Looking for that perfect (okay, perfect last-minute) stocking stuffer? Do they love to read, laugh, cook or shop? Do they love great writing, photography and illustration? Then stuff a great, National Magazine Award-winning magazine in that stocking. Here are some of our favourites from 2016. (And for more ideas, check out our holiday book guide, with new books by NMA-winning writers.)
A quarterly magazine of arts, literature, ideas and culture, published in English in Montreal. You’ll find a great mix of new and established writers, artists and photojournalists packaged around award-winning design. A perfect magazine for an afternoon on the sofa or a long train ride home. Also, it’s Canada’s Magazine of the Year in 2016 (1 of 5 NMAs it won this year), so you know every issue is a must-read. 2 years (8 issues) for just $30
Winner of 4 National Magazine Awards in 2016 including Essays and Investigative Reporting, this thought-provoking magazine of longform journalism published in Edmonton is consistent in introducing readers to Canada’s best writers and important stories. 4 issues for $26
CNQ: Canadian Notes & Queries
Winner of the 2016 National Magazine Award for Fiction, CNQ publishes some of this country’s finest literary criticism, poetry, graphic works, and short fiction. 1 year (3 issues) for just $25
Winner of the 2016 National Magazine Award for Poetry, Vallum is one of Canada’s very best publications for poetry and literary reviews, and regularly features Canada’s best poets as well as emerging ones. 1 year (2 issues) for $20
Globe Style Advisor
Also a winner of 4 National Magazine Awards in 2016 for its photography and design, Globe Style is one of our favourites for fashion and style journalism. Get it with your Globe & Mailsubscription. And you can get award-winning Report on Businessmagazine, too.
An award-winning magazine of design, decor, lifestyle and more, Western Living was a 2016 National Magazine Award winner and consistently delivers quality ideas that are in line with the latest and greatest trends. 1 year (10 issues) digitally for just $18
The Feathertale Review
A literary magazine dedicated to great humour (twice an NMA winner in that category), Feathertale makes a great gift for anyone who loves to laugh and enjoys the lighter side of CanLit. 1 year (4 issues) for $30
A Canadian tradition in a magazine, Cottage Life is not only the perfect companion to country living in all four seasons, it mixes practical advice with award-winning journalism. Don’t go into the woods without it. 1 year all access print and digital for $30
Here at the National Magazine Awards Foundation, nothing brings us greater joy than diving into our next non-fiction read. Non-fiction gnaws at us because prose based on real people and real events tends to capture, move, and inspire us.
So to bid farewell to the year that was, we’ve rounded up some of our top non-fiction reads by National Magazine Award-winning authors — aka fool-proof gift ideas — that will undoubtedly please (and hopefully inspire) anyone you’re looking to spoil this holiday season.
Alexandra Shimo’s new book, Invisible North, is a cry for help for our Indigenous peoples: their lives, their land and their dignity.
Shimo is not Indigenous. The lived experience and documentation of our Indigenous peoples, by Indigenous peoples, is of utmost importance to the amendment of Canada’s history and will play a crucial part in shaping our country’s future. Shimo is, however, an investigative reporter, who, while on assignment for CBC’s The Current, discovered the devastating reality of Canada’s Indigenous reserves. When Shimo travelled to the Kashechewan reserve in northern Ontario — known better to some as “ground zero” for the First Nation experience — she witnessed firsthand the deplorable living conditions, major lack of services and the relentless government inaction faced by the Cree living on that land. In Invisible North, she recounts her deep-seated guilt, struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and ultimate inability to cope with the living conditions on the reserve.
Shimo is a former editor of Maclean’s. She is the recipient of three honorable mentions at the National Magazine Awards, including for her Toronto Life piece, “Kandahar Diaries,” five stories from soldiers after their return from Afghanistan. This is her third book.
“A Disappearance in Damascus” by Deborah Campbell
“Did I find her or did she find me?” writes Deborah Campbell in her new book, A Disappearance in Damascus(Knopf Canada), winner of the Writers’ Trust Award. Her is in reference to Ahlam, Campbell’s ‘fixer’— journalist jargon for a foreign correspondent’s interpreter or guide. An Iraqi mother and humanitarian, Ahlam is of invaluable assistance to Campbell throughout her Middle-East reportage, and when she gets taken by secret agents, the journalist, who has reported from countries including Egypt, Qatar and Russia among others, can’t help but take the blame for her disappearance. Campbell spends months in search of her friend in the perilous city.
The story takes place almost a decade ago, rendering the title somewhat misleading. When Ahlam disappeared, Campbell was reporting on the Iraq War, at a time when Iraqis were fleeing to Syria for refuge. Despite this, Campbell’s account provides a contemporary piece of the puzzle that is the current state of war in Syria.
