NMA laureates Robyn Sarah, Guy Vanderhaeghe win Governor General’s Literary Awards

Robyn Sarah. Photo by Allen McEachern (via Canada Council for the Arts)
Robyn Sarah. Photo by Allen McEachern (via Canada Council for the Arts)

Montreal poet Robyn Sarah and Saskatchewan author Guy Vanderhaeghe, both previously National Magazine Award winners, have been named the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award winners for poetry and fiction, as announced by Canada Council for the Arts this morning.

The work of both writers and all the other finalists for the #GGBooks fiction and poetry prizes first appeared in one or more of Canada’s literary magazines, demonstrating yet again how important our cultural magazines are to fostering a strong and vibrant Canadian literary community.

In the spring of 2012 Robyn Sarah published a poem in The New Quarterly issue #122 called “My Shoes Are Killing Me (a poem in nine movements),” which went on to be nominated for a National Magazine Award. Three years later, now expanded into a collection of poetry under the same title, Robyn Sarah’s work has won one of Canadian poetry’s highest honours.


Robyn Sarah won the National Magazine Award for fiction in 1993 (for “Accept my Story” in the Malahat Review), and she has also twice been nominated for her critical essays in TNQ.

Two other #GGBooks poetry finalists are NMA laureates. Patrick Lane has won 3 National Magazine Awards for his poetry, most recently for “Arroyo” published in VallumKayla Czaga was a National Magazine Award poetry finalist in 2014, for “Song” and other poems in Arc Poetry Magazine.

Guy Vanderhaeghe was a finalist for the National Magazine Award in fiction this year for his story “Tick Tock” in Prairie Fire. His latest book of short fiction, Daddy Lenin and Other Stories, was named the #GGBooks winner this year, the third time he’s won the Governor General’s Literary Award.

Fellow #GGBooks fiction nominee Helen Humphreys was a National Magazine Award finalist in 2012 for her essay “Natural History” in Queen’s Quarterly.

Read more about this year’s Governor General’s Literary Award winners at ggbooks.ca.

And check out some of this fall’s great writing contests from Canadian literary magazines.

Your Guide to Fall 2015 Magazine Writing Contests

Welcome to autumn, at least in the celestial sense, for tonight in the northern hemisphere is the autumnal equinox and whether or not the leaves are changing colour yet in your neighbourhood, there’s no denying that the anticipation of a new season is an inspirational moment.

We asked our Twitter followers how the changing seasons inspired them to get in a writing mood.

Our thrice-annual magazine contest guide is back with the Fall 2015 edition (see Winter/Spring and Summer, too). These contests are presented by Canadian magazines or magazine-related associations, and open to Canadian writers and photographers. Unless otherwise indicated, these contests are open to unpublished works only.

As always, the list below may be incomplete. Leave a comment here or hail us on Twitter @MagAwards #WritingContest if you know of any we missed. The contests in our Fall 2015 edition are organized by deadline date, from September 22 to December 31.

The Puritan Thomas Morton Memorial Prize
Genres: Poetry; Fiction (max 7500 words)
Deadline: September 30, 2015 October 10,2015
Prizes: $1000 + publication + $900 book prize pack
Entry Fee: $15

Up Here Photo Contest
Categories: Grand Prize; Science & Nature; Travel & Adventure; Arts & Culture; People & History
Deadline: October 16, 2015
Prizes: Nikon 7200 HD-SLR + lens (Grand Prize winner); subscriptions for winners in each of 4 categories; publication
Entry Fee: None
Note: Contest open to all Canadians; photographs must be of Canada’s North

Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR) Phoenix Short Story Contest
Genre: Short Fiction (max 2500 words)
Deadline: October 25, 2015
Prizes: $750 (1st); $500 (2nd); $250 (3rd); publication
Entry Fee: $20

The Malahat Review Open Season Awards
Genres: Poetry; Fiction; Creative Non-fiction (max 2500 words)
Deadline: November 1, 2015
Prizes: $1500 to the winner in each section + publication
Entry Fee: $35 (includes subscription); $15 each for additional entries

