Announcing the new National Magazine Awards eBook (Yes, it’s Free!)

The National Magazine Awards Foundation (NMAF) is excited to announce the publication of our 35th anniversary eBook—Best in Magazines 2007-2012—now available for free download at the Apple iTunes store.
[Press release] [En français]

To celebrate thirty-five years of honouring excellence in the content and creation of Canadian magazines, the NMAF has put together this special collection of more than 30 award-winning stories, photography layouts and illustrations, featuring some of the top winners from this year’s National Magazine Awards as well as the best of the best from the past five years.

The new NMA eBook is filled with great stories from many of Canada’s most popular magazines, including The Walrus, Explore, Report on Business, Toronto Life, Maisonneuve, Chatelaine, Swerve, Cottage Life, Outdoor Canada, Alberta Views, Maclean’s, The Grid, Eighteen Bridges, Sportsnet and more.

HOW TO GET Best in Magazines 2007-2012
Best in Magazines is available exclusively for your iPad from the Apple iTunes store—FREE! Visit the below link to access the app Best in Magazines 2007-2012 from iTunes:

Or search “Best in Magazines 2007-2012” from your iPad App Store.

Visit for more information.

Best in Magazines 2007-2012 features some of the best work honoured at this year’s National Magazine Awards, including:

All In” by Don Gillmor, from Eighteen Bridges:
Ten-time National Magazine Award-winning writer Don Gillmor penned a moving personal essay about the late Canadian literary icon, filmmaker and musician Paul Quarrington, which appeared in the inaugural issue of Eighteen Bridges, a new magazine of creative journalism launched last year. An absolute must-read!

Where Asbestos is Just a Fact of Life” by John Gray and Stephanie Nolen, from Report on Business:
Perhaps the most decorated individual article in the Awards’ history, with a Gold, a Silver and 3 Honourable Mention awards at this year’s NMAs, this unparalleled investigative story follows the trail of Canada’s asbestos industry from Quebec to India. Definitely one of the most enlightening Canadian media stories of the year.

A Reading from the Book of Tebow” by Scott Feschuk, in Sportsnet:
The Gold winner in Humour at this year’s NMAs, from the pages of one of Canada’s newest magazines, is a satirical send-up of the biggest sports story of 2011, authored by renowned Canadian humourist Scott Feschuk. Don’t bother trying to stifle your laughter!

Got Spunk?” from The Grid, Art Direction by Vanessa Wyse:
A triple Gold winner at this year’s gala for Magazine Covers, Art Direction for a Single Article and Art Direction for an Entire Issue, the design of this issue from The Grid impressed NMA judges like few others in the Awards’ history. Vanessa Wyse’s spectacular conceptualization frames a wonderful investigative story on Canadian sperm banks by Danielle Groen, with photographs by Matthew Barnes.

Best in Magazines also features award-winning Canadian magazine stories and images from the past 5 years, including:
Best of the Best” – stories that won multiple awards, featuring work from Swerve, The Walrus, Toronto Life and Ryerson Review of Journalism;
Page One” – Gold-winning magazine covers from Feathertale Review, Report on Business, Toronto Life and Maisonneuve;
Memorable Stories” – Unforgettable stories that captivate and inspire, featuring work from Outdoor Canada, The New Quarterly, Chatelaine and AlbertaViews;
Beyond the Lens” – Stunning award-winning photography from Flare, Maisonneuve, Canadian Home & Country and Report on Business;
Great Service” – Celebrated service journalism from Swerve, Cottage Life and L’actualité;
Illustrious Design” – The best in magazine illustration from enRoute, Vancouver Review, This Magazine and The Walrus
Punchy Lines” – Gold-winning Humour articles from Maisonnueve, The Walrus and Maclean’s;
Hot New Talent” – Winners of the award for Best New Magazine Writer, featuring work from The Walrus, Chatelaine and Unlimited.

Plus, original interviews with National Magazine Award-winning writers and artists from the NMAF’s exclusive “Off the Page” interview series. And, the spectacular Smash Reel video from this year’s NMA Gala.

Visit for more information, including a list of all NMA-winning writers and artists featured in Best in Magazines 2007-2012.

The National Magazine Awards Foundation acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Summer Reading Series 7: Best Magazine Short Features

The Short Feature is the catchy folk song of the magazine world–three chords, succinct enlightenment, and a tune you’re glad to have stuck in your head.

