Tag Archive | NMA Winners

Off the Page, with Canada’s History editor Mark Reid

Off the Page appears regularly on the Magazine Awards blog. Today we catch up with Mark Reid, editor of Canada’s History, winner of the 2012 National Magazine Award for Words & Pictures.

NMAF: Canada’s History (formerly known as The Beaver) is one of this country’s oldest publications, six years away from its centennial. What do you consider the mandate of the magazine to be, and has this changed much in the past 94 years?

Mark Reid (Photo: Marianne Helm)

Mark Reid (Photo: Marianne Helm)

Mark: The mandate is to turn as many Canadians as possible on to their history, and to convince them that our stories are as interesting, entertaining and engaging as any other nation’s. This mandate has changed immensely over the years. In 1920, the magazine began as an in-house newsletter for the Hudson’s Bay Company. As years passed and the fur trade died, the magazine became more of a nostalgia magazine for the “days of yore” on the trap lines, telling stories of the Far North. By the in the 1980s, it had changed focus again, becoming increasingly a “history magazine.” And in 2010, we changed the name to reflect our current focus, going from “The Beaver” to “Canada’s History.”

NMAF: At last year’s National Magazine Awards Canada’s History won Gold in the category Words & Pictures, for “On Thin Ice,” an illustrated memoir of the 1972 Summit Series by Terry Mosher (a.k.a. Aislin), who covered the iconic event as a young political cartoonist. As an editor, what attracted you to this story? And what was the significance for you to have it win a National Magazine Award?

Mark: The ’72 Summit Series is a touchstone moment in our collective cultural history. This Cold War moment is one of a handful of “where were you when” turning points for a generation of Canadians. When I learned that Terry Mosher had travelled to Russia to cover the event as a cartoonist, I knew that we needed to share his story with our wider audience of history lovers.

I asked Terry to colourize the original cartoons he produced in 1972, and share the behind the scenes tales that inspired them. After viewing them, I realized that one cartoon was missing from the story – an image of Paul Henderson scoring the winning goal. Terry’s final cartoon, with Paul Henderson memorialized on a Canadian version of Mount Rushmore, was perfect.

On_Thin_Ice_39

The Canada’s History team was collectively thrilled to work with Terry’s fantastic art, and to share his story with Canadians. For the package to win a National Magazine Award was just icing on the cake — an exciting endorsement from our peers that we received with gratitude, and that we dedicate to everyone with a passion for the past.

NMAF: You recently launched a micro-site called Destinations. How did this project come about, and what do you hope to achieve? 

Mark: While Canada’s History is our flagship magazine, our History Society is engaged in myriad programs. Canada’s History Society is a small Winnipeg-based non-profit that also produces a kid’s history magazine, and runs a host of awards and educational programs for students, teachers and community groups.

Our Destinations site is the latest attempt to reach a new audience of history lovers, in this case, history lovers who combine this passion with travel. Our hope is to work with museums, archives, and tourist sites to help them share their stories with a wider audience. It’s all part of our multipronged approach to encouraging and strengthening interest in our collective past.

NMAF: 2014 figures to be a big year for Canada’s History, with the hundredth anniversary of the start of World War I on the minds of many Canadians. What do you think is the significance of this milestone for Canada, and can you tell us a bit about how the magazine will be covering the anniversary?

Mark: The start of WWI is certainly a huge part of our publishing plans. Our key publication will be a coffee-table book on the subject, titled Canada’s Great War Album. It will be published by HarperCollins Canada, and features essays on all aspects of the war by the country’s top historians and writers, along with photos and artifacts relating to the war that have been sent to us by our readers.

Our goal is to commemorate the courageous men, women and children who lived, loved, fought, served and sacrificed during that difficult time. It will be available for sale in the fall of 2014. On the magazine side, we are also working on a special package of articles that will examine not only WWI, but also WWII, which will mark the 75th anniversary of its start in September 2014. It’s an exciting time to be publishing history, and we look forward to bringing Canadians many more great articles and publications in the months and years to come.

Mark Reid is the editor-in-chief of Canada’s History magazine, published by the History Society in Winnipeg, which also publishes Kayak: Canada’s History Magazine for Kids. Follow them on Twitter @CanadasHistory and @MarkReidEditor.

More Off the Page interviews with NMA winners
Canada’s History in the National Magazine Awards archive
Submissions for the 37th National Magazine Awards

Images courtesy CanadasHistory.ca and National Magazine Awards Foundation.