CBC Canada Writes Short Story Contest
Genre: Fiction (1200-1500 words)
Deadline: November 1, 2015
Prizes: $6000 + Banff Centre Residency + Publication in enRoute & CBCBooks.ca (1st prize); $1000 for each of 4 runners up
Entry Fee: $25

Humber Literary Review Fiction Contest
Genre: Fiction (max 3000 words)
Deadline: November 15, 2015
Prizes: $250 + Workshop Placement (1st); $250 (2nd); $100 (3rd); publication
Entry Fee: $25 (includes subscription)
Details: http://humberliteraryreview.com/submissions

PRISM International Creative Non-fiction Contest
Genre: Creative Non-fiction (max 6000 words)
Deadline: November 20, 2015
Prizes: $1500 (1st); $600 (2nd); $400 (3rd); publication
Entry Fee: $35 (includes subscription); $5 each for additional entries
Note: PRISM’s poetry and short fiction contests will have a deadline of Jan 15, 2016

Plenitude Emerging Writer Mentorship Award
Genre: Creative Non-fiction (max 4000 words)
Deadline: November 27, 2015
Prize: Mentorship + publication
Entry Fee: $20 (includes subscription)

Prairie Fire Creative Writing Contests
Genres: Poetry; Fiction (max 10,000 words); Creative Non-fiction (max 5000 words)
Deadline: November 30, 2015
Prizess: $1250 (1st); $500 (2nd); $250 (3rd); publication
Entry Fee: $32 (includes subscription)

Briarpatch Writing in the Margins Creative Writing Contest
Genres: Poetry; Creative Non-fiction (max 2000 words)
Deadline: December 1, 2015
Prize: $300 + print publication (1st); $75 + online publication (honourable mention)
Entry Fee: $25 (includes subscription)

The Fiddlehead 25th annual Literary Contest
Genres: Poetry (up to 3 poems); Fiction (max 6000 words)
Deadline: December 1, 2015
Prizes: $2000 + publication (1st); $250 each to 2 honourable mention
Entry Fee: $30 (includes subscription)

Rhubarb magazine contests
Genres: Fiction; Poetry; Essays
Deadline: December 15, 2015
Prize: $500 + publication
Entry Fee: $30; includes subscription

Freefall Prose & Poetry Contests
Genres: Poetry (max 5 poems); Fiction (max 3000 words)
Deadline: December 31, 2015
Prizes: $500 (1st); $250 (2nd); $75 (3rd); $25 (HM); publication
Entry Fee: $25 (includes subscription); additional entries $5 each

Echolocation-QWERTY Writing Contest
Genres: TBA
Deadline: December 31, 2015
Prizes: TBA
Entry Fee: TBA

Accenti Annual Writing Contest
Genres: Fiction, Creative Non-fiction (max 2000 words)
Deadline: December 31, 2015
Prizes: TBA
Entry Fee: $20

Musicworks magazine Writing Contest

Did we miss one? Send us a note or hail us on Twitter @MagAwards. We’ll update this post throughout the fall as more contests are announced. Find more awards, prizes and contests for magazine journalism on the Awards and Contests pages of this blog.

To see what’s on the horizon for 2016, check out:
Your Guide to Winter/Spring Magazine Writing Contests
Your Guide to Summer Magazine Writing Contests

For a comprehensive guide to submitting to literary publications in Canada, check out:
A Writer’s Guide to Canadian Literary Magazines

National Magazine Awards Guide to Word on the Street

Canada’s largest magazine & book festival–Word on the Street–is coming to five Canadian cities this month, with opportunities for readers to browse great deals on magazine subscriptions, hear inspiring stories from their favourite writers, and go home with a scintillating stack of new reads.