Sure, a lot of what makes magazines great is the freedom they give writers to compose elaborate, multi-faceted rock operas of meaningful prose. (To wit: David Remnick’s twelve-million-word profile of Bruce Springsteen in a recent New Yorker.)

But the short feature starts and finishes the story without leaving you feeling like you just stayed up all night listening to Darkness on the Edge of Town.

This year we had a tie for the Gold in BSF–a dead-even top score after six independent judges evaluated the submissions–so we’re glad to feature them both in our Summer Reading Series, along with the first-ever winner in this category.

As always, these complete articles and those of all finalists and winners from recent years can be found in the National Magazine Awards archive (

1.JJ Lee on the first time he told a girl she was beautiful,” ELLE Canada (2011 Gold winner, tie, in Best Short Feature)
It’s an episode we can all relate to: first love. For memoirist JJ Lee–writing in ELLE‘s popular “First” series–it was the very moment that the comic-book femininity he’d come to know in early adolescence faded into the blinding eclipse of a real-life muse. And in that universally awkward moment of expression, he felt himself becoming an artist.

“The words had struck her. She would never look at herself in a mirror the same way again. They had struck me too. And I felt doomed because I knew we had our whole future to separate us from the simple closeness of the moment. That was the day I began a lifelong career as a maudlin nostalgic.” [Read more]

2.When Your Mother is a Strangerby Heather O’Neill, Chatelaine (2011 Gold winner, tie, in Best Short Feature)
In this vivid reconstruction of a singularly tender moment–meeting her mother after an absence of ten years–two-time National Magazine Award winner Heather O’Neill (she also won Gold in this same category in 2010) rewinds her childhood to each of the most potent memories that can help her re-imagine this stranger as her mother, a person of ancient familiarity in a suddenly foreign context.

“I went to the address she gave me. She was living in a building known as the Crazy People Building. It has the cheapest rent in the neighbourhood and is filled with people who can never quite pull it together. Bare-chested men hang out of the windows in the summer. A man who lives there carries around a white kitten that wears a tie and is introduced as Mr. Timothy. There is an old man who dances on his toes as he walks, blowing kisses at anyone he makes eye contact with.” [Read more]

3.The Alchemy of Pork Fatby Gerald Hannon, Toronto Life (2007 Gold winner in Best Short Feature)
When the NMAF launched the Best Short Feature category in 2007, Toronto Life‘s foodie memoirs turned out to be an ideal fit (the judges that year awarded four of the ten finalists’ spots to these tasty TL shorts, each consisting of a personal essay and a recipe), and none better than the Gold-winning piece by 13-time National Magazine Award winner Gerald Hannon.

Hannon–warts and all–reminisces on the great motherly myths of food, especially those involving lard, and wonders how he could have evolved such a passion for gastronomy without them.

“Food, perhaps because it was scarce and unvarying, always seemed to tremble with the potential for good or ill. Even in her old age, [my mother] could not add cucumber to a salad without first neutralizing its ‘poison’ in a way she had learned from her mother: you cut about an inch off the end, rubbed that piece vigorously against the other cut edge until a milky liquid—the poison—appeared, then you threw out the small, now noxious piece to render the rest of the cucumber safe to eat.” [Read more]

Read these stories and more at the National Magazine Awards archive:

Previous editions of our Summer Reading Series: Travel | Essays | Sports & Rec | Fiction | Personal Journalism | Poetry

Springsteen photo credit: Dave Cooper / Toronto Star

Alberta to Get Literary this weekend

The Alberta Magazine Publishers Association is bringing the best of local literary journalism to Calgary’s Olympic Plaza (or Central Library, in the event of rain) this Sunday, August 26, with readings by some of the West’s best prose and poetry artists.

The event will be hosted by Kris Demeanor, former winner of the National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer,* now the poet laureat of the City of Calgary.

Participating authors include National Magazine Award finalists Marcello di Cintio, Fred Stenson and Naomi K. Lewis, and others.

Visit the AMPA for more information.

*Read “Get a Real Job” by Kris Demeanor in unlimited, 2008 winner of Best New Magazine Writer at the National Magazine Awards. Visit the NMA Archives to read full-text articles by hundreds of finalists and winners.

