Kim Pittaway to receive 2016 NMAF Outstanding Achievement Award

The National Magazine Awards Foundation is pleased to announce that renowned journalist, editor, teacher and mentor Kim Pittaway will be the recipient of the 2016 Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement, recognizing career excellence and service to the Canadian magazine industry. The NMAF will present Kim with this prestigious honour at the 39th annual National Magazine Awards gala on June 10. The nominees in all other categories will be announced on May 2.

As a mentor, Kim has inspired my own path in magazine publishing with simple advice: Get involved, volunteer, mentor a young person, have an opinion, lead an organization.
Joyce Byrne, president of the NMAF and publisher, Avenue Calgary


Kim Pittaway began her magazine career as a writer and columnist of exceptional insight for Chatelaine in the early 1990s, and soon earned herself a staff position as managing editor, where she oversaw the development of the magazine’s early digital platforms in an era when few saw the true publishing potential of the web. “Kim quickly earned a reputation for leadership on many fronts,” said Chatelaine’s former editor-in-chief Rona Maynard. “Among her readers for her forthright column; among her peers for generous mentoring; and among corporate decision-makers for her strategic sense.”

When Kim succeeded her mentor as editor-in-chief of Chatelaine, she continued to nurture emerging writers. “With her guidance,” said Beth Hitchcock, who wrote her first magazine story for Kim, “I learned the art of structure, the importance of word choice, and most importantly for the editing process, the language of collaboration and respect.” Writers who’ve worked with Kim frequently praise her commitment to building a strong relationship that can lead to the kind of challenging questions that bring out the best in a writer and a story.


Over the years, I’ve read Kim’s many powerful stories in Canadian magazines, and often used them in my advanced feature-writing course at Ryerson. And I know her as a tireless promoter of the best in magazine journalism. I have witnessed her inspired approach to teaching, and students laud her for her generosity and dedication when working with writers.
David Hayes, National Magazine Award-winning magazine writer, teacher and director of the NMAF


After moving on from Chatelaine in 2005, Kim returned to freelance journalism—she’s been published in Today’s Parent, More, Homemakers,Cottage Life, Best Health, Reader’s Digest and others, earning 8 National Magazine Awards nominations—and teaching. She taught journalism at Ryerson University, went on to earn her MFA in creative non-fiction from Goucher College, and joined the faculty at the University of King’s College, mentoring students in its journalism and MFA programs. As a teacher, said 2014 King’s graduate Nicole Halloran, “Kim taught us that a magazine is like a puzzle; it’s a matter of playing with the pieces until you get it right. She emphasized the value of teamwork and how to make stories come alive.”

“Kim Pittaway is not only a gifted writer and editor,” added Stephen Kimber, professor of journalism at King’s. “She is also an exceptionally generous and thoughtful mentor and teacher. We are honoured to have her at King’s, especially as part of our new MFA in Creative Nonfiction program.”

As a respected leader in the Canadian magazine industry, Kim has long been an advocate for inclusivity, volunteerism, brand building and knowledge sharing. She served on the editorial board of THIS Magazine, demonstrating a commitment to small, independent magazines where many young writers and editors get their start. For many years she has served as a consultant for Magazines Canada and the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association, travelling the country to engage in dialogue with her peers about how to improve our craft and work collaboratively. “As a magazine and digital consultant,” said Lisa Murphy, creative services director of House & Home Media, “Kim has been an invaluable help to countless publishers and brands—always offering innovative, creative, honest and challenging advice delivered with warmth and humour.”


As a consultant, Kim brings not only a wealth of magazine knowledge, but also an understanding of small magazines and the challenges they face. Always patient and inspiring, she ensures that professional development activities represent the needs and interests of the entire Canadian magazine community.
Lisa Whittington-Hill, publisher, THIS Magazine


Long a champion of the rights and recognition of magazine creators, Kim assumed the presidency of the National Magazine Awards Foundation in 2006 and helped guide the organization—and the industry—to strengthen its mandate to support and promote the work of the teams and individuals who create the award-worthy content that magazine readers across Canada love.

