Born in January 17, 1994 in O’Chrov commune’s Koh Khchong village of Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nop district, Pov Makara has gone on to win several literary awards. The fourth of five children, his parents never got the chance to share in his success, passing away when he was young.

After graduating from Hun Sen Cham Bak High School in Kampong Speu province in 2012, he pursued a degree in graphic design at the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) and graduated in 2017.

Makara has composed soap operas on TV, and is also a film producer. Prior to this, he attended courses in children’s stories writing and design through Room to Read Cambodia and Let’s Read, a project by the Asia Foundation. It was here that he discovered his passion for Khmer literature.

“I entered contests through the Books and Reading Department four times, with two fails and two passes. I was also fortunate enough to join two competitions at the Buddhist institute, placing once,” he said.

This year, his short story Southwest took second place in the fifth literary awards of the Buddhist Institute, organised with the theme “Living with Morality,” prepared by the Ministry of Cults and Religions.

He also placed third in the Indradevi awards, with his story Sunrise and Father, an event in which he came fourth last year with The Tide of Life.

“To win the awards, I focussed really hard on the topic that the judging panel set. I read as much of other people’s work as I could, and tried to capture the feeling of the theme as closely as possible,” he said.

He added that he had ought to understand the meaning, tenor and genre of the theme, and often stopped to ask himself what it was that he wanted readers to take from his work.

He studied the work of previous winners and older writers, but ultimately said his own passes and failures were the greatest source of inspiration for the development of his work.

“I am proud of my awards, but I want to send a message to the candidates who did not place. Never give up on your dreams. Keep striving to improve your work and the rewards will come,” he said.

“I have had prizes and I have failed to impress the judges. I was sometimes angry with myself for being unable to take the win, but I re-thought my priorities. Writing is a dream of mine, and so I decided to apply myself and try harder to understand the themes,” he continued.

He added that each failure taught him a lot and was invaluable to the success of his later works. He often read and reread his stories to be sure that his protagonists – and their actions and dialogues –were in line with what he was trying to say.

“I have weighing up entering poetry competitions, but I am not 100 per cent sure that I will do so. I will definitely be trying to claim the number one spot in the short story contest this year,” he concluded.