VIENTIANE - Phonesavanh Phanthavichith has been recognised as one of the most promising young literary talents in the region after becoming a (South East Asia) SEA Write awardee for 2015.
Phonesavanh is an active amateur writer who has published many stories and articles while performing his day job with the Department of Information, Culture and Tourism in Oudomxay province.
Under his pen name ‘P. Phouphaneua' he has won many prizes and titles in writing and poetry, and recently was bestowed with the SEA Write Award for a novel he wrote titled Saynamthilaikap or ‘Reverse River'.
He was the only Lao writer to receive the award in 2015, with the judges highly valuing his novel Saynamthilaikap, which describes love and life.
Previously, Phonesavanh has sent his stories and poems to compete on this stage many times and finally his works have been recognised. He is very happy to be the winner and proud of the prize because it is not easy to win such regional awards.
The SEA Write Award, or Southeast Asian Writers Award, has been presented annually since 1979 to poets and writers in Southeast Asia.
The awards are given to writers from each of the 10 countries that comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, though not all Asean countries are represented every year.
The award is sometimes given for a specific work by an author, or it could be awarded for lifetime achievement. The types of works that are honoured vary, and have included poetry, short stories, novels, plays, folklore, and scholarly and religious works.
Each country has to select the best writers to compete for the award and they are judged according to set regulations.
In 2015, the awards presentation ceremony was hosted by Thailand, in Bangkok on December 14, and 10 awardees from Asean countries including Phonesavanh attended the event.
Phonesavanh is the 18th Lao SEA Write awardee after the first awardee, Dr Thongkham Onemanisone, won the prize for best poem with his work Namtamae in 1998, and 2014 awardee Somsouk Souksavath who won for best short story with Anachakbinbon.
A press conference was held in Vientiane on December 19 last year to congratulate Phonesavanh. It was organised by the Lao Writers' Association and chaired by its Acting President, Ms Phiulavanh Luangvanna.
Ms Phiulavanh congratulated Phonesavanh on his achievements and representing Lao writers to win the award.
She admired him as an outstanding amatuer writer who worked hard to producing literary work when not busy with his work in the department.
Ms Phiulavanh encouraged him to continue to write and produce more works in the future.
Phonesavanh was born on December 25, 1958, in Somsanouk village, Pha-oudom district, Bokeo province.
He graduated from a monk's secondary school in Luang Prabang province as a novice, before completing middle grade at the Institute of Fine Arts, and finally graduated with a bachelor's degree in administration and management.
He fell in love with writing at the age of 15. Besides his main job he writes various stories, novels, TV series, stage plays, poems and songs.
He has written more than 100 poems, and dozens of novels and short stories. On top of that he has also written more than 100 songs.
Before the SEA Write award, he won many other prizes, including the Mekong River Literature Award for best short story titled ‘Khuamhak Khuamphoukphan' and the Sinxay Award for best novel for his work ‘Khuanmorkkangsayfon'.
It was not easy for him to win the SEA Write award because he had to work hard on his writing, concentrating on every sentence and phrase to produce the best story.
He now lives in Vanghai village, Xay district, Oudomxay province and works at the provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department.
Phonesavanh expressed his appreciation and thanked the Lao Writers' Association for organising the press conference to congratulate him on his achievement.
“I am very happy and proud of the award because it is a meaningful and important title with only one presented each year. I have tried my best to write this novel and I did not expect to be the winner and it was a tremendous surprise when my story was selected.”
“I love writing and write all kinds of stories, poems and songs. I have tried to send my articles to various competitions on many occasions and I sometimes win. However, I have never given up in my attempts because I always have a bigger target, so I do it again and again, and I finally I won this title which is bigger and more important than my previous titles,” he said.
“So I am very happy to be awarded and proud of my title because it is my first time to win this prize. It is not easy to be selected and win the award because this is a regional award and each country has to choose the best writers to take part in the competition and the judging has many steps in line with the regulations.”
“I would like to thank the organising committee for holding this ceremony and thank the judges for realising the importance of my novel,” he added.