  • Halifax–Saturday, September 19, Halifax Central Library
  • Saskatoon–Sunday, September 20, Exhibitor Marketplace
  • Lethbridge–Sunday, September 20, Main Library
  • Kitchener–Saturday, September 26, Downtown
  • Toronto–Sunday, September 27, Harbourfront Centre


Here are some of the events and speakers we’re looking forward to, featuring NMA winners:

National Magazine Award winning fiction writer Lynn Crosbie will read from the works of fellow NMA winner Margaret Atwood. 12pm at the Toronto Book Awards tent.

11-time National Magazine Award winner Don Gillmor (The Walrus, Toronto Life, Eighteen Bridges) will talk about writing for magazines at the Wordshop Marquee at 12pm, and at the Great Books Marquee at 4pm, along with Evan Rosser, senior editor at Sportsnet magazine.

Novelist Patrick deWitt, winner of the National Magazine Award for fiction (Brick) as well as the Governor General’s Award and the Writers’ Trust Award, will speak at Sculpting New Reads at 1pm and at the Amazon Best-Seller Stage at 3pm.

John Lorinc, 7-time NMA winner for Spacing, Toronto Life, Report on Business and others, will speak about writing on urban affairs at the Nothing But the Truth tent at 5:15pm.

National Magazine Award-winning science writer Alanna Mitchell (United Church Observer) will speak about her new book, Malignant Metaphor, at the Nothing But the Truth tent at 12:30pm.

Hal Niedzvieki, founder of Broken Pencil magazine, will talk about “Trees on Mars” at the Nothing But the Truth tent, 2:15pm.

Check out these National Magazine Award-winning titles at the Exhibitor Marketplace and the Magazine Mews (MM). Word on the Street always brings out great deals on magazine subscriptions, often with gifts and back issues on sale, too. [Map of WOTS Toronto]

  • Alternatives Journal, Booth #206
  • Brick: A Literary Journal, Booth #133
  • Broken Pencil, Booth #MM6
  • Canada’s History, Booth #113
  • Carousel, Booth #MM1
  • ELQ: Exile Literary Quarterly, Booth 185
  • Feathertale Review, Booth #MM2
  • Legion Magazine, Booth #221
  • Little Brother Magazine, Booth #MM19
  • NOW Magazine, Booth #150
  • Ontario Nature, Booth #MM10
  • Owl Kids, Booth #KS23
  • Quill & Quire
  • Shameless, Booth #MM8
  • SkyNews, Booth #184
  • Visitors usually find all kinds of Toronto swag at the Spacing magazine booth at WOTS.
    Visitors usually find all kinds of Toronto swag at the Spacing magazine booth at WOTS.

    Spacing, Booth #157

  • Taddle Creek, Booth #MM5
  • The New Quarterly, Booth #MM4
  • The Walrus, Booth #218
  • THIS Magazine,  Booth #220
  • Toronto Life, Booth #161
  • Vallum Poetry, Booth #LL12
  • Zoomer, Booth #145


Word on the Street, Toronto, is Sunday, September 27 from 11am-6pm at Harbourfront Centre, free and fun for all!


Check out Alberta Views magazine, winner of the 2008 National Magazine Award for Magazine of the Year, at their display booth at WOTS Lethbridge.


Hear National Magazine Award finalist Guy Vanderhaeghe–novelist and short story writer, winner of two Governor General’s Awards–at the Who Has Seen the Wind Tent at 3:45pm.

Check out all the events and speakers at the WOTS near you.

Summer Magazine Reading Series, No. 2: Alberta Bound, Alberta Bound

It’s good to be / Alberta Bound. Our summer reading series continues this week with a special focus on the Province of Alberta, land of “the strong and the free”; of turquoise mountain lakes, vast fertile prairies, and some of Canada’s finest magazines.

This past spring our friends at the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association (AMPA) presented the 2015 Alberta Magazine Awards, recognizing excellence in the content and design of publications based in the province. Among the winners were Alberta Views, Avenue, Glass Buffalo, New Trail, Swerve, Up! Magazine, and more.

You can read the complete articles of all finalists and winners on the AMPA site. A few suggestions:

Game Changer” by Arno Kopecky (Alberta Views)
Winner of the award for Best Alberta Story, this piece by former National Magazine Award finalist Arno Kopecky examines a legal action by the Beaver Lake Cree Nation against the Province of Alberta and the oil industry, exploring the potential of the lawsuit to challenge existing land-rights issues between First Nations and the energy industry.

