At the National Magazine Awards Foundation we are getting very excited about the upcoming year, our 38th recognizing and rewarding the very best in Canadian magazines. We’ll be announcing our call for entries on December 1. Here are the important dates for the coming year:
As always, there are many ways to keep current with news and updates from the National Magazine Awards: sign up for our e-newsletter; follow us on Twitter @MagAwards and Facebook; and come back and visit this blog often.
Starting next week, you can submit your entries to the National Magazine Awards at magazine-awards.com.
A brand-new “hyperlocal” city magazine is coming to Edmonton readers next week. The Yards, edited by National Magazine Award-winning writer Omar Mouallem, promises to be a “quarterly glossy/newsprint publication [that] focuses on cultural, planning and social issues in central Edmonton, particularly in Downtown and Oliver, two neighbourhoods experiencing enormous growth over the decade.” The magazine’s name is a tribute to the rail yards which pass through those two dynamic neighbourhoods.
Said Mouallem via press release:
“Newspapers and newsrooms are shrinking, but there’s still hunger for local news—especially in a city growing as steadily as Edmonton. Nowhere is this excitement and uncertainty more visible than in the city’s core. So as a hyperlocal magazine we can home in on that growth, in on our backyards, and we can understand it and access it better than anyone else.”
The first issue will launch next week in a partnership between the Central Edmonton News Society and the Oliver and Downtown Edmonton Community Leagues. In addition to Mouallem as editor, the staff includes Vikki Wiercinski as designer and the first issue will include contributions from Jennifer Cockrall-King, Tim Querengesser, Tyler Biard, Studio Tipi and Scott McKeen.
The National Magazine Awards Foundation strives to ensure that the awards recognize the best work from Canadian magazines. To help ensure a broad base of participation, this year we are offering one (1) FREE ENTRY to the National Magazine Awards to all magazines whose annual revenue is $200,000 or less. [Version française].
Applications are being accepted now; submissions for the 2014 National Magazine Awards will open on December 1.
Why should you take advantage of the Small Magazine Rebate?
New Readers: Award-winning magazines attract new readers who are hungry for great stories.
Bragging Rights: Tell your readers and supporters that you are delivering the best and most credible content, recognized by your peers in the magazine industry.
Get Noticed: With a National Magazine Award, writers and artists find new audiences for their creative work.
Celebrate Your Creators: Editors, publishers and art directors have the opportunity to reward creative talent.
We Promote You: The NMAF works year-round to promote award-winning magazines and creators through mass media publicity, social media channels, newsstand promotions and more.
Because small magazines do so much with so little already.
In-depth journalism is expensive, and so most outlets are shying away from it [and] it needs to be supported by genuine investigative journalism that offers trustworthy and thorough research along with genuine writing talent (to keep us reading!). The NMAs mean a great deal to people in the magazine industry and to writers in general; they indicate what is working at a high level and signal to the country what might be worth paying attention to.
— Curtis Gillespie, editor of Eighteen Bridges
Because literary magazines are a critical component of Canadian culture and their work deserves recognition.
Because winning a National Magazine Award helps take your magazine to the next level.
After our first NMA a lot of illustrators and writers who hadn’t really been looking at us started submitting work our way. It definitely helped us grow and added some more established voices to our ever-expanding list of contributors. I guess you could say that award helped us beef up subsequent issues, including Feathertale 9, which won Gold for Best Single Issue last year.
— Brett Popplewell, editor of The Feathertale Review
Because without the participation of small magazines, the NMAF would not be able to represent the wonderful work of Canada’s best literary and visual artists.
The NMA is a big award and I’m extremely grateful to have won it. I’m sure it has done quite a bit to promote my work and lift my profile as a documentary photographer. Above all else, I’m happy that this award brought the story to more viewers.
— Ian Willms, NMA-winning photojournalist for This Magazine
The 2014 Governor General’s Literary Awards have been announced, and we are delighted to see several wonderful books by National Magazine Award winners among those chosen as Canada’s best of the year.
In Children’s Literature (Illustration) the winner is Jillian Tamaki for This One Summer (Groundwood Books), with text by her sister Mariko Tamaki. Jillian is a 4-time National Magazine Award-winning illustrator whose work has appeared in The Walrus, More and other great Canadian magazines. Read our Off the Page interview with Jillian about her career and illustration work. Check out Jillian’s award-winning illustrations in the NMA archive.
In Non-Fiction, the winner is Michael Harris, for The End of Absence (Harper Collins), an exploration of the gains and losses of living in a hyper-connected world. Michael has twice been nominated for a National Magazine Award for his journalism in The Walrus, most recently for his profile of civil rights attorney Joseph Arvay. Read more in the NMA archive.
In Fiction, the winner is Thomas King, for The Back of the Turtle (Harper Collins). Thomas King won a National Magazine Award for Fiction in 1991 for his story “Borders” published in Saturday Night.
