River beautifully tells the story of a fisherman who braves the weather and harsh conditions to catch fish for his wife to sell.

Penn and Samnang will travel to Myanmar for the 10th Mekong River Literature Awards and share centre stage with winners from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, China and Myanmar at the ceremony, which runs from October 11-14.

Penn, who holds a doctorate in anthropology, won with her short story Kongkear Chivit – Water of Life.

The piece reflects her experiences of travelling across Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. The 12-page short story, which took her only three weeks to write, portrays the love and struggles of a couple who live along the Mekong River.

“My actual profession is research as I’m an anthropologist, but I love writing. I am excited whenever I meet people and hear their stories. This instantly ignites my passion for writing. When a story sparks my interest, when a life inspires me, I want to share it with other people through writing.

“When I start writing, I don’t see it as work. I do it because I love spreading ideas and messages to my readers,” says the Cambodian-Japanese professor who taught at the University of Tokyo for some years.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Dr Setharin Penn, a professor of Khmer literature at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, won the short story competition. Photo supplied

Lek Chumnor, the director of operations at Khmer Book Publishing and vice-president of the Khmer Writers Association, told The Post that each member country selects its winners for best short story and poem on the theme. They can be no more than 15 pages long.

“We wanted to see our short story writer and poet produce work based on both the good and bad sides of human activities while people live and depend on the biodiversity of the Mekong River.

“What they express in their pieces will be great additions to the body of stories set along the Mekong,” Chumnor says.

The Mekong River Literature Awards were started by the heads of writers’ associations from Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, where people’s lifestyles and culture are shared through the flow of the mighty river.

The awards were established in October 2006 to honour writers from member countries after the leaders of the three writers’ associations met in Ho Chi Minh City.

The first awards were held in Hanoi in 2007, with 15 writers from the three founding nations honoured.

With the hosting of the Mekong River Literature Awards rotated, this year will see Myanmar, the sixth country to join the group, host them for the first time.

Two winners from each member state will be honoured.

“Next year, Cambodia will host the 2020 Mekong River Literature Awards,” Chumnor says proudly.

MOST VIEWED

  • Website advises travellers to stay clear of Angkor Wat

    An Australian website has advised travellers to avoid Angkor Wat during their trip to Southeast Asia because the ancient temple is showing signs of rapid erosion and faced water management issues. In a recent article entitled Best places to go in 2020: 12 destinations you should avoid

  • First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

    Twenty-five Cambodian-Americans landed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, marking the first such deportations of the year. “On Wednesday, US law enforcement authorities deported 25 Cambodian nationals that immigration judges determined had no legal basis to remain in the US,” said Arend Zwartjes, spokesperson for the US

  • Passenger taxi boat ridership sinks despite free services

    Passenger taxi boat traffic has dropped by about five per cent compared to the same period last year, despite the government providing free service for garment workers until next year, Phnom Penh Autonomous Bus Transportation Authority director Ean Sokhim said on Monday. In 2018, the Phnom

  • Kingdom drafting new law to strengthen immigration

    The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday said it had formed a working group to draft amendments to the Law on Immigration. Its secretary of state Sok Phal told The Post that the amendments will strengthen the management of immigrants in line with the current situation.

  • Qatar Airways to connect Doha and Siem Reap town

    Qatar Airways Company QCSC has announced a new route connecting Qatar’s capital Doha with Siem Reap, a move hailed by local officials as a significant step to boost tourist numbers. A Qatar Airways representative, speaking at the Kuwait Aviation Show, announced on Thursday that

  • Jica seeks to turn PP, towns into smart cities

    Japanese International Cooperation Agency (Jica) representatives have sought support from Siem Reap’s Apsara National Authority (ANA) to transform the ancient capital into a smart city. The call was made in February last year after the government approved three cities to join the Asean Smart