Commonwealth Writers Meet-and-Greet
What is the Commonwealth Short Story Prize? What does the Commonwealth Writers do? How can writers and translators here tap on their programmes?
Here is your chance to find out more about the Commonwealth Writers and the opportunities they offer to develop writers and translators. Come and meet two of their representatives, Janet Steel and Emma D’Costa, in this informal meet-and-greet session!
Also, enjoy 10% off all cakes and drinks at the bookstore cafe, as well as a special offer price of $14.90 for their dinner set meal of panini and a cup of coffee or tea (original price $19.80).
Commonwealth Writers is the cultural programme of the Commonwealth Foundation, an international development agency based in London.
Commonwealth Writers works with writers and storytellers in all genres to enable them to tell their stories, both by developing their craft through workshops, online mentoring and editorial processes, and by giving them platforms for their work whether online, in printed form or at festivals and events.
We believe in the value of local stories, voices from the ground, from people who live a particular, often ‘less heard’ experience. We believe in the transformative power of stories – whether fiction, nonfiction, poetry or film – which can raise awareness, inspire people and, ultimately, move them to action.
We enable ‘less heard voices’ – people in the margins – to have a voice, to be heard. We work with new and emerging writers, and writers outside the mainstream, certainly in international publishing terms.
Please visit www.commonwealthwriters.org for more information.
Commonwealth Short Story Prize
The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in from across the Commonwealth. It is free to enter and open to unpublished as well as published writers. Entries in translation are also eligible. The overall winner receives £5,000 and five regional winners - from Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific - receive £2,500.
From the start the Prize has been open to receiving entries translated into English, encouraging more writers to translate their stories. But writers, particularly new writers, seldom have access to good fiction translators so in parallel with Commonwealth Writers’ other translation initiatives, the Prize has opened up to receive entries in a number of original languages, currently Bengali, Kiswahili, Portuguese and Samoan. In 2018 it is hoped to include the three languages of Singapore – Malay, Mandarin and Tamil – following the planned announcement of this year’s winner in the country in June.
Recognising the prevalence of the common language, English, in the Commonwealth, such initiatives start to address, in a small way, the inequalities of language and increase the opportunities for ‘less heard voices’ in other languages to be heard more widely on a variety of platforms. Such stories rarely reach beyond their localities, and in 2016, we achieved our first translated entry on the shortlist, Niroporadh Ghum (Innocent Sleep) by Sumon Rahman from Bangladesh.
Janet leads Commonwealth Writers, the cultural initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation. Prior to this post Janet has spent over thirty years working in the cultural sector, primarily in theatre and new writing. Starting out as a young actress Janet quickly moved into directing, producing and script development. In 2012 she won an award for her commitment and encouragement of new writing from The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.
For 13 years Janet was Artistic Director for Kali Theatre Company specialising in new writing by South Asian Women. During her tenure she developed, produced and directed 20 new plays which toured nationally, encouraged and nurtured over a hundred new writers for public readings, devised and managed several new writing festivals. From dual heritage, Indian South African and British, Janet is passionately committed to inclusion and equality and has long been a campaigner for freedom of speech and cultural diversity in the arts and has sat on advisory panels for Universities, The Arts Council and DCMS.
Emma has worked with the Commonwealth Foundation as a consultant since 1995, managing a range of events and projects. In her current role she now manages the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and develops Commonwealth Writers’ translation initiatives. Emma has many years’ experience of curating exhibitions, organising events and managing arts projects with a focus on world cultures. As Visual Arts Officer at the Commonwealth Institute she curated a large number of international exhibitions. As Head of Project Development at London-based arts organisation Cultural Co-operation, she worked with artists from London’s national and faith communities, as well as putting together talks and spoken word programmes for the Music Village Festivals, and organising a major conference on diaspora literature in 2005.