The ceremonies to honour this year’s Governor General’s literary award winners will be held on November 26 (English-language winners) and November 27 (French-language winners) in Ottawa. Read up on all the finalists and winners at ggbooks.ca.
Off the Page is back. In the latest installment of our popular interview series, we chat with National Magazine Award finalist and freelance writer Arno Kopecky, author of The Oilman and the Sea, shortlisted for this year’s Governor General’s Literary Awards.
NMAF: You’re an intrepid magazine journalist. We’ve read your reporting fromIcelandandColumbiaand others in The Walrus, fromBeaver Lakein Alberta Views, and recently from the British Columbia coast in the Reader’s Digest story “The $273 Billion Question,” for which you were a finalist for a National Magazine Award this past spring. How did you get started on this journey to a freelance magazine writing career, and what do you find personally or professionally rewarding about it?
Arno: Intrepid? Thanks, but groping in the dark is usually how it feels. I studied creative writing at the University of Victoria, and when I graduated in 2002 I realized I had no idea how the world worked, let alone how to write about it; so, on Bertrand Russell’s advice, I travelled. Moved to Spain and got a job teaching English, and after two years I’d learned (barely) enough Spanish to land a reporting internship in Oaxaca, Mexico. A string of magazine and newspaper internships followed: New York, Toronto, Nairobi. I was basically a professional intern for a few years. Somewhere along the way I started selling the odd story to various publications, and before long I was too old to be an intern, but the writing and travelling continued.
The thing I love about my “job” is what I think many journalists love, whether they travel or not: Writing gives us an excuse to meet interesting people doing interesting things. We get to join the conversation.
NMAF: The RD feature story appears to have led to an even larger project, your latest bookThe Oilman and the Sea(Douglas & McIntyre), which won the 2014 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction and is shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. Was there momentum from your fascinating voyage up the BC coastline to the magazine article to the book, and how did your writing journey proceed?
Arno: Actually it was the other way round: the book contract came first. I pitched the idea to my then-editor at Douglas & McIntyre about two days after my friend Ilja Herb (whose photographs are in the magazine story and book) bought a 41-foot sailboat. We wanted to see the oil tanker routes proposed by Northern Gateway for ourselves, and it was clear from the beginning that the trip would generate tens of thousands of words, if only we could find a home for them. Douglas & McIntyre signed on early and gave us the reason we needed to pursue the expedition.
But Reader’s Digest signed on very quickly as well, and was hugely supportive from the outset. My editor there fought to get me real estate for one of the longest stories that magazine has published in recent history.
Two weeks after I got home from the sailing trip, D&M went bankrupt. Suddenly that Reader’s Digest feature was the only thing I had going for me. Thankfully, Harbour Publishing swept in to the rescue and resuscitated D&M, so that by the time my RD feature was on the stands I had a book contract once again. All I had to do was… write a book.
NMAF: Your approach as a writer to the complex debate about the Northern Gateway pipeline could be characterized by journalistic curiosity, a sense of adventure (to say the least) and perhaps a sense of responsibility, at least with respect to seeking out grassroots perspectives in places such as Bella Bella, Kitimat and others. Was there a particular place or event in the evolving process that made you think, This is the heart of the story, this will grab the reader’s (and editor’s) attention?
Arno: The Great Bear Rainforest–as the north and central coast of British Columbia is known– was itself the thing that captivated me from the outset. In some ways it’s the story’s central character. Here’s this Switzerland-sized labyrinth of whale-jammed fjords and evergreen islands on BC’s north and central coast, the biggest chunk of temperate coastal rainforest left on earth, that also happens to be one of the oldest continually inhabited regions on the planet–Heiltsuk, Haisla, Haida, Gitga’at and many other coastal First Nations have called this place home since the last ice age. I’m not sure how many Canadians are aware of its existence. The fact that oil tankers are now poised to navigate through those waters for the first time was, in some ways, just an excuse to talk about this teeming, volatile, amphibious zone, the likes of which happen not to exist anywhere else on the planet.
NMAF: What is the significance to you of being nominated for or winning awards for your work, whether National Magazine Awards or others? Is there (or do you foresee) a measurable impact on your career?
Arno: I heard a debate on CBC a while back as to whether there weren’t too many awards in Canada’s literary scene these days; that may well be true, but it doesn’t feel so when you get a nomination yourself. It’s become a cliché, how hard it is to make a living at writing, and anyone who wants to give writers a few bucks and some attention-grabbing praise has my everlasting gratitude.
That said, it’s hard to measure what the impact is on your career. Doors crack open, but you still have to push through; money comes, and then it goes. I guess for me personally, insecure hack that I am, the psychological boost that comes with an award is its most lasting aspect. Recognition helps put the self-doubting demons to rest, and it can be called on to subdue them when they inevitably reappear.