Off the Page, avec Isabelle Arsenault

La série Off the Page paraîtra périodiquement dans notre blogue. Cette semaine, nous découvrons quoi de neuf avec l’illustratrice Isabelle Arsenault, lauréate de 2 Prix du magazine canadien et de 2 Prix littéraires du Gouverneur général.

FNPMC: Nous vous félicitons de gagner récemment votre deuxième Prix littéraire du Gouverneur général (illustrations, jeunesse, français). Votre livre, Jane, le renard et moi, écrit par Fanny Britt, raconte l’histoire d’Hélène, une jeune fille qui fait l’objet d’intimidation par ses condisciples, se sent inférieure et dont le seul plaisir est de lire Jane Eyre. En quoi cette histoire a-t-elle une résonance chez vous, et comment avez-vous créé l’image d’Hélène?

Isabelle : Le personnage d’Hélène est une jeune fille discrète qui se retrouve sans amies à un âge où l’appartenance à un groupe prend de l’importance.  Sans avoir été moi-même victime d’intimidation, je me suis inspirée de souvenirs de ma propre jeunesse, de scènes dont j’ai été témoin et d’impressions que ces souvenirs m’ont laissé.

J’ai décidé de représenter Hélène comme étant une fille sans style particulier, plutôt neutre et effacée à laquelle le lecteur puisse facilement s’identifier.

FNPMC : Plus tôt l’année 2013, vous avez remporté un Prix du magazine canadien, votre deuxième, pour une série d’illustrations dans Québec Science, dans le cadre d’un article intitulé « Organes recherchés ». Quel processus créatif utilisez-vous lorsque vous illustrez un article de magazine? Puisez-vous votre inspiration exclusivement du texte, ou d’autres sources?

"Organes recherchés," illustration par Isabelle Arsenault, Québec Science

“Organes recherchés,” illustration par Isabelle Arsenault, Québec Science

Isabelle Arsenault (photo: Martine Boisvert)

Isabelle Arsenault (photo: Martine Boisvert)

Isabelle : Je puise mon inspiration dans une variété de sources; livres, magazines, internet, nature, etc.  J’aime bien lire le texte à illustrer plusieurs fois afin de bien m’en imprégner, pour ensuite faire quelque chose de complètement différent comme prendre une marche, faire du ménage, une sieste, du yoga.

Ça m’aide à m’aérer l’esprit et à laisser entrer les idées.

FNPMC : De quelle façon le fait de remporter un Prix du magazine canadien, ou un Prix du Gouverneur général, comme vous l’avez fait l’année dernière pour Virginia Wolf, a-t-il contribué à l’avancement de votre carrière en illustration, ou a-t-il été une source d’inspiration pour cette carrière?

Isabelle : Les prix sont une forme de reconnaissance qu’il est toujours apprécié de recevoir.  Pour ma part, je travaille de façon plutôt solitaire et ce, particulièrement lorsque je planche sur un projet de livre.  Recevoir ce genre d’honneurs me donne l’impression d’aller dans la bonne direction et m’encourage à continuer, à me dépasser, en plus d’être une belle carte de visite.

"Une brebis egaree moi?" Finaliste pour un Prix du magazine canadien, 2009

“Une brebis égarée moi?” (L’actualité) Illustration par Isabelle Arsenault – finaliste pour un Prix du magazine canadien, 2009

Isabelle Arsenault est une illustratrice canadienne lauréate dont le travail a été publié dans Québec Science, L’actualité, Explore et d’autres magazines, ainsi que dans 10 livres. Son livre le plus récent est Once Upon a Northern Night, une méditation poétique sur l’hiver. Découvrir plus au isabellearsenault.com.

Plus Off the Page
Inscriptions pour les 2013 Prix du magazine canadien (date limite 15 janvier)

Off the Page, with The Feathertale Review editor Brett Popplewell

Off the Page is an interview series that appears regularly on the Magazine Awards blog. Today we catch up with Brett Popplewell, editor of The Feathertale Review, winner of the 2012 National Magazine Award for Best Single Issue.

NMAF: The Feathertale Review has been dubbed the “illegitimate love child of Mad Magazine and The New Yorker.” We just saw your latest issue, no. 11, double in size to 128 pages. Is this a signal to readers that the child is growing up? And if so, where is it headed?

Brett Popplewell: It’s definitely a sign that the child is growing up. Where it’s heading, I have no idea.

