Off the Page appears regularly on the Magazine Awards blog. Today we catch up with writer J.B. MacKinnon, winner of 11 National Magazine Awards and author of The Once and Future World (Random House Canada).
NMAF: In an essay titled “A 10 Percent World” (The Walrus, September 2010), you argued that humanity’s vision of an idyllic past is myopic; that in seeking to temper the impact that we have on our environment, our purpose “is not to demand some return to a pre-human Eden, but rather to expand our options”; that “our sense of what is possible sets limits on our dreams.” What did you mean by expanding our options beyond the limits?
J.B.: “A 10 Percent World” looks at the natural world of the historical past—a much richer and more abundant state of nature than we know today. We’ve largely forgotten this more plentiful world, and that limits our sense of the possible.
Yes, it’s depressing to find out that grizzly bears used to live on the Canadian Prairies and they don’t any more, or that Vancouver waters were home to a year-round population of humpback whales that were all slaughtered by 1908. But if we aren’t aware of these facts, then the absence of the bears and the whales seems normal. When we do become aware of them, we’re able to set a higher bar for our vision of what nature can be.
NMAF: That essay won a National Magazine Award in 2011. What impact did the magazine publication and the award have on your decision to pursue a book project, resulting in your recently published The Once and Future World?
“A 10 Percent World” was that initial foray into the depths. The story had an impact on readers, and when it also won a magazine award I was able to move forward on the book with a lot more confidence.
NMAF: You’ve been a professional writer for more than a decade, with 11 National Magazine Awards (and 31 nominations). What role do Canadian magazines play in your career, and what significance do you put on winning awards?
J.B.: I became a writer during the largely overlooked great recession of the early 1990s, and the limited opportunities of that time made a deep impression on me. Fortunately, a few Canadian editors took a chance on my work, and I’ve been able to build from there. But I’m always trying to sharpen my teeth—to push toward deeper themes or better writing. It doesn’t always work, and I appreciate that Canadian magazines are still giving me chances. They don’t always expect me to show up with all my t’s crossed and i’s already dotted.
Awards are one way to measure whether or not what I’m doing on the page is working—the awards themselves matter less to me than the nominations. Consistent nominations tell me that I’m continuing to do work that is recognizably among the best in the country. Actually taking home a gold or silver is a much less predictable matter. Of course, when it happens, well… it never gets old, let’s say that.
J.B. MacKinnon is the award-winning author of The Once and Future World, The 100-Mile Diet and Dead Man in Paradise. His writing has appeared in great Canadian magazines including Explore, The Walrus, This Magazine and more. He was the writer for the documentary Bear 71, which explores the intersection of the wired and wild worlds through the true story of a mother grizzly bear. Discover more at jbmackinnon.com.
Off the Page appears regularly on the Magazine Awards blog. Today we catch up with Julia Belluz, whose blog–Science-ish–published by Maclean’s, won gold in the inaugural National Magazine Award for Best Blog earlier this year.
NMAF: Tell us a bit about Science-ish, what you consider its publishing niche to be, and who your readers are.
Julia: Coffee is good for your health! Coffee is bad for your health! Vitamin D will save your life! Vitamin D will kill you quicker! I created Science-ish in response to bewildering and contradictory claims like these that float around in the popular discourse.
This confusion doesn’t end with individual health choices. Politicians frequently make assertions about health that aren’t necessarily informed by evidence, as do journalists, celebrities, and anyone who thinks they can get away with it.
So the blog is a sane place where readers can learn about the actual science behind the headlines. My readers tend to be doctors, nurses, students, policy wonks, researchers, and anyone who is concerned about health and science.
NMAF: What makes an online media outlet such as Science-ish not only trustworthy but indispensable in a news world where there exists so much information and content?
Julia: As a health reporter, I see a great deal of pseudoscience-based journalism in my field, which does nothing to elevate the discourse about science and instead confounds people. To be sure, science is far from perfect. There are a lot of systemic problems with science—the limitations of peer review, the perverting influence of industry, etc.—but I think the act of going back to primary sources and scientific evidence and seeing if there’s something to glean is a worthwhile exercise.
I want to say that every blog entry is balanced, but I don’t think that’s a good word because I’m always taking a stand after reading and interviewing a lot and thinking about the arguments and counter-arguments that I have encountered. I hope that sets Science-ish apart and resonates with readers.
NMAF: What do you think is the significance of having Science-ish win a National Magazine Award, not only for you as a health and science journalist, but also for the medium of online magazine publishing?
Julia: It’s a great honuor to be recognized by peers who work across subjects and venues in journalism. It seems to be increasingly true that readers can expect good writing and reporting in many places—blogs, web pages, etc.—and it’s wonderful that the NMA recognizes that with its new online awards categories.
NMAF: You’re currently a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. Can you tell us a bit about the program and what you’re working on there?
Julia: The fellowship was designed to be a cultural exchange where journalists could learn more about science, studying alongside future researchers and scientists at MIT, while scientists could learn from visiting journalists. Right now, I’m learning about how science is made, and how it’s applied (or not) in public policy and decision-making. I’m also looking at the forces that shape what science gets done (or not). I hope this will inform my understanding of the interplay between research, policy, and practice, which is very important at a time when we’ve never generated more research, yet in many cases, we’re failing to apply or capitalize on that knowledge.
Julia Belluz is a three-time National Magazine Award-winning journalist. Her profile of the writer Ian Brown, published in the Ryerson Review of Journalism, won her the NMA for Best Student Writer in 2007 and also won a Silver in the profiles category. Science-ish is a joint project of Maclean’s, the Medical Post and the McMaster Health Forum. Follow Julia on Twitter @juliaoftoronto.
Who will win Best Magazine Blog of 2013? Submissions open next week for the 37th annual National Magazine Awards. Deadline: January 15, 2014.
Off the Page appears regularly on the Magazine Awards blog. Today we catch up with Sierra Skye Gemma, winner of the 2012 National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer.
[This post has been updated to include the new deadline for the Prism International Creative Non-fiction contest deadline: Dec 5.]
