The Chris Al-Aswad Prize was awarded last Friday — the inaugural winner is the very deserving Johanna Harness, creator of the #amwriting community.
If you haven’t heard of it before, the Chris Al-Aswad Prize is an annual award for outstanding contribution to breaking down barriers in the arts. Curated by the eight cuts gallery, the prize is named after Chris Al-Aswad (founder of Escape Into Life), and recognises those individuals and projects who follow Chris’ ideals of fostering community spirit and appreciation for art and literature.
As a long-standing member of the #amwriting community, I have long admired Johanna’s generosity, support and enthusiasm — she has created, on twitter, a space for writers from all backgrounds to discuss, connect and share their experiences. It goes without saying that I think this is a very deserving win.
As Johanna so eloquently puts it:
I don’t care what you write or how you write it. I don’t care if you’re a planner or a pantster. I don’t care how much formal education you’ve completed. I don’t care how old you are or how long you’ve been writing, if you’re a newbie or a sage. You don’t have to prove your credentials to be included. You do, however, have to show up and write alongside other writers on twitter. You have to say, “Here I am. I’m writing too.” And we say “welcome.” That’s all there is. It’s what we do.