Campbell is the winner of two National Magazine Gold Awards for her articles in The Walrus— “The Most Hated Name in News” and “Iran’s Quiet Revolution”— published in 2009 and 2006 respectively. She has written for many publications, including Harper’s, The Guardian and Foreign Policy, and has spent over a decade reporting abroad.
“The Marriott Cell” by Mohamed Fahmy (w/ Carol Shaben)
Just over one year ago, Egyptian-born Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy was awaiting bail from behind bars of an Egyptian maximum security prison. He, along with two other Al-Jazeera journalists, were sentenced to 7-10 years, accused of reporting false news, after police raided their makeshift studio in the Marriott Hotel in Cairo. According to Human Rights Watch, the trial of Fahmy was a “miscarriage of justice based on zero evidence.” Despite this, the three spent over a year in prison before making bail following a presidential pardon.
Now, finally free and back in Canada, Fahmy is an adjunct professor at UBC, and he’s just published The Marriott Cell (Random House), a book on his harrowing experience in Egypt. The book is a collaboration of efforts by Fahmy and Carol Shaben, a former NMA winner.
Shaben is the winner of two National Magazine Awards for her story, “Fly at Your Own Risk” (The Walrus), about the deficiencies of Canada’s smaller aviation aircrafts and companies. She has written one other book, Into the Abyss, and lives in Vancouver.
The problem with turning 60? It’s so goddamn melodramatic, says Ian Brown, who wrote about the experience in a bygone Globe and Mail column.
A year later, he’s written a book on the subject of his life since, entitled, Sixty: The Beginning of the End, or the End of the Beginning? A Diary of My Sixty-First Year (Penguin Random House). The title itself sounds characteristically self-deprecating — perhaps not surprising for any seasoned journalist in 2016. Fearing he’s “misplaced” the last 20 years of his life, Brown begins writing a diary in an attempt to embrace the next 20. He isn’t necessarily unhappy with how his life has played out — he is a successful journalist by anyone’s standards — but he grapples with how inconspicuously the last six decades slipped by. Brown provides both an intimate and humorous look at the aging process, in hopes it really is just “the End of the Beginning.”
Ian Brown is a journalist and author of five books. Currently, he hosts Human Edge and The View from Here on TVOntario. He is also a feature writer for The Globe and Mail. Brown has collected many National Magazine Awards over the years, most recently a Gold for “Man Vs. Behemoth,” his short feature published in Explore Magazine.
“Bad Singer” by Tim Falconer
If you’re into books like Daniel Levitan’s This Is Your Brain on Music or David Byrne’s How Music Works, Tim Falconer’s Bad Singer (House of Anansi) should logically be next on your reading list. Sure, it’s another look at music through a scientific lens, however, the latter takes a more personal approach, as Falconer himself suffers from amusia — the technical term for tone deafness, encompassing both pitch processing and musical memory. Weaving through the science behind singing, the limitations of the body and the trait of human persistence, Falconer is able to prevail, capturing the interest of any reader, simply by exploring a topic dear to so many.
Falconer’s book is based on his 2012 Maisonneuve piece “Face the Music,” that won him a Silver at the National Magazine Awards.
Falconer is the author of five books. Currently, he is a professor at Ryerson’s School of Journalism in Toronto, a mentor in the Creative Non-Fiction program at the University of King’s College in Halifax and an editor at the Literary Journalism program at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
Gray includes the obvious, from George-Étienne Cartier to Tommy Douglas to Emily Carr, but strays (somewhat) with a chapter on Elijah Harper, former Indigenous NDP MLA, and noted critic of the Meech Lake Accord. If history textbooks of our past didn’t suffice in the area of Indigenous peoples pasts, perhaps Gray’s account will follow the lead of Harper’s, that is, to bring the stories of our Indigenous people into mainstream conversation.
Gray has received eight honourable mentions at the NMAs, including a Chatelaineprofile of global activist Naomi Klein and a Walrus political piece on leader of the NDP, Thomas Mulcair.
Happy holiday reading from the National Magazine Awards.
Off the Page is a regular interview series featuring National Magazine Award winners. Recently we caught up with Richard Kelly Kemick, who was nominated for 2 National Magazine Awards in 2016–winning the Gold Medal in One of a Kind for his story “Playing God” (The Walrus), a reflection on his singular obsession with building Christmas villages. The story also won him a nomination for Canada’s Best New Magazine Writer.
NMAF: “Playing God,” your story thatwon Gold in the One of a Kind category at last year’s NMAs, was developed at the Banff Centre for Literary Journalism. Can you describe your experience there, and how this somewhat unconventional idea was developed into an award-winning magazine story.
Richard: During my month at the Banff Centre––as every tagline on their website attests––I worked alongside some of the best editors and writers in the business (Ian Brown, Victor Dwyer, Charlotte Gill, to say nothing of the exceptional participants I was writing alongside). What I wasn’t expecting, however, was how affirming it would be for me as a writer.