NMAF: Earlier this year you won the National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer for a story called “The Wrong Way” (The New Quarterly), a personal essay and critical meditation on the stages of grief. Tell us a bit about how you developed this story and why you decided to submit it in the annual non-fiction writing competition from TNQ?
Sierra: The Wrong Way came out of an assignment in a Creative Non-fiction course with Andreas Schroeder. I had never written a personal essay before and when I started I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to say. Not exactly, anyway. I looked up Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief because I thought it would explain my experiences. I thought I could structure my essay according to the stages, but I realized that Kübler-Ross’s theory didn’t apply to my life at all. My essay then developed as a sort of antagonistic call-and-response with conventional grief theories.
I sat and wrote it in two sittings, straight through from beginning to end. I didn’t move things around after that and I barely edited it. That said, I had bits and pieces of it already written. Little vignettes that I hadn’t known what to do with before, like the story of buying my son the fish and aquatic frog. I had also taken extensive notes when my sister died and I wrote down lots of dialogue. Maybe that sounds weird; maybe not, if you’re a writer. But what do you do with a short “scene” between siblings that, when read on its own, seems to make light of the death of another sibling? Well, I guess you build an elaborate home in which it can live. The Wrong Way was that home for many of my disjointed experiences with grief.
I submitted the essay to The New Quarterly’s Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest because Andreas Schroeder told me to submit it to a contest (and not through the slush pile of regular submissions); he thought the essay was good enough to win. The New Quarterly’s personal essay contest seemed like the obvious choice. The lesson here? Always listen to Andreas Schroeder.
NMAF: What was the significance for you as a young writer winning that contest and then the National Magazine Award?
Sierra: Winning both the contest and the NMA gave me confidence in my writing, which I never really had before. Winning the NMA also got my work noticed. After I won Best New Magazine Writer, the essay was selected to appear in the Best Canadian Essays 2013 anthology, alongside some very successful writers. It is an amazing honour that I feel would not have happened without the National Magazine Awards.
NMAF: As a writer and also an editor of PRISM International, a literary magazine published by the Creative Writing Program at UBC, you are in a good position to survey the landscape of Canadian literary arts. What are the challenges and rewards of devoting yourself to this industry?
Sierra: I think the greatest challenge to being an editor of a literary magazine (or a writer for that matter) is money. There is not a lot of money in literary magazines. Small lit mags live and die by the decisions of the Canada Council for the Arts and the various provincial Arts Councils. They live and die by the seemingly small financial decisions of their staff. They live and die by their contest entries and subscriptions and by the ebb and flow of their donations. Editing and managing a literary magazine is not a career for the lazy or the extravagant. It takes a lot of careful, cautious, and sometimes tedious work to keep a literary magazine alive.
That said, it is so emotionally rewarding. I have been a reader for the past two Creative Non-fiction Contests at PRISM and I will be a reader again this year. The emotional rollercoaster that this work has taken me on is intense. You feel the author’s highs and lows. I’ve cried and I’ve laughed until I’ve been in tears.
Although I’ve also read for other contests and other magazines, it is PRISM’s Non-fiction Contest that really makes it worth it for me because the stories are real and they matter. They matter to the author, who is risking so much to share; to the readers with whom the stories will resonate; to the editors, who have the responsibility for creating the long list and the short list; and to the contest judge who has to make the toughest decisions.
Our Creative Non-fiction Contest deadline is coming up on
November 28th [Update: December 5] and I can’t wait to start reading again!
NMAF: What are your immediate goals as a writer, and what are you working on these days?
Sierra: This summer I received a grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada to perform research for a novel set in 1950’s California. I spent three months in northern California—taking notes, visiting museums and farms, interviewing seniors and experts, and exploring the countryside—so my research is nearly completed.
I’ve been meaning to finish my outline and start writing, but I’ve been a little distracted by another project that I have been working on for over a year: a humorous and irreverent parenting book that I’m co-writing with blogger Emily Wight. We have completed our non-fiction book proposal and one sample chapter, but I’d like to get a few more chapters done before I launch into the novel.
Sierra Skye Gemma is an award-winning writer and journalist working towards an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. Aside from the National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer, this year Sierra was also honoured with the first-place award in creative non-fiction in Rhubarb’s Taboo Literary Contest, a long-list nod in House of Anansi’s Broken Social Scene Story Contest, and a BC Arts Council scholarship. She is an executive editor of PRISM international, western Canada’s oldest literary magazine. Her work has been published in The New Quarterly, The Vancouver Sun, Plenitude, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter @SierraGemma.
The National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer
Meet the finalists for Best New Magazine Writer
A Writer’s Guide to Canadian Literary Magazines
Your Guide to Fall 2013 Canadian Magazine Writing Contests
More Off the Page interviews
The Canadian photographer, now based in New York, won the Gold National Magazine Award last year in Portrait Photography, for “Never Left Art School” (a series with Douglas Coupland) in Montecristo magazine. He was previously a finalist for the Best New Visual Creator award in 2010, for “A Man Called Cope” (Report on Business).
The exhibition, “Pictures,” is on display until December 21.
From the O’Born Contemporary site: Working within portraiture and documentary photography, Peckmezian attempts to leverage the analog-digital divide, producing work that draws into relief the enduring value of analog processes in our new digital-dominated photographic landscape. He recently completed his BFA in Photography from Ryerson University in Toronto, and is represented for commercial and editorial work by Stash. His photographs have been published in Prefix Photo, on the cover of Report on Business and Function, and have been selected for inclusion in Flash Forward, touring internationally.
At last June’s MagNet magazines conference in Toronto, a golden panel of industry experts gathered to present a session called “Going for Gold: How to Create Award-Winning Content,” moderated by Deborah Rosser, president of Rosser & Associates.