For her enduring dedication to the Canadian magazine industry, for the principled leadership and mentorship that has impacted the careers of many, and for her unfailing support of magazine creators, the NMAF is proud to recognize Kim Pittaway with its highest individual honour, the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement.


I am so proud to share a last name with my sister Kim. She is foremost a gifted writer and editor. She has been endlessly generous in sharing her gifts of finding the heart of a story, and plotting a path towards telling it, with countless writers whom she has worked with and mentored. Her understanding of the business side of publishing and how to best serve readers and the bottom line is something I, as a freelancer, have sought advice on frequently as well. I am completely thrilled for her, and join all of you in celebrating her incredible contributions to journalism and Canadian publishing.
Tina Pittaway, freelance journalist


Kim Pittaway in the National Magazine Awards archive:

  • 5-Star Tribute” (More, 2012, Honourable Mention, Words & Pictures)
  • For Goodness’ Sake” (More, 2009, Honourable Mention, Single Service Article Package)
  • The Game of Risk” (More, 2008, Honourable Mention, Service: Health & Family)
  • Sudden Impact” (Today’s Parent, 2008, Honourable Mention, Health & Medicine)
  • Too Young for Breast Cancer” (Homemakers, 2008, Honourable Mention, Best Short Feature)
  • The Last Time” (More, 2007, Honourable Mention, Words & Pictures)
  • “A Call to Arms” (Chatelaine, 2003, Honourable Mention, Columns)
  • “Sex Offenders: What You Need to Know” (Chatelaine, 1995, Honourable Mention, Service Journalism)

ABOUT THE OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
The NMAF’s most prestigious individual prize is the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement, an award that recognizes an individual’s innovation and creativity through contributions to the magazine industry.

The award is open to circulation experts, editors, marketing, sales and promotion professionals, publishers, creators, designers, production managers–in short, to anyone in the industry. It cannot be given posthumously. Nominations are welcome from everyone in the industry and are due each year by March 1. The recipient is selected by the Board of the National Magazine Awards Foundation. No entry fee is required. Applicants not selected will be kept under consideration for two (2) additional years.

For more information visit magazine-awards.com/oa

NATIONAL MAGAZINE AWARDS NOMINEES
The nominees for the 39th annual National Magazine Awards will be announced on Monday, May 2. Follow us on this blog or on Twitter @MagAwards for all the nominees.

The winners will be announced at the 2016 National Magazine Awards gala on June 10 in Toronto. Tickets go on sale May 2 at magazine-awards.com.

Photo of Kim Pittaway by Aaron McKenzie Fraser

Off the Page, with poet Michael Prior

At the start of summerfall, and early spring, the National Magazine Awards Foundation publishes a comprehensive list of magazine writing contests and prizes. These contests are great opportunities for emerging writers and poets to establish their presence in CanLit. Michael Prior is one such emerging writer, and in just a few years he’s compiled an impressive record of Canadian magazine publications and contest wins.

Doggedly submitting his work to numerous literary publications, between 2013 and 2015 Michael placed in over a dozen competitions and garnered scores of publications in literary journals and magazines across Canada.

His success as a poet has evolved from literary publications to small-press chapbooks–Swan Dive (Frog Hollow Press, 2014) included poetry first published in The Walrus, Lemon Hound and the Winnipeg Reviewto a debut, book-length collection recently published by Véhicule Press: Model Disciple (Spring 2016).

Recently the NMAF caught up with Michael, currently pursuing an MFA at Cornell University, to chat about magazine contests and building a career as a writer.

NMAF: Your poetry career emerged quite recently and has been moving at breakneck-speed. How and when did you first set foot in the world of Canadian poetry, and why were you drawn to this world?

Michael Prior: I think, like a lot of other writers, I was nudged into this by a series of passionate teachers and professors. I had always liked poetry, but it wasn’t until later in my undergrad that I actually began to read poems deeply. And then, when I did, they became these fascinating and visceral experiences: Dickinson took off the top of my head. Lowell made me feel like my mind was in a vise. Bishop asked me to look more carefully until the act of looking became a way of thinking.