Summer Reading Series 6: Profound Poetry

Hannah Arendt

“Poetry, whose material is language, is perhaps the most human and least worldly of the arts, the one in which the end product remains closest to the thought that inspired it.”
– Hannah Arendt

As our Summer Reading Series continues with a selection of poetry, we prefer not to linger too long by way of introduction.  As A. E. Housman wrote, “Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out… Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.”  We tend to agree.  Better to let the poets speak for poetry and let the poems speak for themselves.

The following winners in the category of Poetry, and many others, can be found in the National Magazine Awards archive (

1. “Pa” and “Bq” by Matthew Holmes, Arc (2011 Gold winner in Poetry)
Though we do not always need perfect understanding before (or even after) the reading of a poem, an author’s insight into the creative process is often as delightful as the poem itself.  Holmes offers a welcome hint or two in a thought-provoking introduction, followed by the award-winning pair of poems from his project, “The failing of purity”:

how water bends before letting your finger in, how
rain is coming (the flower says), how
rain is coming, how
luck falls, like salt thrown by a god, it falls not. [Read more]

2. “St. Anthony’s Fire” and “The Perfect Fatherhood” by Shane Neilson, The Fiddlehead, (2011 Silver winner in Poetry)
In these fluid configurations, Neilson muses about two profoundly manifest contemplations of the heart: the ironies inherent in god, and the mysteries of parenthood in its wondrous responsibility for another life.

Robbed of touch with peripheral neuropathies and the visible sores, the manna from heaven contaminated with Claviceps purpurea, whole civilizations monster-movied, disease being the measure of purity in a lost, misbegotten heaven… [Read more]

3.Paradise, Later Yearsby Marion Quednau, Malahat Review (2009 Gold winner in Poetry)
In this playful and insightful work, Quednau composes a rhythmic meditation on the nature of our relationship with nature and, ultimately, with ourselves:

I’ve taught them everything I know: that greed is largely forgivable grandstanding, and making a small ruckus is good, might still change the world, and thirst when it hits you, despite an abundance of water and wine for some, and nothing dripping down the spout for all the rest, is merely stoppered-up desire, and what makes humans so different from that lobster not going at all gently is that we can have what we want – scary thought. [Read more]

Read these stories and more at the National Magazine Awards archive:

Previous editions of our Summer Reading Series: Travel | Essays | Sports & Rec | Fiction | Personal Journalism

Gaspésie Photography Festival includes Exhibits by NMA Winners

The third annual Gaspésie International Photography Festival (Rencontres internationales de la photographie en Gaspésie) is underway in eastern Quebec through September 10, with exhibitions by more than 30 photographers from Canada, the US and Europe.

But next week marks the highlight of the summer event–la Semaine professionnel–with workshops and conferences open to the public, and a chance to interact with many of the featured photographers. Among the participants this year are National Magazine Award-winning conceptual photographer Edward Burtynsky, whose exhibit “Oil” looks quite fascinating.

The festival is organized by former NMA nominee and renowned Quebec photographer Jean-François Bérubé, whose exhibit of portraitures is entitled “Gaspésiennes.”

The festival is promoted by various tourism outfits of Quebec and the Gaspésie region, and is more than a great excuse to sojourn on that beautiful peninsula this summer. Find out more at

Photo courtesy Edward Burtynsky /

Magazine Events this Weekend in Vancouver & Calgary

Tip o’ the hat to the Canadian Magazines Canadiens blog for the alert to a pair of interesting events this weekend:

Mag Scene on Main, August 16-18 in Vancouver: 3 days of interactive events by local artists and literary magazines in businesses and cultural spaces around Main Street. Participating magazines: Color, Discorder, Fillip, Geist, OCW Magazine, Poetry is Dead, Prism, Ricepaper, Room, subTerrain and The Vancouver Observer. Supported by Magazine Association of British Columbia.

The People’s Poetry Festival, August 17-19 in Calgary: Showcasing local and aspiring poets and spoken word artists, this 3-day festival uses public and private space around Kensington to share a love of poetry with all audiences. Readings, workshops and other random acts of poetry. Supported by Alberta Magazine Publishers Association.

Check out Papirmasse with NMA Winner Genevieve Simms

Papirmasse, they say, is a magazine, work of art, and social experiment all rolled into one. Subscribers to the publication receive each month a specially commissioned art print with an original piece of creative writing on the flip side.