The panellists were:
- Carole Beaulieu, publisher and editor-in-chief of L’actualité, winner of more than 50 National Magazine Awards since she became EIC in 1998;
- Sarah Fulford, editor-in-chief of Toronto Life, the most-nominated magazine at last year’s NMAs and former winner of Magazine of the Year (2007);
- David Hayes, freelance writer (nominated for 14 NMAs during his career, winning a gold and a silver award) and member of the board of directors of the National Magazine Awards Foundation (NMAF);
- Domenic Macri, art director at Report on Business and winner of 6 NMAs for his design and creative direction;
- Patrick Walsh, editor-in-chief and brand manager of Outdoor Canada, winner of 21 National Magazine Awards since 1987, and former president of the NMAF.
Risk and Reward: The moderator began by asking each of the panellists to present the story of a challenging piece that won a National Magazine Award, and what lessons they took from the experience.
Sarah Fulford spoke about how breaking the rules helped Toronto Life to a surprise NMA win for best magazine cover of 2008. Sarah said she and her then art director Jessica Rose, whom she hired with this specific challenge in mind, took big risks on a cover about gun violence in Toronto, as they bucked the conventions for cover design with small cover lines and other elements reflecting thinking outside the box. The issue sold well on the newsstand and also impressed the NMA judges that year, as they gave it a Gold.
Domenic Macri spoke in a similar vein about a magazine cover that won Gold the following year, 2009, at the NMAs. The Julie Dickson cover presented a challenge because the editors had agreed not to put her portrait on the magazine cover. Domenic showed the audience several of his drafts and mockups that he went through on his way to finally developing the final cover, saying that what he learned from the experience was although there are certain elements required of a good cover, “you don’t have to take the same approach all the time. I think we won the award because we came up with new directions, and because of the words.”
David Hayes mentioned an episode from 1990 when a feature story he’d written for Toronto Life wasn’t entered for an NMA that year, and after talking with his editor, who said he wasn’t able to enter the piece that year due to budget constraints, he learned that he could enter the NMAs himself. Several years later he took that experience to heart when he again discovered that an editor wouldn’t enter his story, so he entered it himself and it ended up winning Gold. “You never know what the jury will decide,” he reminded the audience, “so as a writer if you are proud of your work you should enter it.”
Patrick Walsh described the story of a controversial article he commissioned about the death of a hunter in Newfoundland, called “Another Fine Day Afield.” As an editor he felt that the story hadn’t been covered well in other media, and though it would be a legal, financial and editorial challenge to pursue the story for Outdoor Canada, he decided to take the risk. The risk paid off when the magazine story he published was picked up by CBC’s The Fifth Estate and NBC’s Inside Edition, and his writer Charles Wilkins won a Gold National Magazine Award in Sports & Recreation.
Carole Beaulieu also touted the benefits of taking risks and believing in the work you produce. She talked about a piece from last year she commissioned from a writer about Pauline Marois. Although Quebec news had been saturated with stories about the premier, Carole felt there was room for more if they could find the right angle and give it the right depth. She sent her writer to spend time with Mdm Marois at her hairdresser’s, achieving a kind of intimate portrait not yet seen, and L’actualité created a newsprint insert–what it is now calling a “mini-book” and making a semi-regular feature for the magazine–to accommodate the 16-page story. And at this year’s NMAs, “L’éttoffe d’un premier ministre,” by journalist Noémi Mercier, won Gold in Profiles.
Quote-Unquote: On the significance of winning a National Magazine Award and why we strive for award-winning content.
Sarah: “An award is useful for communicating to our stakeholders that we are successful. It adds momentum to what we do every day at the magazine… We create content to satisfy our readers, not to win awards. But it is our creators who get the awards and the cash prize, and for an editor, that’s an honour.”
David: “As writers, what we have is our reputation, and what we create should stand on its own. Awards are a feather in your cap, not the cap itself.”
Patrick: “We won because the story was beautifully written, because it was longform [5000 words]… We also took risks and winning the award was a measure of that.”
Carole: “I think we should always believe in what we do. Successful magazine stories have that ‘wow’ factor, and with everything we do we try to achieve that. You know that story matters, that content matters. If you believe you achieved success then you should enter, because then you’ll know if your peers [the jury] agree; that it made them say, ‘wow.’”
The Bottom Line: The moderator asked each panellist to distill one piece of advice for winning a National Magazine Award.
Domenic: Strive for strong collaboration between editorial and art in creating your content. Success is a product of a strong team.
Carole: Don’t take things too seriously. Trust your instincts and never give up on a great story.
Sarah: The most successful pieces are the ones where the creators were passionate and took risks.
Patrick: Be strategic, because the more you enter the more you are likely to win. If your aim is to win awards then enter as much as you can.
David: Advice to writers: write well. And advice to editors: hire writers who write well.
In Summary: Accept challenges, take risks, think differently, be passionate, find (or be) the best creator, work together, never give up on a good story, believe in your work and enter as much as you can. That, and always strive for the ‘wow’ factor!
On behalf of the Canadian magazine industry, thank you to the panellists for sharing your wisdom.
Canadian book award season continues today with the presentation of the Governor General’s Literary Awards, better known as the GGs, in Ottawa, and several former National Magazine Award winners are among the finalists.
This most comprehensive of literary awards programs honours excellence in book-length fiction, poetry, non-fiction, drama, children’s text, children’s illustration and translation, with awards for both English- and French-language entries.
In the Fiction (English) category, the finalists include former National Magazine Award winner Shyam Selvadurai, for his novel The Hungry Ghosts. Mr. Selvadurai won NMA gold for fiction in 2006, for “The Demonness Kali” published in Toronto Life.
Former NMA finalist Kenneth Bonnert is also up for a GG in fiction, for The Lion Seeker. The rest of the GG shortlist includes Eleanor Catton, Joseph Boyden and Colin McAdam.
In the Children’s Illustration (French) category, two-time National Magazine Award winner Isabelle Arsenault is among the finalists, for Jane, le Renard et moi. Ms. Arsenault won a National Magazine Award earlier this year for her work in Quebec Science magazine.
In the Poetry (English) category, the shortlist includes two-time National Magazine Award finalist Don Domanski, for his collection Bite Down Little Whisper. Mr. Domanski’s most recent National Magazine Award nomination came in 2009, for the poem “Radiance and Counterpoint” published in Grain.
