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Mekong River Literature Award winner reflects upon title triumph

Mr Keobounthan Keopakasith is quite rightly very happy and proud to be one of two Lao winners of this year’s prestigious Mekong River Literature Award 2017.
He won the award for best poem with his work Meuangmoun-Meuangmae or ‘Meuangmoun, my motherland’.
The award winners were announced in Vientiane on July 1 and Mr Keobounthan attended the awards ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand on August 26 where he received his prize alongside awardees from other Mekong region countries.
His winning poem Meuangmoun-Meuangmae describes his homeland in Moulapamok district, located on the west bank of the

Mr Keobounthan poses with his prizes at a press conference to congratulate awardees held in the capital.

Mekong River in the southern province of Champassak.
The poem describes the beauty, traditions, culture, natural resources, forests, wood, rice fields, and sustainable development of the district, as well as the lifestyle, solidarity, unity, loving kindness, and tradition of national defence of its people.
The poem aims to raise awareness about living in beauty, peace, unity and solidarity and also contributing to country development and defence.
Mr Keobounthan has previously entered his stories in numerous awards, including the Mekong River Literature Award many times without taking home the main prize.
Fortunately, he competed again this year and his work was recognised by the judging panel and selected as the winner.
Mr Keobounthan said he was very happy to win the title because it was a very meaningful and important for him as it was an award that only a few writers from each country won each year.
“I am so glad about winning the title. I have tried to send my articles to various competitions on many occasions but haven’t won any big awards yet. However, I never gave up in my attempts, I did it again and again, and I finally I won this time,” he said.
“So, I am really happy and proud to be awarded the title because it’s 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 of the Mekong River Literature Award.
 “The Mekong River Literature Award is really a symbol of solidarity, friendship between literature writers in the region consistent with the trends of exchange, cooperation, dialogue between cultures, and it helps to unite all countries in the Mekong river basin.”
“I also got many things from attending the awards ceremony, not just the prizes but experience and friendship and knowledge exchange with writers or participants from many countries.
“I would like to thank the organising committee for holding this ceremony and thank the judges for adjudicating and seeing the importance of my article.”
“Of course, I will continue writing and compete on other stages in the future because I love writing, especially poems.”
Mr Keobounthan Keopakasith was born on June 1, 1953 in Pa-oy village, Mounlapamok district, Champassak province. He graduated with a Bachelor degree of Literature from the National University of Laos.
He was previously employed as a professor of literature at the National University of Laos but is now retired.
During his working life he was awarded Liberation medals and merit certificates from the government, provinces, districts, workplaces and villages.
He is a prolific writer who has published various articles, stories and poems and has won many prizes.
Since 1970, he has penned stories, poems, folksongs (Lam Lao), and songs.
His national level awards include the short story “Secrecy of mother” in 1978, his short poem “Support to reading and thinking” in 1983, the folksong “Want to have a wife” in 1986, the song “Soldier loves a farmer” in 1988, and the long poem “To visit a mother-in-law” in 2015.

By Visith Teppalath
(Latest Update October 28 , 2017 )

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