Short Story Competition Winners
ASCC instructor Poe Mageo (center) placed among the winning entries in the recent Samoa Observer Regional Tusitala Short Story Competition with his short story “A Miscall”. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

ASCC Instructor Recognized in Regional Short Story Contest

September 11, 2015

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

Mr. Poe Mageo, an instructor at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) who is also recognized as a prominent figure in the local music community through his work with his own Dancing Fingers piano academy, continues to make strides in his concurrent side-career as a writer of short fiction. Last year, Mr. Mageo’s short story “From Josten’s With Love” was published in SPAN 64: Journal of the South Pacific Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies, an academic publication which focuses on postcolonial, neocolonial and diaspora literature in English, and earlier this month another of Mr. Mageo’s fiction pieces, “A Miscall,” placed in the runner-up category of the recent Samoa Observer Regional Tusitala Short Story Competition.

The competition, organized by Independent State of Samoa newspaper The Samoa Observer, resulted in two overall winners, but also a number of works designated as “Highly Commended” by writers from Samoa, Australia, New Zealand, and the rest of the Pacific. Describing “A Miscall,” which placed in the latter category of the contest, Mr. Mageo said it, reveals a relationship among Samoan women, especially mother-daughter bonding, Samoans’ ancient belief in supernatural powers, the role of the local taulasea, village etiquette, family heritage, and of course, the impact of Christian morals over traditional perspectives. One use ‘a miscall’ as a metaphor for many things about Samoan society today, so the title is ironic. In this context, I used the story to explore universal themes such as jealousy, courage, and self-awareness.”

While Mr. Mageo’s busy schedule of activities precluded him attending the award ceremony held in Samoa earlier this month, he expressed his humble appreciation for the recognition of his work. “I write mostly for my own enjoyment,” he said, “but when it brings others enjoyment too, that really means a lot. To be included in such distinguished company as the other emerging writers in the Samoas and the rest of the region is indeed an honor.”

In addition to his full-time teaching duties at ASCC, which include Speech, Music and Drama classes, Mr. Mageo gives private music instruction through Dancing Fingers, organizes the music for his church, and has been laying the foundations to establish an ASCC Jazz Ensemble which he hopes will give its first performance as part of the upcoming Samoana Jazz and Arts Festival scheduled for late October. “My role is to raise awareness and appreciation for Jazz among ASCC students,” he reflected. “The last time we hosted a Jazz ensemble here at ASCC, I could tell that the students’ reaction to this form of music was kind of tentative. Yet, if they understood its conventions and dynamics, they’d be better able to appreciate the unique sound of Jazz.”

For more information on the Samoa Observer Tusitala Short Story competition, visit the web site: