Small Wonder Short Story Festival

| by Daisy Leitch

Find out about this year's International Writer in Residence Helen Klonaris

Our British Council and Small Wonder Festival International Writer in Residence programme is now in its third groundbreaking year. After a selection process Helen Klonaris was chosen and will be welcomed for a residency at Small Wonder Festival at the end of September 2017.

Helen Klonaris is a Bahamian writer, performer, and teacher who lives between the Bay Area, California and Nassau, Bahamas. As a human rights activist, she co-founded several organisations including The Rainbow Alliance of the Bahamas, and Woman Speak: A Journal for Caribbean Women’s Literature and Art, among others. Her work has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies and her short story ‘Cowboy’ was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Helen is the co-editor with Amir Rabiyah of the anthology Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices, and her debut collection of short stories, If I Had the Wings, has just been published.

Helen says: “I was quite emotional when I found out I had been selected for the British Council’s Writer in Residence at Small Wonder. I felt seen and valued as a writer. I love the attention Small Wonder gives to the short story and I’m looking forward to being in the thick of the energy of writers passionate about the form and their craft. I’m an islander, and I like to think of short stories as small places where the possibilities for transformation are potent. I’m excited to experience that potency at Small Wonder, to partake of it, to be inspired to experiment and to write new stories from it. These times need our stories, I think. And the Small Wonder Short Story Festival is an incredible convergence of some of the world’s most captivating storytellers. I’m thrilled and honored to have this opportunity to experience Small Wonder, its writers, and the magic of Charleston!

Helen will be attending all events, responding to the festival in writing, and appearing in Welcome to the Caribbean on Saturday 30 September along with Olive Senior, Anthony Joseph, and Nicholas Laughlin. You can also read an interview with Helen.



Previous International Writers in Residence at Small Wonder: 


  • 2016 Kasigo Lesego Molope born and raised in Pretoria, South Africa, Kagiso Lesego Molope moved to Canada in 1997 to study. She has written three novels for young adults, published by OUP SA: Dancing in the Dust, The Mending Season, which is now included on the national school curriculum in South Africa, and This Book Betrays My Brother, which won the 2014 Percy Fitzpatrick Prize, awarded by the English Academy of Southern Africa. Kagiso will be attending all events at Small Wonder, meeting with our authors and responding creatively to the festival. On learning she had been awarded the residency, Kagiso said: “The most exciting part of this residency is spending time with other writers. Writing can be a very isolating profession, so I feel very lucky to have this opportunity to get out and connect with authors and improve my short story writing skills. I’ve written novels but I’ve been more intimidated by my short stories, so this is a chance for me to take them out and work on them in a supportive environment.”

  • 2015 Barbara Jenkins “It’s the first time I’ll be at a festival dedicated solely to the short story, my absolute favourite form. I’m devoted to Alice Munro’s work above all, but I’ll just as happily read and reread Chekov in translation or Carver or Welty. So it’s a thrill to know I’ll be completely immersed in short stories and short story writers for a long weekend. If I’m not too overawed, I’m gonna have me the time of my life. Then there’s Charleston House and its ghosts to investigate. I’m particularly interested in Vanessa Bell’s daughter, Angelica Garnett, and her bittersweet relationship with the house and its history.”


Small Wonder Festival is Charleston’s annual celebration of short stories in all their different shapes and guises. This year’s Small Wonder includes many nationalities and storytelling traditions and takes place from 27th September to 1st October. 

Listen to our podcast with Helen recorded at Charleston. 

2017. 02.10. Charleston stormy garden. penelope fewster

Photo by Penelope Fewster 

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