The English Writers’ Cooperative
The English Writers’ Cooperative (EWC) was started in 1989 by Anne Ranasinghe, Maureen Seneviratne and Rajiva Wijesinha. The idea was to encourage creative writing in English and promote an interest in English literature. The EWC intended to create a forum, or ‘a channel’ for publication of good creative writing be it stories, poems, plays, belles letters or translations into English. In the first edition of ‘Channels’, EWC’s journal of creative writing, Maureen Seneviratne’s editorial said it was ‘in a milieu where writers find it almost impossible to find publishers for their work and the encouragement they need. We hope to spur them on to more creative writing’.
As per the Article of Understanding (Constitution) and general member consensus, Membership was by invitation only to writers resident in Sri Lanka and SL writers resident abroad.
The EWC began publishing ‘Channels’ twice yearly. The writing submitted was original, or translations of creative merit, unpublished or out of print.
In those early years the EWC presented a monthly programme, collaborating with British Council, on individual writer members discussing and reading from their work. The British Council also assisted with funding in the early years. ‘Channels’ editors advertised for submissions to the journal, and many notable Sri Lankan writers contributed.
EWC has over the past several years conducted workshops and seminars, inviting well known writers and academics to give talks to the members and guests, particularly focused on young and aspiring writers. Many Gratiaen award winners, State Literary Award and other national award winners have featured in these programmes. EWC holds an annual public evening of reading of poetry, prose and music, selected from members’ and past members’ writings, and other notable authors. EWC now includes a wide array of literary interests for the public.
Almost all of Sri Lanka’s award winning writers have at some point of time been members of the EWC.