NMAF: “To Hunt” (2013) garnered you your first poetry contest win: 2nd place in Echolocation’s Chase Chapbook Competition. You were in Vancouver at the time; what drew you to submitting to the Toronto-based Echolocation? What did it mean to win, and what happened—personally and professionally—next?

Michael Prior: Well, I’m not sure anything happened immediately, but placing second certainly gave me a little more confidence. I hadn’t been making poems for long at that point, and I remember having received a few rejections around the same time, so it was a nice validation to think that someone liked something I had written.

 

NMAF: You’ve since won poetry contests in acclaimed Canadian magazines, such as Vallum, Grain, The Walrus, and Matrix Magazine. There are often financial incentives to entering magazine writing contests, but what are some of the not-so-obvious perks? (Winning the Matrix Lit POP Award, for instance, includes tickets to POP Montreal and offers poets the opportunity to present on stage.)

Michael PriorPrairie Fire’s Bliss Carman Poetry Prize invites its winner out to the Thin Air Festival, and the Robert Kroetsch Award from Matrix comes with perhaps the ultimate prize: a first book publication deal for its winner.

But in terms of less tangible perks, I would argue that the primary benefit of literary magazine contests is that most are run through a blind submission process; that is, the readers and judges aren’t permitted to see the authors’ names, and therefore have to judge the work on its own merits without the context of a writer’s corpus, their stature in a literary community—in theory, this should level the playing field a bit for less-established writers.

But of course, the factors involved in any contest’s outcome are undeniably complex. There are aspects of contest culture that might favour certain aesthetics, certain experiences, certain types of poems about certain things. Connected to this is the question of who’s actually entering literary magazine contests. Economic means can be an obstacle to submitting (contests usually cost around $30 to enter, which is a lot for someone struggling to make ends meet) and identity can also be a determining factor: writers of colour may be uneasy about sending their work to prizes if the judge is of European descent, while LGBTTQI writers may apprehensive about submitting to a contest judged by a cisgender, straight individual.

 

Regardless of whether one wins, or doesn’t, I think it’s important to remember that placing in a contest is only a small measure of success. What matters is that one keeps writing and reading and writing.

 

I do think, however, that contests present an important opportunity for writers, as long as one takes their inscription of hierarchies, their tendencies, with a grain of salt; the magazines that run contests should be thinking (if they aren’t already) about how to attract more diverse submissions from diverse writers. Mostly, I hope that judges and readers are doing their best to be respectful, empathetic, imaginative, and inclusive when considering contest submissions.

 

NMAF: Which Canadian literary magazines are on your reading list right now?

Michael Prior: There are many great Canadian literary magazines, though due to budget constraints I have to rotate subscriptions. Right now, the stack of periodicals on my bedside table includes issues of Ricepaper, Poetry is Dead, The New Quarterly, Canadian Notes and Queries, The Walrus, Maisonneuve, and The Fiddlehead.

I do my best to keep up with Canada’s burgeoning online publications, and like many of the poet folk I know, I eagerly await each new issue of The Puritan and The Rusty Toque. Also online: the poet Robin Richardson recently founded the Minola Review in order to create a unique publishing space for women, femme-identifying, and non-binary writers; the influential website Lemon Hound, though no longer publishing, remains an important archive; and Plenitude Magazine continues to publish and promote the work of LGBTTQI writers in Canada.

Needless to say, I think it’s apparent that there’s a lot of exciting work happening among Canada’s many literary magazines, of which I’ve only mentioned a small number, and I’m very grateful for all the editors and staff who volunteer countless hours to sift through the submissions and support new work.

 

NMAF: While completing your Master’s at the University of Toronto, you were a Poetry Editor at Echolocation. You’re now an MFA candidate at Cornell, and an Assistant Editor at Cornell’s Epoch Magazine. How does a magazine editor at a small press literary journal go about attracting new writing talent and new readers? As an editor, what do you look for in poetry submissions?

Michael Prior: To answer the first part of your question, I think an engaged editor obviously needs to read widely: books, journals, websites, blogs, and all the other places poems might be proliferating. This is undoubtedly time consuming—we’re all busy, and resources tend to be scarce at small magazines—but I think this sort of effort is essential to fostering a magazine’s ethos, which emerges over time through both the work an editor solicits, and the work an editor accepts from the slush pile. This becomes an even harder thing to foster at a student-run journal, where the staff changes every year.

