Commonwealth Short Story Prize craft development

Posted on 20/12/2018
By Commonwealth Foundation

Commonwealth Writers is developing the craft of selected writers who enter the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.  In the years of delivering the Prize, it has been noted by both judges and reviewers that there is an abundance of entries that are marked by originality, voice, interesting stories to tell and a potential to reach the shortlist but who would benefit from further enhancement of their craft to succeed. Such writers are identified from their prize submissions and included in a bespoke craft development initiative.


Southern African worksop Caribbean workshop

Southern Africa workshop

Writers from Southern Africa took part in the second Commonwealth Short Story Prize creative writing workshop in Lusaka, Zambia, in November 2018, led by authors Ellen Banda-Aaku and Damon Galgut.

In this workshop the facilitators prompted the writers to consciously think about what a story is, as well as how they write, in particular how they write a short story, questioning who’s telling the story, and looking at the beginning, the end, the plot, the characters and the dialogue. The workshop emphasised the importance to being able to distance yourself from your work in order to revise and edit it, as well as discussing the realities of writing and publishing in Africa.

  1. Wame Molefhe (Botswana)
  2. Priscillar Matara (Botswana)
  3. Helsea Ikwanga (Malawi)
  4. Chimwemwe Maluwa (Malawi)
  5. Rodney Gariseb (Namibia)
  6. Katiso Thatho (Lesotho)
  7. Mammatli Molefi (Lesotho)
  8. Peter Nawa (Zambia)
  9. Milan Sichinga (Zambia)
  10. Tukiya Fundafunda (Zambia)
Read Tukiya's blog on the workshop

Caribbean workshop

Writers from across the Caribbean took part in the first creative writing workshop aligned to the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. The workshop took place in Barbados in June 2018, and was led by authors Jacob Ross and Karen Lord. The prize workshops are aimed at writers who have submitted entries to the short story prize but have not yet made the shortlist.

During the workshop particular emphasis was not only put on how we tell stories but why we tell stories and the way we construct stories; the use of dialect (‘a brilliant tool which should be used’) and how to write dialect; freedom to use words without explanation; and using the island voice which is different between islands and within islands.

  1. Joanne Hillhouse, Antigua & Barbuda
  2. Davidson Toussaint, Grenada
  3. Richie Maitland, Grenada
  4. Katherine Atkinson, Saint Lucia
  5. Alexia Tolas, Bahamas
  6. Angela Barry, Bermuda
  7. Regina Ferguson, Bermuda
  8. Yesha Townsend, Bermuda
  9. Tammi Browne-Bannister, Barbados
  10. Shakirah Bourne, Barbados
  11. Carlie Pipe, Barbados
  12. Sharma Taylor, Jamaica

‘We have not yet begun to explore Caribbean ways of telling’, Jacob Ross

‘Every participant showed interest and dedication, ranging from the occasional writer who felt her creativity reawakened by the workshop and the talks with her peers (‘I’ve started dreaming again’), to the professional and semi-professional writers who felt newly motivated to revise and finish work in progress, and to plan new projects for submission to both competitions and regional/international markets.’

Karen Lord and Jacob Ross, workshop facilitators

‘I return home feeling energized and motivated (about) my writing having received specific feedback on works in progress, re-affirmation regarding my writing, and reminders that though it may often feel that way, regarding our experiences as writers/artists/creatives in the Caribbean region, we are not alone’ Joanne Hillhouse

‘ … know that I am irreversibly altered in such a way that I can’t imagine not having gone to Barbados to encounter such audacious affirmation. This is how one stays the course in this life of art. Thank you for being a catalyst.’ Yesha Townsend

‘I have such a great new vigour for my creative writing.’ Carlie Pipe

‘It’s wonderful knowing that we had this support system to help us grow.’ Alexia Tolas

‘A life-changing experience’, Sharma Taylor