Last night at the annual Giller Gala in Toronto, Montreal-based writer Sean Michaels won the $100,000 prize for his debut novel, Us Conductors. This remarkable story, noted the CBC, is
“… inspired by the life of Lev Sergeyevich Termen, the Russian inventor of the eerily beautiful theremin, taking him from the rambunctious New York clubs of the 1930s to the bleak gulags of the Soviet Union. The Giller jury praised Michaels’ writing, saying “he succeeds at one of the hardest things a writer can do: he makes music seem to sing from the pages of a novel.”
Like many a former Giller nominee and winner, Sean Michaels has built a successful career as a magazine writer. First nominated for a National Magazine Award for his music criticism in Maisonneuve, he won a gold medal National Magazine Award in 2010 for his essay “The Lizard, the Catacombs and the Clock” in the literary magazine Brick.
The intoxicating story of the underground labyrinths of Paris and the cataphiles who spelunk within them, Sean Michaels explored one of the more mysterious sides of the world’s most-visited city.
Parisians call it a gruyère. For hundreds of years, the catacombs under the city have been a conduit, sanctuary, and birthplace for its secrets. The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables’ Jean Valjean both haunted these tunnels, striking students descended in 1968, as did patriots during the Second World War. The Nazis visited too, building a bunker in the maze below the 6th arrondissement.
In 2012 Sean Michaels won a second National Magazine Award, alongside veteran Canadian photojournalist Roger LeMoyne, in the Words & Pictures category for “Ringmasters” – a portrait of Montreal’s Tohu circus published in The Walrus.
But the artists still remember what drew them under the lights: the risk, the thrill, the chance to brush up against another world. Experiments are once again taking place in the streets, in the metro — or even at Tohu, where management rents studios for as little as $2 an hour: a troupe called Recircle salvages equipment from the trash, while Cirque Alfonse reinvents the family circus with a show that turns Québécois stereotypes (sometimes literally) on their heads.
Update: A memorial for Don Obe will be held on Friday, November 21, in the East Common Room ofHart Houseat the University of Toronto, from 5:30-8:00pm. All are welcome.
With great sadness and yet also inspired by the outpouring of remarkable tributes to a titan of Canadian magazine journalism, we remember the life and career of Don Obe, who passed away Friday. A former recipient of the NMAF’s Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement (1993) for his remarkable contribution to the Canadian magazine industry as an editor, writer, teacher and mentor, Don was beloved by countless colleagues and students at Ryerson University where he oversaw the j-school program and the Ryerson Review of Journalism.
Before joining the faculty of Ryerson, where he taught many of Canada’s brightest journalists, Don was associate editor at Maclean’s and editor-in-chief of The Canadian and Toronto Life. In 1983 he became the chair of Ryerson’s journalism program where he founded the RRJ in 1984 and established it as Canada’s premier student magazine. He also won a National Magazine Award for Religious Journalism in 1982 for his story “The Dissident Rabbi” (Toronto Life). From 1989-1999 he was a resident editor of Creative Nonfiction at the Banff Centre for the Arts. He retired from Ryerson in 2001 but remained a mentor and inspiration to many.
Don was one of the great characters of modern Canadian journalism. He could be funny, biting, sweet, profane, hard-assed and kind, sometimes simultaneously. He was, for decades, the kind of journalist about which movies are made: hard-drinking and irascible with a soft heart. He was an important mentor of mine, as a writer, editor and, especially, as a teacher. But do you know what really matters? I owe everything I know about the soul of journalism to him.
— David Hayes, 2-time NMA winner and current NMAF board member
I met Don Obe in 1974. Today, I was with him shortly before his death at 78. In the intervening 40 years he had a substantial impact on journalism–particularly magazine journalism–in this country. I join many of his former students at Ryerson, his writers at the Banff nonfiction program and his colleagues in the business in remembering Don as the trailblazer he was.
— Lynn Cunningham, 2-time NMA winner and former recipient of the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement
I still hear him in my head: “Magazine writing is an intellectual exercise: it involves a lot more thinking than anything else”; “If you can’t write better than other people talk, you’re in the wrong business”; “Style at the expense of clarity is a waste of words.” But quoting his advice does nothing to capture his passion for journalism and writing, especially narrative non-fiction, or his love of sharing that passion.
— Tim Falconer, NMA winner and instructor on the RRJ
Our thoughts are with Don’s family and friends, and the National Magazine Awards Foundation is honoured to be among those who have been touched by and celebrate Don’s life and achievements, and the impact he made on Canadian magazine journalists.
The Ryerson School of Journalism has announced that a memorial for Don Obe will be held on Friday, November 21 in the East Common Room of Hart House at the University of Toronto, from 5:30-8:00pm. All are welcome.