Arno Kopecky is an environmental journalist and author based in Vancouver. His first book, The Devil’s Curve, a literary travelogue based on his year-long journey through Peru and Colombia, made Amazon’s top-100 list for 2012. His second book, The Oil Man And The Sea, chronicles Kopecky’s sailing expedition into British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, a legendary wilderness with the knife of Big Oil at its throat.

Bonus read: The silver award in Best Alberta Story went to “The Future and the Hipster” (Swerve) by Jeremy Klaszus, former winner of the National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer (2006).

Children of a Lesser Santa” by Omar Mouallem (Swerve)
Winner of the award for Best Essay, this piece by former NMA winner Omar Mouallem is a witty and endearing chronicle of the first Christmas “celebrated” by a Muslim-Canadian family in northern Alberta.

“While most Canadian children probably encounter Santa Claus within the first year of their lives— at a parade, in a mall or in their living room—I was four. My mom, perhaps noticing my sense of exclusion, or to better integrate into her adopted country, took me to the town library where families lined up to snap a photo of their children in the jolly man’s lap. What could go wrong?”

Bonus read: In the AMA Profiles category, the gold award went Marcello di Cintio for “The Long Journey of Nathan Phelps” (Swerve), which later won the silver National Magazine Award in the same category.

A Tale of Two Forms” by Peter Takach (Glass Buffalo)
Winner of the  award for Emerging Writer, this creative and poignant homage to the Dickensian epic reflects on the transitional and perhaps ephemeral nature of the novel in the digital age. The award jury noted: “As though trapped in a wacky pinball machine, A Tale of Two Forms kept punting and zapping me back and forth with its fresh ideas, literary references, form and imagery. Peter Takach’s work underlines how important it is to sometimes suspend reason and just let the words wash over you.”

Bonus read: In the AMA Poetry category, the silver award went to Erika Luckert for her work “Frog Lake” in Glass Buffalo, which was also nominated for a National Magazine Award.

To read these and all of the finalists and winners from the 2015 Alberta Magazine Awards, visit albertamagazines.com/awards and click on the section for “2015 Showcase Awards Finalists.”

Related posts:
Avenue Edmonton, Swerve, Omar Mouallem among big winners at Alberta Magazine Awards
Off the Page: An interview with Arno Kopecky
Off the Page: An interview with Jeremy Klaszus

Subscribe to our blog to receive our Summer Magazine Reading Series in your inbox each week, and follow us on Twitter (@MagAwards) for updates and magazine news and promotions.

Did you know? You can download and read all of the National Magazine Awards finalists and winners for FREE in our online archive, at magazine-awards.com/archive.

Stay tuned for another Summer Magazine Reading Series edition next Thursday.

Image via WikiCommons.

Your Guide to Summer 2015 Magazine Writing Contests

Reading National Magazine Award-winning literary magazines in the garden; an annual summer pastime.
Reading National Magazine Award-winning literary magazines in the garden; an annual summer pastime.

In his National Magazine Award-winning poem “You Must Remember This” (Hazlitt) Richard Greene composes an elegy to the late Canadian writer Kildare Dobbs that emerges from among the fruit stalls in Toronto’s Chinatown.

I took your word for the durians: so sweet
inside though they stank. I will never eat
one now, I suppose, without you to prod me.

In “Krasnagorsk-2” by Tamas Dobozy, this year’s National Magazine Award winner in fiction (The New Quarterly), three brothers make a startling discovery of the artistic inclinations of their late sibling, unexpectedly opening up their family history to new and disquieting interpretation.

Andrea Bennett, in “Water Upon the Earth” (Maisonneuve), travels to the Big Valley Creation Science Museum, reflecting on the complex dichotomy of reason and faith as revived by the experience of the 2013 Alberta floods; the story won this year’s National Magazine Award for essays.