Read up on all the GG finalists here. For each category, a jury, comprised of fellow authors, translators and illustrators, makes the final selection. Each GG winner receives $25,000 and a specially-bound copy of their winning book. Non-winning finalists each receive $1,000. The publisher of each winning book receives $3,000 to help promote the book. The total annual value of the GGs is close to $450,000.
National Magazine Award-winning writer Richard Wagamese, a member of the Ojibway Wabasseemoong First Nation of northern Ontario and author of 13 books, has won the inaugural Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature, presented by the non-profit CODE and the Canada Council for the Arts.
He won for his latest novel, Indian Horse (Douglas & McIntyre), a story about the journey Saul Indian Horse, a northern Ontario Ojibway man, takes back through his life, as he is dying. The runners up were novels by Tara Lee Morin and James Bartleman.
Richard Wagamese was a National Magazine Award winner in 2010 for his story “Walking by the Crooked Water,” part of an Editorial Package called “Border Lines” published by Canadian Geographic magazine.
The Burt Award’s book purchase and distribution program will ensure that a minimum of 2,500 copies of each of the three winning titles will be delivered to First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth across Canada through community libraries, schools, Friendship Centres and summer literacy camps.
The Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature was established by CODE – a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning in Canada and around the world for over 50 years – in collaboration with William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation. The Award is the result of a close collaboration with the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the National Association of Friendship Centres, Frontier College, GoodMinds, the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Canada Council for the Arts. Read more.
National Magazine Award winner Carol Shaben, whose recent book Into the Abyss began as an award-winning story in The Walrus, will speak at two public events this Wednesday, November 13, at Wilfrid Laurier University, and will receive the 2013 Edna Staebler Prize which was announced earlier this year.
First, an interview with Ms. Shaben, conducted by Bruce Gillespie, assistant professor of Journalism, will take place on Laurier’s Brantford campus from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in RCW203. Then, the presentation of the Edna Staebler award will take place on Laurier’s Waterloo campus, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Senate and Board Chamber.
Carol Shaben is a freelance writer who lives in Vancouver with her husband and son. In 2005 she left a business career to focus on her long-time passion for writing, and in 2009 she was nominated for three National Magazine Awards, winning two: a Gold Medal for Investigative Reporting and a Silver Medal for Politics and Public Interest. Into the Abyss is her first book. She was also a finalist for Best New Magazine Writer of 2009.
On Saturday, November 9 in Vancouver, Frontier College and the Raindance Festival for Independent Authors will host a fundraiser reception with National Magazine Award-winning writer JJ Lee.
According to the organizers, the reception is open to the public and will appeal to readers and writers alike. JJ Lee will answer questions, sign books, talk about the life of a full-time writer and share his observations of the Canadian publishing industry. Net proceeds will be donated to Frontier College to help fund literacy initiatives in British Columbia.
The event will be held at Earl’s Restaurant in Richmond’s Lansdowne Centre from 4 to 6 pm on Saturday, November 9. Tickets are $20 each ($25 at the door) and include an appetizer and beverage.
Founded in 1899, Frontier College is Canada’s original literacy organization and a charitable organization that recruits and trains volunteers to deliver literacy programs to children, youth and adults in communities across the country.
JJ Lee won a Gold National Magazine Award in 2011 for Best Short Feature (Elle Canada). His recent memoir, The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son and a Suit (McClelland & Stewart), was a finalist for the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, the B.C. Book Prize for Non-Fiction, the Hillary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, and the Governor General’s Literary Awards.
Tomorrow night’s presentation of the 2013 ScotiaBank Giller Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in Canadian fiction, will feature the work of five celebrated Canadian authors, three of whom have previously been nominated for National Magazine Awards.
Five-time NMA finalist Lynn Coady made the Giller shortlist for her short-story collection Hellgoing. The native of Cape Breton is also the founding editor of the magazine Eighteen Bridges, launched in 2011 and already the recipient of 20 National Magazine Award nominations and 4 medals. She was a double nominee at this year’s National Magazine Awards for her fiction (“Dogs in Clothes“) in Canadian Notes & Queries and her Arts & Entertainment essay “Publish then Perish” (Eighteen Bridges).
A National Magazine Award winner earlier this year for his essay “Precious Cargo” (Avenue magazine), Craig Davidson is shortlisted for the Giller prize this year for his novel Cataract City. The Ontario native has been nominated for 5 NMAs during his career.
Newfoundland’s Lisa Moore, twice an NMA finalist for her journalism and fiction, made the Giller shortlist for her novel Caught. Her most recent NMA nomination was for her story “Notes from Newfoundland” (The Walrus, 2011), and she was nominated in 2001 for her fiction in The Malahat Review.
Rounding out the Giller shortlist are Dan Vyleta (The Crooked Maid) and Dennis Bock (Going Home Again).
The 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner will be announced at a gala ceremony on Tuesday, November 5, during a live broadcast on CBC Television at 9:00 p.m. EST. The announcement will be available simultaneously via email press release, newswire, Scotiabank Giller Prize web site and related social media channels. The winner recieves a
$70,000 $50,000 cash prize.
This past weekend at Edmonton’s LitFest, the winners of the 2013 Dave Greber Freelance Writers Awards were announced.
In the magazine category, the prize went to four-time National Magazine Award winner Paul Webster, for his article ”Adverse Reactions,” about the controversial dismissal by the government of British Columbia of several scientists studying the province’s prescription-drug policies, published in the April 2013 issue of Vancouver Magazine.
Mr. Webster has won National Magazine Awards writing for Report on Business, Canadian Geographic and The Walrus. Earlier this year he won the Canadian Bar Association award for excellence in journalism, and has been a freelance writer and filmmaker for more than twenty years.
In the book category, the award went to freelancer Chris Benjamin of Halifax for his forthcoming book The Shubenacadie Indian Residential School, an investigative history of Atlantic Canada’s only residential school for First Nations children.