Truth is our entire team has grown up since our launch in 2006. We were just kids back then who felt there was an absence of high- and low-brow humour magazines in the Canadian market and thought we could be the cork to plug that hole. Lee Wilson, Feathertale’s co-founder and art director, and I wanted to create something that would feel fresh and cutting edge but that would hark back to an age when magazines leaned entirely on illustration to bring their words to life. We’re the ones who started calling our creation the “illegitimate love child of Mad Magazine and The New Yorker” because it felt like the best way to describe it.

The Feathertale Review, Issue no. 1

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 1

We really started to grow up with our fourth issue (summer 2009). I finally started writing editorials to help nail a raison-d’etre for each issue and we began interviewing interesting people (David Rakoff, Stuart McLean, Patrick deWitt, Lynn Coady, etc.) in the magazine, using those interviews to try to answer some of life’s greatest questions, like: “What does it actually mean to be funny?” All of this added a creative depth to what we were doing.

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 4

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 4

That adolescent stage carried on until our ninth issue (Spring of 2012), which was later named Best Single Issue by the National Magazine Awards Foundation.

By that point Lee and I were both working fulltime with mass-market magazines and had a much better understanding of our industry and Feathertale’s place within it. We began wanting to use Feathertale to challenge what we and others thought a magazine actually was. That’s how we came up with the idea for Feathertale 9. That issue, which looked, read and felt like it was lost in time, was modeled after 250-year-old magazines in order to show readers how far magazines had evolved and changed since their initial creation back in 1731. I think the moment we started thinking about Feathertale on such a bold scale was when it grew up and became more than just the bastard love child of Mad Magazine and The New Yorker.

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 9

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 9, winner of Best Single Issue at the 2012 National Magazine Awards

We didn’t have it in us to make Feathertale 10 as crazy an innovation as its predecessor. So we sought instead to create a “swan song” issue that resembled some of our earlier issues and served to book-end a chapter of our lives.

After Feathertale 10 we had time to reflect on what we’d accomplished and assess what we thought was working and what wasn’t. We had contemplated ending the print product and concentrating on Feathertale.com, the online companion to the Review. Our $10 cover price hadn’t been doing us any favours on newsstands and our online readership had always outstripped our printed circulation. But we still believed in producing beautiful printed products and decided to double down on that belief. That’s when we started thinking about making the Review look less like a magazine and more like a book.

From a design standpoint, this made sense. We were starting to publish some much longer stories and Lee felt the long features would read better if we changed the design. So we shrunk the page size from the 8”x10” we’d been using for the first 10 issues to 5”x8”. We then doubled the length of the book to make sure it would still pack the roughly 35,000 words we’d been publishing in our previous issues. In the end, the adjustment made good business sense as well.

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 11

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 11

Feathertale is still a magazine of course, but our current issue (and our next one for that matter) does look a lot more like a book than a mag. I don’t know how that format will serve us on newsstands. We have one of the thicker spines out there right now, and I think we’ve got some pretty appealing covers but we don’t take up nearly as much space on the magazine rack. That said, our subscribers seem to be enjoying the new forma, which is encouraging. It’s also substantially cheaper for us to print the smaller layout and from what we’ve seen at festivals, people are more inclined to pay $10 (or even $15) for the new format. We’re under no pretense of being the first to come out at this size, but so far it makes sense for us.

NMAF: In addition to winning the National Magazine Award for Best Single Issue (for issue no. 9), Feathertale has also won NMAs for Humour and for Best Magazine Cover; remarkable achievements for any magazine, no less a young literary one. What impact have achievements like these made on Feathertale and its writers and artists?

Brett: The accolades have certainly helped us stay motivated, but this has never been a vanity project. Our first win for Best Magazine Cover of 2010 came as a shock, both to us and I think to others in our industry. That cover was really special to us. It was illustrated by a young artist in Oshawa named Dani Crosby. She had just graduated from Sheridan and didn’t have a huge portfolio when we handed her our magazine and told her to do as she pleased with it. There aren’t many magazines that will hand over that kind of opportunity to such a young and relatively inexperienced artist. When we won best cover, we were really just humbled and honoured to be recognized by our peers.

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 6, winner of Best Magazine Cover, 2010 National Magazine Awards

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 6, winner of Best Magazine Cover, 2010 National Magazine Awards

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. I was surprised when we were nominated for that award as well and I was ecstatic when we won. I think what I’m most proud of about that issue is that we pulled it all together on a $7,000 budget. I can’t really explain how it feels to have published and edited a magazine on that kind of budget and then see it nominated alongside magazines that are easily 100 times our size.