Perhaps these stories and others from among this year’s National Magazine Award winners will inspire you to create your next work of poetry, fiction or personal essay. As summer ascends to your favourite writing place, take the opportunity to finish your latest literary creation and consider submitting it to a Canadian magazine writing contest.

Our annual Summer Contest Guide provides a list of contests via Canadian magazines (or magazine-related organizations) open to unpublished works of Fiction, Poetry, Creative non-fiction and Photography. And check out our Canadian Literary Magazine Guide for other ideas for where to submit your work.

Please note: This list is organized chronologically by deadline dates from June 15 to September 22. If you know of a contest we missed, please email us or grab us on Twitter @MagAwards and we’ll update our guide.

One Throne Joust 24-Hour Writing Contest
Genre: Short (1000-word) fiction
Deadline: June 26, 2015 (competition is held on June 27)
Prize: $400 + publication
Entry Fee: None

The Walrus Poetry Prize
Genre: Poetry, juried prize and people’s choice prize
Deadline: June 30, 2015
Prize: $4000 and publication (juried winner); $1000 and publication (people’s choice winner)
Entry Fee: $25 (includes subscription)

Musicworks Sonic Geography Writing Contest
Genre: Creative non-fiction (500 words) about how sound shapes experience
Deadline: June 30, 2015
Prize: $500 + print publication (1st); $200 (2nd); $100 (3rd); web publication
Entry Fee: $30 (includes subscription)

Alberta Views Short Story Contest
Genre: Fiction (max 3000 words)
Deadline: June 30, 2015
Prize: $$1000 + publication (winner)
Entry Fee: $30 (includes subscription)
Note: Open to current or former residents of Alberta

Antigonish Review Great Blue Heron Poetry Contest
Genre: Poetry
Deadline: June 30, 2015
Prize: $600 (1st); $400 (2nd); $200 (3rd); publication
Entry Fee: $25 (includes subscription)

Matrix Lit Pop Writing Contest
Genres: Fiction; Poetry
Deadline: July 1, 2015
Prize: Publication + tickets and passes to POP Montreal
Entry Fee: $25

Ricepaper Secret Ingredient Fiction Contest
Genre: Short Fiction (500 words)
Deadline: July 1, 2015
Prize: $250 + publication (1st); prize packs + publication (2nd & 3rd)
Entry Fee: $25; includes subscription

Vallum Award for Poetry 2015
Genre: Poetry
Deadline: July 15, 2015
Prize: $750 (1st); $250 (2nd); publication
Entry Fee: $25; includes subscription

Glass Buffalo Poetry Contest
Genre: Poetry
Deadline: July 31, 2015
Prize: $500 + publication (winner)
Entry Fee: $30 (includes subscription)
Details: http://www.glassbuffalo.com/contest/
Note: Open to current residents of Alberta under 30 years old

Malahat Review Constance Rooke Nonfiction Prize
Genre: Creative non-fiction (max 3000 words)
Deadline: August 1, 2015 August 4, 2015
Prize: $1000; publication in Malahat Review; interview with winning author
Entry Fee: $35 (includes subscription); $15 for additional entries

Geist Short-Long Distance Story Contest
Genre: Short fiction or non-fiction (500 words) that unfolds in two or more time zones
Deadline: August 1, 2015 September 1, 2015
Prize: $500 (1st); $250 (2nd); $150 (3rd); publication
Entry Fee: $20 (includes subscription)

The Impressment Gang Flash Fiction Contest
Genre: Short fiction (1000 words)
Deadline: August 1, 2015
Prize: $100 + publication
Entry Fee: $7.50; other options for subscribers

Shameless Talking Back Youth Writing Contest
: Poetry, Short Fiction, Creative Non-fiction (max 2000 words)
Deadline: September 7, 2015
Prize: $200 (1st); $100 (2nd); publication
Entry Fee: $15 (includes publication)
Note: Open to youth aged 13-19 who identify as girls or trans.