Editorial work, in my opinion, requires a simultaneously historical and forward-looking perspective (what has happened, what is happening, what will happen next / what might I like to see happening more in the future). Editors are unavoidably gate-keepers. There’s no way around it: a magazine cannot, nor should it try to be, everything at once (though its scope of interest need not be narrow)—what’s important is that the literary landscape is able to support a diverse range of publications, and by extension, a diverse range of editors.

And of course, I believe editors should always be questioning what they like and why. As Jim Johnstone once said to me, it’s much easier to quickly dismiss a piece of writing than it is to spend the time and learn how it’s asking to be read. Some writing opens up in unexpected ways with a little persistence.

"Model Discipline" by Michael Prior is now available from Véhicule Press.
“Model Discipline” by Michael Prior is now available from Véhicule Press.

As for what I personally look for in a submission, well, I’m interested in poems that are compelling experiences, surprising experiences, experiences that are emotionally complex and powerful—poems that have something at stake beyond language as a game of phonemic pick-up sticks. Memorability is often a good marker of this for me: if I am re-experiencing a poem at unexpected times (while riding the bus, or when walking a corgi) moments when the poem is not right in front of me, that’s usually a good sign.

I am also interested in a poem’s formal qualities, especially its engagement with what has preceded it—its conversation with other poems, traditions, and modes. In other words, how aware is the poem of the fact it wasn’t written in a vacuum? This isn’t to say I’m only interested in canonically inherited formal structures (though I am a sucker for a well-written sonnet): I’m as equally enraptured by Alexandra Oliver’s metrical brilliance as I am by Alice Fulton’s fractal poetics or Cathy Park Hong’s renovation of the ballad form through lipogrammatic constraints.

NMAF: As both a writer and editor, what advice do you have for those new poets who have yet to enter a magazine writing contest?

Michael Prior: While it’s nice to win, entering a contest can be a helpful creative impetus: use the contest as a deadline to generate new work; use the contest as a way to support an admired publication; use the contest to hopefully get one’s work before the eyes of a favourite writer.

And regardless of whether one wins, or doesn’t, I think it’s important to remember that placing in a contest is only a small measure of success. What matters is that one keeps writing and reading and writing.


From the National Magazine Awards Foundation:


Michael Prior’s Model Disciple was released on March 29th, 2016. Véhicule Press has declared it “one of the most commanding poetic debuts in years” and the CBC included Model Disciple on their Spring 2016 Books Preview. Model Disciple is available in bookstores and for order now.

Michael holds an MA in English with a Creative Thesis from the University of Toronto, where he was the poetry editor of EcholocationHe’s now a poetry candidate at Cornell University, and an assistant poetry editor at Epoch Magazine. Though living in America, he’s still actively publishing in Canadian magazines, with work recently appearing in recent issues of The Puritan and Canadian Notes and Queries. He also has poems forthcoming in Ricepaper and The Fiddlehead. Discover more at MichaelPrior.ca and on Twitter @MichaelPrior06.

Special thanks to Leah Edwards for researching and conducting this interview on behalf of the NMAF.

The nominees for the 39th annual National Magazine Awards will be announced on Monday,. May 2, 2016. Follow us right here on this blog or on Twitter (@MagAwards) to find out who will be the finalists this year. 

2016 Sheridan Illustration Exhibit opens Thursday April 14

Thursday in Toronto the graduating class of Sheridan College’s diploma program in Visual and Creative Arts–Illustration, will showcase their work at the 99 Sudbury Gallery, in an exhibit titled The Neighbourhood.

Each year this presentation by emerging illustrators proves to be spectacular, and a great way to check out the next generation of graphic artists.

The exhibit is open to the public on Thursday evening, April 14, at 7pm at the gallery at 99 Sudbury. The exhibit continues Friday afternoon from 2-9pm.

The Sheridan illustration program is led by Donna Braggins, formerly the art director of Maclean’s and Canadian Business magazines, and past president of the National Magazine Awards Foundation.