Commonwealth Writers inspires, develops and connects writers and storytellers across the world. Well-told stories can help people make sense of events and issues as well as engage and inspire people to take action for social change.

Commonwealth Writers, the Foundation’s cultural initiative, will contribute to governance by helping storytellers to influence public discourse with well-told stories around issues that matter to society. Commonwealth Writers supports civic voices and creative practitioners in a range of media such as prose – short stories, creative fiction and non-fiction, poetry and film.

The Writers team work in two broad areas (1) craft development of stories in collaboration with editors, translators and filmmakers; (2) enabling writers and other storytellers to access spaces and platforms to amplify their stories and enlarge the space in which public discourse can be influenced by less heard voices.

Platforms will increasingly be virtual – such as, the Foundation’s online ‘gathering of stories’. Opportunities are also sought to create and open access to other platforms such as discussion spaces, conferences, literary and film festivals and the media. Commonwealth Writers also works in partnership with publishers to publish and disseminate the stories of less-heard voices in anthologies and literary magazines such as Granta.

  • So Many Islands: an anthology of stories from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific Oceans

    Marlon James, winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize, writes in his introduction to So Many Islands that the collection represents ‘real globalism’: ‘a glorious cacophony that seeks no common ground other than attitude. Stories and poems that exist in no other context than their own, characters who owe only to themselves, and writers who […]

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  • The power of stories at the Commonwealth People’s Forum 2018

    Gaiutra Bahadur’s essay in We Mark Your Memory, a forthcoming anthology of writing by descendants of indenture, segues from Britain’s exit from the European Union into an exploration of her Guyanese great-uncle’s identity: a grandchild of indentured labour and an economist at the Commonwealth Secretariat. This connection comes as Bahadur considers an increasingly pressing question: […]

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  • The inaugural Festival of Commonwealth Film

    Something amazing happens when I watch a film. I sit down, it begins, and if it’s any good, I’m transported to another world. The screen is a window, and through it I can see into any situation, any character’s experience, any culture. That’s why I find myself so frustrated with the state of cinema most […]

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  • Can stories create change? Commonwealth Conversations at Civil Society Week

    Can stories told through the medium of films, short stories and poetry, change the way people perceive social problems and challenge deep rooted social issues? High profile journalistic exposés can trigger change. But how can the stories of citizens sharing experiences of, for example, gender based violence influence public discussion around broader gender and power […]

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  • Telling the story of indigenous survival

    In October, I received an email from the Commonwealth Foundation. It contained an invitation to participate in the International Civil Society Week (ICSW) to be held in December in Fiji. The theme: Our Planet, Our Struggle, Our Future. My heart raced as I blinked at the phone. I only had to confirm my attendance. I told […]

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  • Through a different lens

    Despite extensive planning, when Commonwealth Writers start work on a creative project, we don’t always know the exact course it will take or what unexpected results it will achieve. In 2012 we launched a capacity building scheme to give emerging writer-directors the opportunity to make a film on the theme of relationships. Five filmmakers – […]

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  • Indentured Labour Anthology

    In 2018 Commonwealth Writers and the School of Advanced Study, University of London, will jointly publish an anthology of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction which explores the legacy of the practice of indentured labour.

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  • The occasional hum of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize

    ABOVE: Regional Winners in Singapore from left to right: Ingrid Persaud (for Caribbean region), Tracy Fells (for Canada and Europe region), Nat Newman (for Pacific region), Short Story Prize Judge Jacob Ross , Anushka Jasraj (for Asia region) and Akwaeke Emezi (for Africa region).   “And occasions being occasional, are a reason to hum…” It’s […]

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  • Adda: new stories, global voices

    The online community of Commonwealth Writers has grown exponentially in recent years, with our online activity achieving a truly global reach. In this we saw an opportunity: to create a place where writers and readers can talk to each other, across global and geopolitical divides.

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  • Global South Initiative on Arts and Culture

    Arts and culture have emerged as key areas of focus in the global discourse on sustainable development. In May of 2014, the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies partnered with other international networks including Agenda 21 for Culture, the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity, Culture Action Europe, Arterial Network, and other […]

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