The Dave Greber Freelance Writers Awards were established to honour Dave Greber of Calgary, a long-time freelance writer, and they are unique in two ways: they provide support to working Canadian freelance writers
when they most need it in their work cycle; and they give special regard to those working in the area of social justice. Excellence of writing, research and storytelling are a benchmark of the awards.
A few years ago, Ontario native and veteran freelance writer Charles Wilkins joined the crew of an experimental rowboat expedition: 16 paddlers in the strangest-looking craft rowed across the Atlantic Ocean from Morocco to Barbados, becoming the first mariners to cross the ocean without the aid of sail or motor.
Mr. Wilkins published a chronicle of the voyage in Explore magazine, “The Big Blue,” which went on to win a Gold National Magazine Award for travel writing in 2012–the fifth NMA in Wilkins’ distinguished career as a writer. We featured the astounding story in our Summer Reading Series that year.
Following that success at the National Magazine Awards, Mr. Wilkins has published Little Ship of Fools: Sixteen Rowers, One Improbable Boat, Seven Tumultuous Weeks on the Atlantic (Greystone Books), a “rich and fascinating story of courage, community, the importance of risk in our lives, and the resilience and depth of the human spirit.”
A fascinating and hilarious read from one of Canada’s most celebrated adventure writers. Check it out at Greystone Books.
Helping my students with this e-zine that they do, I find we’re talking about social media and driving traffic and all of that and I try to say, okay that’s great but we really want the content to be what makes people want to come and read and stay. So that, I hope, does not change. And I think there is still a hardcore group of readers who still appreciate the old style longform article. I have the Longform app on my iPad and encourage my students to subscribe to that. But I also tell them that to do that sort of writing… I figure if I can do one of those a year, a labour of love, and it gets published somewhere, then that’s okay. Because they take so much work and thought and effort and time. And they are worth it, but there’s no way you could sustain yourself by writing those.
–Moira Farr, in an interview posted on Story Board’s series “The 5-Minute Freelancer Q&A.” Ms. Farr is a seven-time National Magazine Awards finalist, winning Honourable Mention this past year for “Confronting Asperger’s in the Classroom” (University Affairs).
She is a three-time National Magazine Award winner for fiction, including the first-ever such prize awarded back in 1977. She has won three Governor General’s Literary Awards, two Giller Prizes, and the Man Booker International Prize. Widely regarded as one of the greatest short-story writers the English language has ever known, at last Alice Munro has been named the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
The native of Wingham, Ontario, published her first collection of short stories, Dance of the Happy Shades, in 1968, and promptly won the Governor General’s Literary Award. In 1977, she won her first of three National Magazine Awards, for her story “Accident” originally published in Toronto Life and later with her fifth collection, The Moons of Jupiter (1982).
“Mrs. Cross and Mrs. Kidd,” published in the Tamarack Review, won her a second National Magazine Award for fiction in 1982.
And her story “Jakarta,” published in Saturday Night in 1998, won Ms. Munro a third National Magazine Award. Jakarta later appeared in the collection The Love of a Good Woman, which won the Giller Prize that year.
Now 82 and officially retired, Ms. Munro had been considered one of the favourites for the prestigious award, though only twelve women before her, in the Nobel Prize’s 113-year history, had won.
Using an epithet often ascribed to her, the Swedish Academy in announcing its decision referred to Ms. Munro as the “master of the contemporary short story.”
Upon learning of her win, she told the CBC, “I would really hope this would make people see the short story as an important art, not just something you played around with until you got a novel.”
The Friday event, called Journalism on the Rocks, will honour 12 alumni of the journalism program, including 3-time National Magazine Award winner and longtime Ryerson faculty member Don Obe. Other inductees into what the school is calling its Journalism Headliners include the late sports journalist Randy Starkman, Zarqa Nawaz, creator of the TV series Little Mosque on the Prairie, and Shelley Ambrose, co-publisher of The Walrus.
Saturday’s panel sessions will focus on Ryerson and Journalism: The Next 60 Years, featuring National Magazine Award-winning Ryerson alums Julia Belluz and Elizabeth Renzetti, as well as a number of other remarkable journalists.
It would be almost impossible to calculate how many Ryerson alumni and faculty have won National Magazine Awards or edited NMA-winning stories, but there’s no doubt the program has had a deep and meaninful impact on the Canadian magazine industry. Its highly regarded, student-run Ryerson Review of Journalism has won 6 National Magazine Awards from 30 nominations since it was founded in 1984.
Congratulations Ryerson School of Journalism on 60 great years and many more to come.
A new book by seven-time National Magazine Award winner Ann Dowsett Johnston examines the history and sociology of women and alcohol, confronting recent developments in female drinking behavior, corporate marketing and feminist theory while layering in her own story of abuse and recovery.
According to its publisher, HarperCollins Canada, Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol “combines in-depth research with [the author's] own personal story of recovery, and delivers a groundbreaking examination of a shocking yet little recognized epidemic threatening society today: the precipitous rise in risky drinking among women and girls.”
With the feminist revolution, women have closed the gender gap in their professional and educational lives. They have also achieved equality with men in more troubling areas as well. In the U.S. alone, the rates of alcohol abuse among women have skyrocketed in the past decade. DUIs, “drunkorexia” (choosing to limit eating to consume greater quantities of alcohol), and health problems connected to drinking are all rising—a problem exacerbated by the alcohol industry itself.
Ms. Johnston is a former editor at Maclean’s, where she edited the annual University Rankings for 14 years, garnering NMA nominations every year from 1992-2004. Her new book grew out of a 13-part series she produced for the Toronto Star on women and alcohol.
Did you get excited about this year’s National Magazine Award winners? Discover any new magazines that surprised and engaged you? Rekindle a love affair with a particular title?
Up to 50% off select award-winning titles, including Avenue, Azure, Canada’s History, Canadian Geographic, Canadian House & Home, Cottage Life, Eighteen Bridges, Explore, Outdoor Canada, The New Quarterly, The Walrus, Toronto Life, Up Here, Vancouver Magazine and more.
Click here to select your subscriptions.