This month, Issue #32 of Papirmasse (pronounced PAH-purr-mass, a play on the Dutch word for ‘pulp’) features National Magazine Award-winning illustrator Genevieve Simms* and a short story by Matt Prins.

Papirmasse was founded to recognize emerging artists and promote their work among art enthusiasts who may be looking for something beyond reprints of Old Masters for their collections. According to the site:

Papirmasse was founded in 2008 by Canadian artist Kirsten McCrea. Realizing that few people are in a position to buy original artwork and that the reproductions offered in commercial stores are bland and banal, Papirmasse was born.  Appreciators of art who would like to own original and contemporary works: rejoice!  Here at Papirmasse, art is for everyone.

Visit or @papirmasse for more info. And check out the back issues for more inspiration to subscribe.

* Genevieve Simms won Gold in the category Spot Illustration at the 2010 National Magazine Awards, for her work “Northern Vegas” in AlbertaViews magazine. She was also a finalist in 2009 for the award Best New Visual Creator for her work in Swerve

Summer Reading Series 5: Award-Winning Personal Journalism

The fifth installment of the National Magazine Awards’ summer reading series turns your attention to Personal Journalism. For anyone unfamiliar with this type of magazine writing, let’s borrow a line from the Creative Nonfiction Mandate of The Malahat Review–the literary journal of the University of Victoria and a winner of 26 National Magazine Awards for fiction, poetry and personal journalism. What we find in this genre of writing are stories:

“… strongly based in reality that enlighten or educate the reader via fresh insights, powerful use of language, and compelling storytelling. It is not always enough that the stories have a personal basis–they must move the reader into an apprehension of wider human situations or issues.”

Well put. These NMA-winning personal essays certainly fit that bill. As always, these and other award-winning magazine articles may be mined at the National Magazine Awards archive:

1. Parti sans bruit(“He Left Quietly”) by Anne Marie Lecomte, Châtelaine (2011 Gold winner in Personal Journalism)
A woman desperately in mourning retraces the path of her motherhood after the shocking suicide of her son, probing for a psychology that will repair the catastrophic disorder of grief. Ms. Lecomte’s soulful firsthand account of enduring and transmuting the ultimate family crisis, converting it into wisdom and stark advice for all parents, won a Quebec Magazine Award as well as a National Magazine Award this past spring.

“Ce n’est que maintenant que je vois la cruelle parenté des structures que j’avais tenté d’ériger autour de lui. L’OPP pour lui faire aimer l’école, le PPO pour le mettre à l’abri des pires dérives. Mais, qu’importe nos efforts inouïs, nos enfants ne sont jamais à l’abri. J’invente maintenant un acronyme: POP, pour parents orphelins perpétuellement.” [Lire la suite]

2.Tourists of Consciousnessby Jeff Warren, Maisonneuve (2010 Gold winner in Personal Journalism)
A superdrug for the overworked psyche may have been found in the form of an elixir distilled from a tropical plant long known locally for its psychedelic properties, and the curious Jeff Warren heads down to investigate in this article that just about puts the mercy in immersive journalism.

Of course, he’s not the first outsider to try this super secret sacrament (he can’t even tell us in which Latin American country he imbibed this magical ayahuasca), and not the first Canadian magazine writer to experiment on himself for the benefit of us readers (read Michael Posner’s 2006 Walrus piece “Plants with Soul” for a nice complement to the story of the drug).

But Warren meditates on how the drug can answer the call of the spiritually needy who may still endure blueness despite a century of psycho-analytic attention from Western science.

“I was even more skeptical about the metaphysical assertions. We don’t believe dreams are “real”—why should an ayahuasca vision be any different? Nevertheless, the rich history of ayahuasca usage has undeniable authority; in the end, the only way to really answer these questions was to launch into the psychedelic troposphere and find out for myself.” [Read more]

3. Cause and Effectby Lynn Cunningham, The Walrus (2009 Gold winner in Personal Journalism)
A stirring, eighteen-year portrait of a woman’s unexpected encounter with fetal alcohol syndrome–which affects her step-grandson–and the battles she fought in both his life and her own, this memoir by former NMAF Outstanding Achievement Award winner Lynn Cunningham is the essence of the genre: splendid research and fact-finding couched in dramatic, introspective and exquisitely written personal experience.

