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News & Features » April 2014 » Spotlight on Commonwealth Writers

Spotlight on Commonwealth Writers

Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean  is the inaugural release of Pepperpot-currentPeekash Press, an imprint created by Akashic Books and Peepal Tree Press with an exclusive focus on Caribbean literature. Pepperpot and Peekash Press is a joint venture between Akashic and Peepal Tree, in collaboration with Commonwealth Writers, the British Council, the Kingston Book Festival, NGC Bocas Lit Fest, and CaribLit.

To celebrate the release of Pepperpot, we are thrilled to feature spotlights of a few of these organizations throughout April; today, we’re pleased to spotlight Commonwealth Writers, who have written this:

What is Commonwealth Writers?

Commonwealth Writers is the cultural initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation, an international development organization based in London. Commonwealth Writers inspires, develops and connects writers and storytellers in a range of disciplines. It builds communities of less-heard voices and explores how writers and their work can strengthen their role in Civil Society—social activists, community groups, and NGOs—to bring about social change.

We believe that creative expression is related to every aspect of life. It is one of the roots of development, understood not just in terms of economic growth but also as a means to achieve a more satisfactory intellectual, emotional, moral, and spiritual existence. Creative expression is central to contemporary debates about identity, social cohesion, and the development of a knowledge-based economy.

At the heart of Commonwealth Writers is the transformative power of stories. There is an opportunity in Commonwealth countries to utilize the potential of fiction to affect the way people think, act, and ultimately engage with the governance structures in their communities.

Commonwealth Writers works with a range of organizations and individuals on a variety of initiatives:

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Commonwealth1This is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000-5,000 words) in English. Regional winners receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000. Short stories translated into English from other languages are also eligible. The winner of the 2014 Prize will be announced on 13th June. The 2015 Short Story Prize is open for entry from 15 September – 15 November, 2014. The prize unearths talented writers to take part in online residencies and on-the-ground activities, as well as inspiring others through their work.


Commonwealth2This is a local economic development initiative committed to strengthening literary culture, publishing, and related activities in the Caribbean.

Peekash Press, the new Caribbean imprint from Akashic Books and Peepal Tree Press (Leeds, England), grew out of the CaribLit initiative. The first publication from the press is Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean, a collection of entries from the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

CaribLit is supported by Commonwealth Writers, the British Council, and the NGC Bocas Lit Fest.

Commonwealth Writers Conversations

As part of Commonwealth Writers’ global partnership with Hay Festival, we program a global series of conversations which invite writers, artists, and thinkers to discuss subjects and themes that are often met with silence in societies around the world. This is a place to talk about the best ways to communicate the difficult and the unsayable, whether through words or other forms of expression. Details of Commonwealth Writers Conversations can be found on our website.

Recent Conversations

April 9, 2014, London


The Untold Story: Choices and Compromises – heard and silenced at home or less heard and labelled away?

BBC journalist, Razia Iqbal, in conversation with writers Shyam Selvadurai and Thomas Glave, and visual artist and activist Skye Chirape.

You can read a report and watch a recording of the event here.

April 11, 2014, Glasgow


The Untold Story: By Our Own Tongues

The panel brought together two contemporary writers from the Caribbean, Joanne Hillhouse and Ivory Kelly, with the Scots Gaelic author Martin MacIntyre.

You can read a report of the event here.

Commonwealth Shorts

Commonwealth5Commonwealth Shorts was a capacity-building scheme to give emerging writers/directors the opportunity to make a film which highlights issues affecting them and their communities on the theme of relationships. It was a partnership between Commonwealth Writers, B3 Media and CBA Worldview. The one documentary and four dramas explore migration, indigenous rights, and same-sex relationships.

The five filmmakers—Kareem Mortimer from Bahamas, Lisa Harewood from Barbados, Jules Koostachin from Canada, Wanjiru Kairu from Kenya, and Oscar Kightley from New Zealand—were selected from hundreds of submissions from across the Commonwealth and underwent an intensive development process with the project partners to produce the films. You can watch all the films here.

For further information about our projects please visit our website: www.commonwealthwriters.org. You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter (@cwwriters).


Posted: Apr 23, 2014

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