The 17th annual Saskatchewan Festival of Words is coming your way July 18-21 in Moose Jaw, with workshops, readings, concerts, film screenings and more.
Featuring Dave Bidini, two-time National Magazine Award winner for his work in Saturday Night and Maisonneuve, and author of ten books, most recently Writing Gordon Lightfoot; Annabel Lyon, twice a National Magazine Award finalist for her fiction in Toronto Life and The New Quarterly and author of the novel The Golden Mean; Ken Babstock, 1997 NMA gold winner in Poetry for his work in Prism International, and recipient of the Griffin Poetry Prize for his collection Methodist Hatchet; Ross King, 2010 NMA nominee and 2012 Governor General Literary Award winner for The Last Supper; Candace Savage, six-time NMA finalist and winner of the Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction for A Geography of Blood; and lots more.
Make your summer reading the National Magazine Awards digital Gold Book. More than forty magazine stories and visual spreads representing the Gold winners from the 36th annual National Magazine Awards, available FREE for your computer or mobile device.
Including National Magazine Award-winning work by these Canadian literary and visual artists:
Caroline Adderson, Dave Cameron, Karen Connelly, Craig Davidson, Sierra Skye Gemma, Jessica Johnson, Tom Jokinen, Peter Ash Lee, Angus Rowe MacPherson, Greg McArthur, Leah McLaren, Conor Mihell, Jonathan Montpetit, Alison Motluk, Mark Peckmezian, Graeme Smith, Emma Teitel, Chris Turner, Jeff Warren, Sam Weber and more!
With stories from Canada’s best magazines, including Adbusters, Avenue, Azure, Canada’s History, Canadian Notes & Queries, Eighteen Bridges, Explore, Geist, Maclean’s, Maisonneuve, Reader’s Digest, Report on Business, Sportsnet, The Feathertale Review, The Grid, The New Quarterly, The Walrus, Toronto Life and more!
Congratulations to all of this year’s National Magazine Award winners, and happy summer reading to all!
At the 36th annual National Magazine Awards gala last week, the Gold Award for Best Magazine Cover went to Adbusters, for the cover of their 100th issue, entitled “Are We Happy Yet?”
Why the judges picked this cover: “It resonated loudly and immediately on all counts, with its tight connection between the striking cover image and the solitary cover line. An instant classic… [it] challenges one of the primary goals of advertising–to stimulate desires–and implicitly answers its own question. At once strong, direct, incisive, compelling and complete: a brilliant magazine cover.”
The Silver award for Magazine Covers went to Maisonneuve.
Congratulations to all the winners of the 36th National Magazine Awards.
Meet the NMA Finalists for Magazine Covers
Magazine publishers – promote your National Magazine Awards with our official 36th NMA Finalists’ and Winners’ seals. Celebrate your award-winning magazines by putting these seals on your covers, promotional material, and website.
Like the National Magazine Awards Foundation, Canadian readers look for great Canadian content. That’s why we are offering the National Magazine Awards FoundationWinner/Finalist Seals for Gold and Silver award winners, Finalists, Magazine Cover of the Year and Magazine of the Year. We encourage award-winning magazines to help create greater reader awareness of the prestige and honour that comes with winning a National Magazine Award.
Tonight the National Magazine Awards Foundation (NMAF) presented the winners of the 36th annual National Magazine Awards at a gala this evening in Toronto at The Carlu, presented by CDS Global, and hosted by Canadian actor Zaib Shaikh. Gold, Silver and Honourable Mention awards were presented in 47 categories, after the NMAF’s 250 volunteer judges evaluated 2000 submissions from nearly 200 Canadian consumer magazines.
Renowned Canadian editor, teacher and mentor Stephen Trumper was presented with the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement.
Top Winning Magazines at the 36th National Magazine Awards:
|Report on Business||
|Canadian House & Home||
|The Feathertale Review||
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE AWARDS
The article “Building with the Brigadier” (Report on Business) by Greg McArthur and Graeme Smith—about the SNC-Lavalin investment in Libya—was the most celebrated individual article of the 36th National Magazine Awards, winning two Gold Awards, in Business and in Investigative Reporting, as well as Silver in Politics & Public Interest.
The Gold award for the best Magazine Cover of the year went to Adbusters for their fast food satire “Are We Happy Yet?” by Will Brown and Pedro Inoue. “Issue 45” of Maisonneuve by Anna Minzhulina took the Silver award.
The new online literary magazine Hazlitt, in addition to winning Magazine Website of the Year, also took the Gold awards for Magazine Website Design and for best Online Video, the latter for the first installment of their interview series “Pagelicker 01: Irvine Welsh.”
Journalist Catherine Dubé of L’actualité won her eighth National Magazine Award with a Gold in Service: Health & Family, for “Faut-il interdire le cellulaire à l’école?” – one of six Gold awards won by L’actualité, the most of any magazine.
Journalists from L’actualité also won Gold in Politics & Public Interest (“Jason, le missionaire de Harper” by Alec Castonguay); in Service: Personal Finance & Business (“La guerre des retraites est commencée” by Annick Poitras); in Profiles (“L’étoffe d’un premier ministre?” by Noémi Mercier); in Photojournalism & Photo Essay (“Au coeur d’Attawapiskat” by Renaud Philippe); and in Spot Illustration (“Papa souffre, moi aussi” by Gérard Dubois).
The Grid led all publications with 7 total awards, including 5 Gold Awards: in Editorial Package: Web for their feature “Are You Going to Eat That?”; in Single Service Article Package for “The Grid Guide to Getting Hitched”; in How-To for “The Grid Guide to Buying a Condo”; in Creative Photography for “Truckin’ A!” by Angus Rowe MacPherson; and in Art Direction of a Single Magazine Article, for “Chef’s Guide to Toronto” by Vanessa Wyse.
Corduroy, an independent style and fashion magazine based in Toronto, won Gold for Art Direction of an Entire Issue (“Issue 10”) and in Fashion (“ten covers x ten models”), with art direction by Peter Ash Lee.