Cottage Life Photo Contest
Categories: Action; Life at the Cottage; Landscapes; Nature; Photos by Kids
Deadline: September 14, 2015
Prizes: Various gift prizes from Coleman outdoor gear
Entry Fee: None

The Capilano Review Robin Blazer Poetry Award
Genre: Poetry
Deadline: September 15, 2015
Prize: $750 + publication (1st); $250 (2nd)
Entry Fee: $35; includes subscription

Did we miss something? Email staff[at]magazine-awards[dot]com or hail us on Twitter @MagAwards.

See also:
Your Guide to Winter/Spring 2015 Magazine Writing Contests
Your Guide to Fall 2014 Magazine Writing Contests
A Writer’s Guide to Canadian Literary Magazines

Check out the Contests section of this blog for frequent updates on opportunities from Canadian magazines.

Avenue Edmonton, Swerve, Omar Mouallem among big winners at the Alberta Magazine Awards

Thursday night in Calgary the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association presented the winners of the 2015 Alberta Magazine Awards, and Avenue magazine of Edmonton took home the biggest prize, Magazine of the Year.

Swerve led all magazines with 6 awards (2 Gold, 4 Silver). Magazine of the year co-finalists Avenue Calgary and Glass Buffalo were next with 2 Gold and 2 Silver each.

National Magazine Award-winning writer Omar Mouallem was the most decorated individual winner with 3 awards: Gold for Profiles and for Essays, and Silver for Feature Writing. NMA finalist Arno Kopecky also won a Gold award for Best Alberta Story.

Here are the Gold winners from the 2015 Alberta Magazine Awards:

Magazine of the Year: Avenue Edmonton

Alberta StoryAlberta Views Game Changer  – Arno Kopecky

Art Direction: Georgie No. 3 W14 – Nathan Marshall, art director; Neil Mota and Aaron Pedersen photographers

CoverWestern Living September 2014 “Designers of the Year – Paul Roelofs, art director; Evaan Kheraj portrait photographer

Digital PresenceAlberta Oil 10th Anniversary Tablet Edition – Ryan Girard, Kim Larson, Colton Ponto, Ben Rude, Jennifer Madole and Brent Felzien

Emerging Writer: Glass Buffalo  A Tale of Two Forms – Peter Takach

EssaySwerve Children of a Lessser Santa – Omar Mouallem

Feature DesignAvenue Edmonton Back in the Game – Pete Nguyen, art director

Feature WritingAlberta Venture Dot -111 – Anthony Davis

FictionGlass Buffalo Pearl – Bruce Cinnamon

IllustrationAvenue Calgary What’s Lost – Jon Krause

Photograph (Still-Life, Landscape, Architecture)Westworld Phantoms on Ice – Kurtis Kristianson, Spindrift Photography

Photograph (People and Portrait): Avenue Calgary Cultural Movement – Jared Sych

PoetryFreeFall But I’m no one – Weyman Chan

ProfileNew Trail Ray Muzyka’s Next Chapter  – Omar Mouallem

ServiceSwerve It’s Your Funeral  – Rita Sirignano

Editor of the Year: Steve Sandor, Avenue Edmonton

Volunteer of the YearJennifer Schmidt-Rempel, Lethbridge Living Magazine

Achievement in Publishing: Chris BirdKootenay Business Magazine andFly Fusion Magazine

Best New Magazine: Grains West

Check out all the highlights at albertamagazines.com/awards.

Check out the new issue of Prism International

The Winter 2015 issue of Prism International (Vol. 53, No. 2) is hot. Yes, we’re especially fond of the National Magazine Awards winners seal that adorns the cover, acknowledging writer Pasha Malla‘s silver medal for fiction (“The Actual” from Prism 51:3) at last year’s NMA gala.

The new issue features creative non-fiction by National Magazine Award winners Ayelet Tsabari–recent winner of the Sami Rohr prize–and Liz Windhorst Harmer, among others. And an impressive menu of short fiction and poetry, including a piece by NMA winner Alice Major.

You can find the new issue in select bookstores and literary newsstands, or online from the Prism store.