The Christopher Al-Aswad Prize is awarded on October 1st annually for outstanding contribution to breaking down barriers in literature and between literature and other arts. Chris Al-Aswad, who died in July 2010 aged just 31, was the genius behind Escape Into Life, a site that built thousands of artists and writers together into a community infused with his generosity, compassion, creativity and vision. It recognises individuals, projects, and organisations whose work to bring down barriers reflects his ideals.
The award itself will consist of support from within the arts community, members of which have generously donated their time to promote the recipient’s work. You will find a list here – if you would like to contribute, anything from a blog post to a gallery floor, please get in touch, e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Barriers take many forms, and in deciding upon this shortlist, from thousands of possibilities, and many nominations from readers and tweeters, the intention has been to reflect that diversity. Please, take time to look through the links, follow on twitter, and get behind these wonderful people and groups. And PLEASE, click on the “share” button at the bottom of the page and let everyone you can know about them.
I will be devoting individual posts to the nominees through the month, before announcing the winner on October 1st.
#amwriting is a hashtag on twitter that brings together tousands of writers on twitter into a sharing, supportive, creative community. Its highly informal origins have grown, thanks to the passion, tirelessness, and selflessness of Johanna Harness, into a flourishing creative community.
And Other Stories is a new way of publishing, collectively owned by its partners who buy in to get a say in all things editorial. Its purpose, to bring previously untranslated fiction to our shelves, is wonderful, and the enthusiasm with which it is executed through live readings is inspirational
Public participation is everywhere at the moment, but this is the very best of all. Art House Co-operative sent out a moleskine to everyone who signed up, to fill as they pleased provided they mixed art and words, and return, to form a permanent exhibit at the Brooklyn Library. 778 people took up the challenge, creating an incredible archive in perpetuity.
Hip Hop Gives Back brings the hip hop community together, celebrating its culture, and giving back to the communities from which it sprung, empowering and changing them from within.
Sabina England is a writer, a playwright whose work has been performed on both side of the Atlantic, and a filmmaker behind the brilliant Velma Sabina YouTube show. She is also deaf, her videos entirely signed. She is also a Muslim. And a punk. All of which are integral to her work. She is an inspirational role model, but she is so much more than that.
The Sad Red Earth is a project set up by writer A Jay Adler, and photographer Julia Dean, who travel the States meticulously archiving a Native American culture in danger of being silenced and lost forever.