Feathertale was probably the smallest magazine nominated for any awards last year, so to win one of the evening’s most prestigious was an unexpected honour, something Cathal Kelly (one of our frequent contributors) touched on when he tweeted that watching Feathertale win that NMA was, financially speaking, “like your home movies winning an Oscar.”

There were 37 contributors in that issue and each of them was integral to its success. I can’t speak for any of them, but I can say that I am extremely proud to have worked with each of them on that issue. I’m equally as proud of Cathal for picking up silver in the Humour category last year. We’ve always said we’re a humour magazine, and Cathal’s award and work helped validate that claim. He’s probably the most naturally gifted writer I’ve had the privilege to work with.

"Feathertale Man rewrites history..." Silver, Humour, 2012 National Magazine Awards

“Feathertale Man rewrites history…” Silver, Humour, 2012 National Magazine Awards

NMAF: You’ve spoken elsewhere about the early success story of Feathertale, where start-up funds from a successful anti-bullying comic-book venture seeded the start of the magazine, and support from Canadian arts funding has helped you grow. What lessons have you learned about publishing a literary magazine in Canada that might benefit other publishers, writers and artists out there?

Brett: The biggest lesson I’ve learned is you have to believe in the value of what you’re doing because you won’t necessarily see any benefit from your labours in your bank account. Canada is such a small market that it’s very hard to make a profit with this type of venture. Financially, Feathertale is subsidized by grant money and sales of Lee’s and my anti-bullying comic books. But aside from that, this whole thing survives on the passion of its creators. That passion comes and goes. There are times when each of us have wanted to run away from Feathertale but the longer we spend working on the project the more we realize that it’s like a child that deserves a shot at growing up and becoming a fully functioning adult. It has definitely grown up and matured, but it’s still not ready to feed itself or change its own diapers.

Publishing, especially in the 21st century, is a very fickle industry. Lee and I wandered into it without any real experience. We had some spectacular success early on with our anti-bullying comic books and have no regrets at having used that success to launch The Feathertale Review. We are fortunate to now have support from both the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. I think it’s important for every Canadian to understand that if the Arts councils ever pulled out of funding literary journals in this country the entire industry would likely die, or at least cease to print.

NMAF: Who is D’Artagnan, really?

Brett: He’s the real brains behind this operation. The one who makes all this possible.

Seriously though, he’s the blue monkey who appears on all things Feathertale. We used to think of him as our Alfred E. Newman or Eustace Tilley, but he’s become more than that. He’s our face in this world. What’s his story? Why is he blue? We’ve been asking ourselves those questions for a long time now but still haven’t figured it out.

Brett Popplewell is the editor of The Feathertale Review, as well as a National Magazine Award-winning writer — he won Gold in the category Sports & Recreation at the 2011 National Magazine Awards for “The Team that Disappeared” (Sportsnet). Follow him on Twitter @b_popps.

Images courtesy Feathertale.com and National Magazine Awards Foundation.

Submissions are now being accepted for the 2013 National Magazine Awards. Deadline for entries: January 15.

National Magazine Awards Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for last-minute stocking stuffers and holiday gifts? A subscription to an award-winning Canadian magazine is a great place to start. Magazines Canada’s digital newsstand offers subscription deals on dozens of great magazines. A literary magazine would make any lover of fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction squeal with delight.

Perhaps someone on your gift list would love a subscription to Corporate Knights, the magazine of clean capitalism and the winner of this year’s prestigious Magazine of the Year award.

After magazines, books are every reader’s favourite gift, so here at the National Magazine Awards Foundation we’ve compiled a short list of great new books, all by National Magazine Award-winning writers.

Non-fiction

The Dogs Are Eating Them Now, by Graeme Smith
The winner of this year’s Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust prize for non-fiction, The Dogs are Eating Them Now is a comprehensive reportage of Canada’s role in the Afghanistan War, by 3-time National Magazine Award winner Graeme Smith.

The Once and Future World, by J.B. MacKinnon
Longlisted for the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize for Non-fiction, this powerful meditation on how we can re-imagine and restore the wilderness around us, by 11-time National Magazine Award winner J.B. MacKinnon, is a must-read for anyone who lives, works or plays in Canada’s great outdoors. (Read our interview with J.B. MacKinnon.)

Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter, by Alison Wearing
In a compelling memoir about growing up with a gay father in 1980s rural Ontario, National Magazine Award-winning travel writer Alison Wearing weaves a moving coming-of-age story with the challenging social and political climate of the struggle for gay rights in Canada.

Walls: Travels Along the Barricades, by Marcello Di Cintio
Winner of the 2013 Writers’ Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, this gripping collection of travel narratives and reportage from divided lands–Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, the U.S.-Mexico border, and more–is truly inspiring.

An Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King
Once a National Magazine Award winner for Fiction in Saturday Night (1991), aboriginal writer Thomas King (Cherokee nation) tells a comprehensive and witty history of North America’s indigenous people’s encounters with Europeans.

Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark, by Mary Janigan
Also on the long list for the RBC Taylor Prize, this investigation into the regional rivalry between Western and Eastern Canada over issues of energy strategy and economic policy is scintillating. Mary Janigan is a former journalist with Maclean’s and a winner of a National Magazine Award in 1992.

Little Ship of Fools, by Charles Wilkins
A story that began on an innovative rowboat attempting a first-of-its-kind crossing of the Atlantic Ocean and continued in the pages of Explore magazine, where it won a 2011 National Magazine Award, Little Ship of Fools, by one of Canada’s premier adventure writers, Charles Wilkins, is the complete chronicle of Big Blue, the record-breaking rowboat, and the incredible crew that propelled her across the sea.

Fiction

Hellgoing, by Lynn Coady
The winner of this year’s Giller Prize as Canada’s best work of fiction, Hellgoing by Edmonton’s Lynn Coady needs almost no introduction. Lynn Coady is a 5-time National Magazine Award nominee, including this year for the story “Dogs in Clothes” (Canadian Notes & Queries), which is part of the collection Hellgoing.

The Sky is Falling, by Caroline Adderson
Caroline Adderson won the Gold 2012 National Magazine Award for fiction, for “Ellen-Celine, Celine-Ellen” (Canadian Notes & Queries). She is the author of three novels and several children’s books. Her work has received numerous prize nominations including the the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Rogers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

Ablutions, by Patrick deWitt
Patrick deWitt won the Silver National Magazine Award for fiction in 2012, for “The Looking Ahead Artist” (Brick). Originally from Vancouver, he is the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Sisters Brothers, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

The World, by Bill Gaston
Victoria native Bill Gaston won the 2011 Gold National Magazine Award for fiction, for “Four Corners” (Event). His short-story collection Gargoyles was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and won the ReLit Award and the City of Victoria Butler Prize.

Easy Living Stories, by Jesus Hardwell
Jesus Hardwell won the 2010 Silver National Magazine Award for fiction, for “Sandcastles” (Event). The story was also short-listed for the prestigious Journey Prize and featured in the Journey Prize Anthology. He lives in Guelph, Ontario.

Ballistics, by D.W. Wilson
Born and raised in British Columbia, D.W. Wilson won 2008 Silver National Magazine Award for fiction, for “The Elasticity of Bone” (Malahat Review). He is the author of Once You Break a Knuckle, a collection of short stories. He was shortlisted for the CBC Short Story Prize and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize.

The Hungry Ghosts, by Shyam Selvadurai
Toronto’s Shyam Selvadurai won the 2006 Gold National Magazine Award for fiction, for “The Demoness Kali” (Toronto Life). He is the acclaimed author of the novels Funny Boy, which was shortlisted for the Giller Prize, won the Books in Canada First Novel Award and was a national bestseller, and Cinnamon Gardens, which was shortlisted for the Trillium Award.

Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese
The winner of this year’s First Nations Book Award, Indian Horse, by Ontario Ojibway author Richard Wagamese, tells the story of the journey that Saul Indian Horse, a northern Ontario Ojibway man, takes back through his life, as he is dying.

The O’Briens, by Peter Behrens
Montreal-born Peter Behrens won the 2006 Silver National Magazine Award for fiction, for “The Smell of Smoke” (The Walrus). He is the author of the Governor General’s Literary Award-winning novel, The Law of Dreams, published around the world to wide acclaim, and a collection of short stories, Night Driving.

Submissions are now being accepted for the 2013 National Magazine Awards. Deadline for entries: January 15.

A Celebration of Covers: Spacing’s 10th anniversary

Marking the tenth anniversary of the popular and award-winning Spacing–the magazine devoted to Canadian urban issues–founder and art director Matthew Blackett tells the story behind ten of the most popular covers in Spacing‘s history. Among the group is the above issue, with cover photography by Stephen Rothlisberger, which won the 2005 Gold National Magazine Award for Editorial Package.