“[S]obriety finally made it to the top of the list, along with completing the last two courses of my Ph.D. I figured quitting drinking would at least free up some dough to pay down my debt and help with the many hundreds of dollars’ worth of required reading. Besides, Andrew was already smoking dope; booze—about as healthy as heroin for FAS kids—would doubtless follow, but it’s hard to lecture about why drinking is dangerous with a third glass of wine in your hand.” [Read more]

Read these stories and more at the National Magazine Awards archive:

Previous editions of our Summer Reading Series: Travel | Essays | Sports & Rec | Fiction

Summer Reading Series 4: Fantastic Fiction

“Fiction has been maligned for centuries as being ‘false,’ ‘untrue,’ yet good fiction provides more truth about the world, about life, and even about the reader, than can be found in non-fiction.”
— Clark Zlotchew

We read essays to learn, to taste slices of history, to keep up on current events.  Not so with fiction.  We begin reading every story without any idea of what awaits us.  Reading fiction is an act of discovery, a small journey that is never the same twice, and all that we can hope to discover along the way is something of ourselves.

Our Summer Reading Series continues this week with a selection of award-winning fiction, all (and more) available at the National Magazine Awards archive (

1.Four Cornersby Bill Gaston, Event (2011 Gold winner in Fiction)
“I want, I don’t want.
How can one live with such a heart?”
— Margaret Atwood

The intricacies of a relationship and the confusions of love will never cease to be fodder for the writer of fiction. In this poignant tale of a breakup gone askew, Bill Gaston probes the mysteries of discovering ourselves in others and why we often only want what we can’t have.

“He should have asked her more questions about herself, not let her get away with being so private. And he should have told her more about himself. And about Shannon, about how another new layer of skin grows to protect from each mean flick of the tongue. About how never really listening to Cheryl is part of that thickened skin of his. He really needs most of all to tell her that his ears, and his heart, are full of skin.” [Read more]

2.Shared Room on Unionby Steven Heighton, The Fiddlehead (2009 Gold winner in Fiction)
“No one remains quite what he was when he recognizes himself.”
— Thomas Mann

A young couple. A carjacker who doesn’t drive. A broke, and broken, passer-by. What happens when a chance encounter forces us to confront the things we want above all else to hide about ourselves? Or wish above all else to keep hidden in others? Does the propensity of the human heart toward self-delusion outweigh the achingly desperate need for some semblance of intimacy? Exhausting every nuance of what it means to know, Steven Heighton writes with subtle prose and an exquisite sense of irony in this critically acclaimed short story.

“Though their bodies were jammed together at many points, in this extremity he was fully alone. She must feel the same. He guessed she must feel the same… Surely, whatever happened, they would live differently now.” [Read more]

3.Dead Man’s Weddingby Andrew Tibbetts, The Malahat Review (2008 Gold winner in Fiction)
In this unique and touching coming-of-age story, Andrew Tibbetts chronicles the interactions of two families, one Canadian and one American, celebrating Mother’s Day at their neighbouring cottages. With sharp humour and a keen sense of the profundity of the mundane, Tibbetts explores the clash of cultures, a mother’s desperate love, and the heartbreakingly earnest desire of a young boy to find his place in the world.

“We play nonchalantly. We look casual. Content. Only Sassafras is close enough to see that our calm is pretend, to see how bored we are with Crazy Eights and Old Maid and Go Fish. Only Sassafras sees how full we are of longing for something mysterious and wild, something that has nothing to do with us, but could swerve into our world to make all the known things new and dangerous. Shine your beam of light, Sassafras, to draw them here; come, tacky Yankees, come to spoil the peace and quiet.” [Read more]

Read these articles and more at the National Magazine Awards archive:

Previous editions of our Summer Reading Series: Travel | Essays | Sports & Recreation

Image of Clark Zlotchew courtesy

Vote for the Manitoba Magazine of the Year

The Manitoba Magazine Publishers Association is hosting its annual awards–the Maggies–on September 13 at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg.

In addition to the juried categories, this year there is a peoples’ choice award for Best Manitoba Magazine (consumer and b2b divisions). Click below to vote for your favourite Manitoba magazine! The contest closes on August 10.