Lao poet Dara Kanlaya, better known for her pen name Douangchampa, has won the ASEAN Sunthorn Phu Award 2013 in Thailand, according to the Lao News Agency KPL.

Dara is a high-profile author, having produced some 60 short stories, over 90 poems, seven novels, and a two-hour play, "Boua Deng", selected by the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. She was the first Lao poet honoured with this award.

The awarding ceremony was held at the Thai National Culture Hall in Bangkok on June 26, drawing poets from ten ASEAN member countries.

Dara, 73, a poet with national outstanding performances in various fields in poetry and writing, had received the SEA Write Award in 2010 and the National Artist in the Literature Category. The Sunthorn Phu Award was organised by the Ministry of Culture of Thailand , entitled to the Thai first-class poet Sunthorn Phu.

Sunthorn Phu was recognised as an Important Person of the World by UNESCO, on the occasion of 200th anniversary of his birthday (1786-1986). The ASEAN Sunthorn Phu Award is issued to promote and exalt talented poets from ASEAN member countries. Dara Kanlaya or Douangchampa is a poet who has had great acknowledgments within the Lao society for 50 years.

She had been a pioneer of Lao Palm Leaf Manuscripts Protection Project from 1988 to 2004 and for National Reading Promotion Project since 1992.

Dara's writing theme mostly deals with women’s issues and gender, promoting a better living standard for women through education. She also works as curator of old palm-leaf manuscripts, and studies classic Lao literature.-VNA