Canada’s 2013 National Magazine Awards are open for submissions, and among 48 categories for achievement in magazine writing, photography, illustration, packaging and digital content creation is the celebrated category for best Magazine Cover. Check out the NMA archives for past winners. The deadline for entries is January 15.

Off the Page, with J.B. MacKinnon

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. MacKinnon (photo by A. Smith)

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

J.B.: In this case, a book idea became a magazine story. In 2011, I was already thinking about The Once and Future World, but I needed to explore whether it had the potential I thought it did.

“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.

Read "A 10 Percent World" (Gold, Essays, 2010)

Read “A 10 Percent World” (The Walrus, Gold, Essays, 2010)

Read "Becoming an Optimist" (Gold, Science, Technology & Environment, 2008)

Read “Becoming an Optimist” (Explore, Gold, Science, Technology & Environment, 2008)

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

More Off the Page
J.B. MacKinnon in the NMA Archive

Off the Page, with journalist and blogger Julia Belluz

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 Belluz (Photo: Jessica Darmanin)

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 honour 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.

More:
Off the Page
National Magazine Awards archive
Read more about the NMA Blogs category

Off the Page, with Sierra Skye Gemma

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 Skye Gemma (Photo: Nadya Kwandibens)

Sierra Skye Gemma (Photo: Nadya Kwandibens)

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.

Click to read "The Wrong Way" by Sierra Skye Gemma

Click to read “The Wrong Way” by Sierra Skye Gemma

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.

More:
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

New exhibit from NMA-winning photographer Mark Peckmezian

A new solo exhibition by National Magazine Award-winning photographer Mark Peckmezian is set to open on Friday, November 22 at the O’Born Contemporary gallery in Toronto.

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.

More: Mark Peckmezian in the NMA Archive

Going for Gold: How to win a National Magazine Award

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.

2008_torontolife2Sarah 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.

Related posts:
Off the Page, with Patrick Walsh
National Magazine Award-winning Covers, 2007-2010
Winners of the 36th National Magazine Awards

More:
Award-winning work in the National Magazine Awards archive
National Magazine Awards digital Gold Book (free)

NMA laureates vie for Governor General’s Awards

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.

NMA winner Richard Wagamese wins First Nations book award

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.

More: Richard Wagamese in the National Magazine Awards archive.

NMA winner Carol Shaben to accept prize at Laurier University

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.

Related posts: 
Off the Page, with Carol Shaben (interview)
New book by NMA winner looks at the safety of our skies

More: Carol Shaben in the National Magazine Awards archive

Frontier College hosts fundraiser with NMA winner JJ Lee

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.

More: JJ Lee in the National Magazine Awards archive

ScotiaBank Giller Prize features former NMA winners

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.

Paul Webster wins Dave Greber Freelance Award

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.

New Charles Wilkins book arose from NMA-winning story

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.

On balancing freelance writing and the “labour of love”

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.

img_0064Moira 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).

National Magazine Award winner Alice Munro finally a Nobel laureate

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.”

More:
Alice Munro in the National Magazine Awards archive
Margaret Atwood on the life and works of Alice Munro (The Guardian)

Ryerson Journalism School marks 60th anniversary

rrj-3Ryerson University’s venerable School of Journalism will celebrate its 60th anniversary this weekend in Toronto, with a reception Friday evening and a conference of panel sessions on Saturday.

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.

New book from NMA Winner Ann Dowsett Johnston on Women & Alcohol

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.

Get up to 50% off subscriptions to National Magazine Award-winning magazines

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NMA Winners headline Saskatchewan Festival of Words

SFWThe 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.

Check out the full line-up and ticket info and the schedule (pdf).

The 36th National Magazine Awards Gold Book

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!

Canada’s Best Magazine Covers of 2012

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?”

"Are We Happy Yet?" - Adbusters, Art Direction by Will Brown and Pedro Inoue

“Are We Happy Yet?” – Adbusters, Art Direction by Will Brown and Pedro Inoue

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.

"Issue 45" - Maisonneuve, Art Direction by Anna Minzhulina

“Issue 45″ – Maisonneuve, Art Direction by Anna Minzhulina

Congratulations to all the winners of the 36th National Magazine Awards.

Related post:
Meet the NMA Finalists for Magazine Covers

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