Writer Chris Turner led all individuals with four nominations and won Gold in Travel for “On Tipping in Cuba” in The Walrus. Mr. Turner has now won nine National Magazine Awards.
The Walrus won 6 total awards including 4 Gold: in addition to the Travel category, also winning Gold in Illustration (“Apocalypse Soon” by Sam Weber); in One-of-a-Kind (“What Would Tommy Douglas Think?” by Tom Jokinen); and in Society (“Fade to Light” by Dave Cameron).
In Words & Pictures the Gold award went to “On Thin Ice” in Canada’s History, by Terry Mosher (a.k.a. Aislin), Mark Reid and Michel Groleau.
Writer Alison Motluk won Gold in Health & Medicine for her story “Is Egg Donation Dangerous?” in Maisonneuve. For Ms. Motluk this is her third National Magazine Award. The Montreal quarterly’s other Gold award came in the category Best Short Feature, for “Notes from the End of the War” by Jonathan Montpetit.
In Fiction the Gold went to Alberta novelist Caroline Adderson for her short story “Ellen-Celine, Celine-Ellen” published in Canadian Notes & Queries. Former Governor General Literary Award winner Patrick deWitt won the Silver for “The Looking-Ahead Artist” in Brick.
In Poetry the Gold winner was former Governor General Literary Award winner Karen Connelly for her poem “The Speed of Rust, or, He Marries” in Geist. Sue Goyette won the Silver for her series of “Fashion” poems in Prairie Fire.
The story “Whale Rising” by Jeff Warren in Reader’s Digest was a double winner, taking Gold in Science, Technology & Environment and Silver in Essays.
Emma Teitel of Maclean’s won the Gold award in Columns. Ms. Teitel won Honourable Mention last year in the category Best New Magazine Writer.
Six of the ten finalists in the new category Blogs were from Maclean’s, with the blog “Science-ish” by Julia Belluz—a former winner of the National Magazine Award for Best Student Writer—winning Gold. Paul Wells won the Silver for “Inkless Wells.”
In Portrait Photography the Gold went to “Never Left Art School,” a series of portraits of artist Douglas Coupland by Mark Peckmezian for Montecristo.
The new French-language literary magazine Nouveau Projet won its first National Magazine Award for “Faux self mon amour” by Fanny Britt in the category Personal Journalism.
Eighteen Bridges gained ten nominations and won Gold in Humour for “The Hairs about our Secrets” by Jessica Johnson.
Toronto Life led all publications with 29 nominations, winning a Gold in Arts & Entertainment for “Something Borrowed” by Leah McLaren.
The new Globe & Mail magazine Globe Style Advisor won its first National Magazine Award, a Gold in the category Beauty for “Lady Obscura.”
Also winning Gold Awards:
- In Essays: “Precious Cargo” by Craig Davidson, Avenue.
- In Homes & Gardens: “The Healthy House” by Shai Gil and Karen Simpson, Azure.
- In Service: Lifestyle: “La mâle bouffe” by Sophie Marcotte, ELLE Québec.”
- In Sports & Recreation: “Into the Light” by Conor Mihell, Explore.
- In Still-Life Photography: “Of Steel, Flesh and Bone” by Adrian Armstrong and Adam Taylor, Sharp.
Visit magazine-awards.com for the complete list of winners and to download the commemorative 36th National Magazine Awards Gold Book.
The National Magazine Awards Foundation acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage, as well as financial support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario, and the Ontario Media Development Corporation. The National Magazine Awards Foundation gratefully acknowledges its suppliers and its contributors who donated gifts in kind to support the awards program. We thank them for their generosity, interest and expertise.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL MAGAZINE AWARDS FOUNDATION
The National Magazine Awards Foundation is a bilingual, not-for-profit institution whose mission is to recognize and promote excellence in the content and creation of Canadian print and digital publications through an annual program of awards and national publicity efforts. magazine-awards.com
La série Off the Page est une exclusivité produite par la Fondation nationale du prix du magazine canadien (FNPMC) et qui offre aux anciens lauréats de Prix du magazine canadien une tribune où ils sont invités à exprimer ce que leur prix a signifié pour eux et à nous dire où ils en sont aujourd’hui dans leur carrière. La série Off the Page paraîtra périodiquement dans notre blogue. Cette semaine, nous découvrons quoi de neuf avec Catherine Dubé, rédactrice du magazine L’actualité.
[The English version of this interview will be published tomorrow.]
FNPMC : L’année dernière, vous avez remporté le Prix d’or dans la catégorie Service : Santé et famille, pour votre article « Demain, des centres à 7 $ par jour pour les vieux? », votre septième Prix du magazine canadien au cours des cinq dernières années! Qu’est-ce qui vous a incité à rédiger cet article?
Catherine Dubé : Cette idée est issue d’une réunion de rédaction de L’actualité. Nous nous sommes demandé ce qui nous attend d’ici 10 à 20 ans : nous sommes tous des aidants naturels en sursis ! Le système de santé n’est pas préparé à prendre soin de la cohorte vieillissante des baby-boomers.
Le principal défi de ce reportage consistait à intéresser les lecteurs à ce sujet a priori pas très sexy…
J’ai fait ce que je fais toujours : illustrer l’information par de nombreux exemples concrets. Je me suis efforcée de trouver des solutions novatrices, comme les haltes répit qui ont inspiré le titre du reportage.
FNPMC : Lorsque vous écrivez pour L’actualité, quel processus suivez-vous pour puiser les idées de votre nouvel article? Trouvez-vous votre inspiration en consultant des professionnels de la santé, des études, d’autres médias, ou d’autres sources?
Catherine Dubé : J’explore les petits et grands sujets de société qui sont dans l’air du temps, à la recherche d’un angle neuf. Toutes les sources sont bonnes, qu’ils s’agissent de médias d’ici ou de l’étranger, d’événements publics comme des conférences, ou encore de publications spécialisées. Les personnes que j’interviewe me mettent souvent sur des pistes inédites.
Je trouve ainsi des informations très intéressantes qui ont échappé au regard des journalistes de quotidiens, submergés par le flot continu des nouvelles.
