Christopher Al-Aswad Prize Shortlist

(We have a Facebook page now – do come and “like” us and say hi)

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

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.

follow on twitter

And Other Stories

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

follow on twitter

The Fiction Project

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

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.

follow on twitter

Sabina England

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.

follow on twitter

The Sad Red Earth

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.

follow on twitter

This entry was posted in Chris Al-Aswad Prize and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Christopher Al-Aswad Prize Shortlist

  1. Pingback: the sad red earth » Christopher Al-Aswad Prize

  2. Wow! Amazing to be listed with these great people. Thank you so much.

  3. danholloway says:

    Johanna, what you’ve achieved is fantastic. And hugely appreciatd by very many people

  4. meg says:

    Johanna. What a wonderful accomplishment. Well done! And what a wonderful list that supports the arts.

  5. Was chuffed and surprised to make it to the longlist, but I applaud the shortlist choices and must make a case for #amwriting because it is more than a hashtag. It’s a comfort. It is an expression of intention. This last year has been more about editing and marketing for me than writing (unfortunately) but I still pop over and read the #amwriting messages, and every time I see #amwriting appear in the tweet stream it reminds me that editing and marketing are just part of the process I have to go through. Ultimately, I’m happiest when I can use the words #amwriting .

    Facebook has the relationship status – you change it to prove a commitment to your significant other. However significant your ‘other’, if you are a writer there is always one more ‘other’ – your writing. When you type ‘#amwriting’ you prove your commitment as a writer to that significant other. The first time an aspiring writer types ‘#amwriting’ is an overlooked modern rite of passage. It expresses the act of writing, but it also expresses the act of being a writer. ‘I am a writer’ can be said without need for a publishing hierarchy. You just need to write, and to express that deliberate act to others. #amwriting lets you do that.

    The Shorty Awards overlooked this community. It was a finalist, but should have won. It must not be overlooked again. It helps so many more people than Johanna could know – and they don’t all appear on a search for the hashtag. Every person who finally picks up a pen or opens a Word document and starts their journey towards publication because of the ‘drip, drip’ nourishment of the appearance of #amwriting in their own Twitter stream is thankful for that hashtag. Johanna may never know how many people she has helped.


  6. danholloway says:

    Some wonderful tributes.

  7. Pingback: christopher al-aswad prize | eight cuts

  8. Do the public vote on these nominations Dan?

  9. danholloway says:

    No, I very much didn’t want this to be a popularity contest, but I DO want people to go and support all the nominees. I am consulting the Escape Into Life team, and will also be in consultation with those who are offering prizes to make sure that we are able to maximise the benefit of those prizes.

  10. Pingback: The Thomas Stolperer Blog | eight cuts

  11. Pingback: Don't Hear, Listen» Interview with Punk Play-write and Filmmaker Sabina England:

  12. Pingback: The Fiction Project | eight cuts

  13. Pingback: Christopher Al-Aswad Prize Winner | eight cuts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s