L’an dernier, alors que je devais faire le portrait de l’hypnotiseur Messmer, un artiste populaire au Québec, j’ai découvert que son approche faisait l’objet d’une controverse; cet article est en quelque sorte devenu une enquête sur l’hypnose, faisant la part des choses entre le vrai et le faux, et mettant en lumière les dangers de la technique lorsqu’elle est mal utilisée.
Le processus de recherche et de rédaction que j’utilise pour mes articles publiés dans L’actualité, où j’ai été embauchée il y a deux ans, est assez semblable à celui que j’utilisais à Québec Science, où j’ai travaillé les dix années précédentes. C’est l’angle d’attaque qui est différent : plus scientifique pour Québec Science, plus social et grand public pour L’actualité.
FNPMC : Quelle importance attribuez-vous au fait de remporter un Prix du magazine canadien? Et que pouvons-nous entrevoir pour l’avenir : quels sujets et enjeux suscitent actuellement votre intérêt?
Catherine Dubé : Un prix est le couronnement de nos efforts, la reconnaissance qu’on a atteint notre objectif.
Personne ne se sent obligé de lire un magazine pour être au courant de l’actualité. Les journaux, la télévision et les nouvelles en continu sur le Web nous livrent une rude compétition. C’est à nous, artisans des magazines, de proposer des histoires inédites, des angles nouveaux et surprenants pour nous rendre indispensables aux yeux du grand public.
L’écriture est aussi une clé : elle doit être soignée et fluide. Si le lecteur a autant de plaisir à me lire que s’il lisait un roman, le pari est gagné. C’est toujours un défi, car mon but ultime est d’expliquer des enjeux complexes et souvent abstraits. Je dois trouver les histoires humaines à travers lesquels ces enjeux s’incarnent et les raconter habilement. Même après toutes ces années, ce n’est pas plus facile qu’avant… La différence, c’est que je le fais mieux !
Je publierai dans quelques semaines un très long reportage sur le monde de la justice. Le résultat sera publié sous forme de mini-livre, encarté dans le magazine, un nouveau format que nous proposons aux lecteurs depuis l’an dernier et qui connaît un beau succès.
Catherine Dubé est journaliste au magazine L’actualité. Elle est nominée pour 3 Prix du magazine canadien cette année. Un merci tout spécial à Avary Lovell pour l’interview avec Catherine.
[The English version of this interview will be published tomorrow on the Magazine Awards blog.]
De nos archives, par Catherine Dubé :
Demain, des centres à 7$ par jour pour les vieux? (Prix d’or, Santé et famille, 2011)
Marmot 2.0 (Prix d’or, Société, 2010)
1,2,3…bébés? (Prix d’argent, 2010, Santé et médécine)
Vive le mangeur libre (Prix d’or, Mode de vie, 2009)
Grippe A(H1N1) – Tout savoir (Prix d’argent, 2009, Santé et famille)
Des synapses et des lettres (Prix d’argent, Société, 2008)
Péril à la ferme (Prix d’argent, Article hors categorie, 2007)
Off the Page is an exclusive series produced by the NMAF that reaches out to former National Magazine Award winners to find out what their awards have meant to them and what they’re up to now. As we prepare for this year’s NMA bash, we catch up with National Magazine Award-winning photographer Ian Willms.
NMAF: Last year you won the Gold National Magazine Award for Photojournalism & Photo Essay for “In the Shadow of the Oilsands” published in This Magazine. How has winning this award helped you expand your career?
Ian Willms: 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.
NMAF: What advice, either professional or artistic, would you give to current and future Photojournalism & Photo Essay NMA candidates?
Ian Willms: Stay true to the vision that you have for your work. It’s so easy to lose that in the editorial realm. Take the time necessary to do the work that matters to you, in the way that you believe it needs to be done; even if it’s not profitable.
NMAF: Since winning the NMAF Gold award, what photography projects have you completed?
Ian Willms: I’ve been working on a photo essay that explores the religious oppression of Mennonites in Europe and Russia during the 16th-20th centuries. The work is called “Why We Walk” and can be seen at www.ianwillms.com/whywewalk.
Ian Willms is a freelance photographer based in Toronto. You can view his work at ianwillms.com. His work has been exhibited extensively in Canada and around the world, and he’s currently a member of the Boreal Collective and Reportage by Getty Images Emerging Talent.
Special thanks to Jordanna Tennebaum for the interview with Ian. Tomorrow on the Magazine Awards blog we’ll throw the spotlight on this year’s finalists for Photojournalism & Photo Essay.
The Writers Guild of Alberta (WGA) has announced the finalists in 9 categories for the 2012 Alberta Literary Awards. The winners will be announced on May 25 at the Alberta Book Awards gala in Edmonton.
In the categories for magazine writing, the finalists are:
James H. Gray Award for Short Nonfiction
• Marcello di Cintio – “A Hymn in Aramaic,” Alberta Views Magazine
• Shaun Hunter – “Skin Deep,” FreeFall Magazine
• Omar Mouallem – “The Lives of Others,” Alberta Venture
Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Story
• Kathleen Brown – “Marhawks in Winter,” Filling Station Magazine
• Lynn Coady – “Dogs in Clothes,” Canadian Notes & Queries
• Lee Kvern – “In Search of Lucinda,” Be a Better Writer
In the categories for book publishing, the nominees include former National Magazine Award winners and nominees Naomi K. Lewis, Will Ferguson, Marcello di Cintio and Andrew Nikiforuk.
In the two categories for unpublished writing, the finalists are:
Amber Bowerman Memorial Travel Writing Award
• Sydney Budgeon – “The Unfinished”
• Selestia Herrera – “Greek Gambles”
• Julia Seymour – “Professions of Love Across the Seine”
Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Award
• Nora Abercrombie – “Becoming Canadian”
• Myrl Coulter – “Current Crossings”
• Elizabeth Haynes – “Memoria, Justicia, Sin Olvido”
Check out all the nominees (pdf). Congrats to all the finalists and good luck!