As I’m sure we all do, I wrestle a lot with insecurity and mediocrity. Banff’s LJ program placed me an environment where I had a month to only write, read, and sit in Michael Lista’s room to watch The Bachelor (he forced us to watch, like, every episode with him). It was an environment which told me––day after day for a month––that as long as I’m writing, I am a writer.
Anytime I get an opportunity to work with an editor, it’s an absolute privilege. The “Playing God” piece was edited, edited, kicked around, and edited again. And while I came to develop a profound hate for the Track Changes bubbles on a word document, my editor, Victor, took the piece from the ramblings of a limp-wristed despot into something with form, narrative, and an actual arc.
NMAF: More recently, your debut collection of poetry, Caribou Run was included in this year’s CBC must-read poetry list. How is recognition — from the NMAF and other organizations — significant to you and your work?
Richard: The CBC list was bizarre. I had no warning; I received an email from my publisher with the link and a note saying “this better translate into book sales” (just kidding, they’re incredibly supportive). It was a very rewarding surprise, just like the NMA.
These types of recognition are indeed significant. So much of what we do as writers is sit at a desk and clack away in an isolation the rest of the world would refer to as cruel and unusual punishment. (If you’re lucky, you’ll have a dog to aid you through this.) Any recognition that someone has actually read your work and––god forbid––actually enjoyed it is inexpressibly quenching.
On the other hand, however, I don’t want to think that recognition objectively signifies quality. There were poetry collections which were far stronger than mine but not included on the CBC list. Same goes for the NMA. A writer once told me that saying you “deserved” to win an award is like saying you “deserved” to win the lottery because you played the numbers well. (That writer was Michael Lista and it was on a commercial break of The Bachelor.)
Rewards are fantastic; anybody who says otherwise is either lying or Buddha. But it’s boom/bust. I was on the boom for a bit. Now is the bust. And I’m finding it hard not to become petty, jealous, and focused on recognition instead of the writing. But I’m trying to work against that, work through it. Because I think there is a name for writers, and the writing they produce, who are like that: fucked.
NMAF: Robert Moore, English professor at the University of New Brunswick, recently wrote apiecefor The Walrus questioning the future of poetry as an art form. In Adam Kirsch’sreviewof The Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner, he claims poetry is “the site and source of disappointed hope.” He adds acclaimed poet Marianne Moore’s famous line “I, too, dislike it,” in reference to the craft. You’ve just published your first collection. What inspires you to write poetry?
Richard: As a poet, the perpetual death of poetry is my favourite topic. Yes, poetry now panhandles in the literary ghetto––neighbouring junk mail and the academic essay. Yes, poems gather more dust than acclaim. Yes, when I write “Poet” on credit card applications I all but assure rejection.
I think, however, that this apocalyptic setting is what enables Canadian poetry to be so exciting right now. We have an environment which produces writing, not writers. The pinnacle of this is when writers have brilliant collections (Michael Prior’s Model Disciple, anyone?) without floating off into the ether of poisonous pomp. Because the stakes are hedged, there is a democratizing force in contemporary Canadian poetry, a force which I’m not sure exists in any other commercial genre, a force in which free-verse upstarts and seasoned sonneteers are working within the same circles. Yes, there are politics within the CanPoetry community––just like anywhere. But at least we have the decency to wage our wars in divisive Facebook threads, rather than at the Giller’s or, for example, in a wildly offensive open letter.
I started writing poetry (and still do) because I wanted to be a better writer. Poetry––for my money––is the genre that best develops your craft. The attention to language is merciless, and if you can make fourteen lines of ten syllables each tell a story, think of what you can do with some elbow room!
NMAF: Much of your work centres around animals. How does your love for animals influence your writing, and what inspired the theme of caribou migration in your latest collection?
Richard: I write about animals because I’m unable to convey actual human emotion. Animals provide a healthy alternative. Like, if you’ve got a character that is unlovable but you want to make him lovable but you don’t know how–give him a dog. Then name that dog Maisy. Then let Maisy fool a woman, preferably a public school teacher because of the job security, into a long-term relationship. Then feel safe and loved and statistically unlikely to now die alone as you work on your poems all day, drinking coffee from small cups as your wife toils in a grade one classroom, with Maisy curled at your feet.
The caribou idea was just that I thought the migration was pretty rad and already had poetic elements within it. Four years later (which is about a third of a male caribou’s life), a book! Aim for the stars, kids.
NMAF: Your writing ranges from fiction to nonfiction, poetry to prose — do you have a favourite form? And, if you can tell us, what can we expect to see from you next?
Richard: I don’t have a favourite form. I consider forms like my children: they all disappoint me for different reasons.
I’ve currently got a collection of non-fiction essays (one of which is the piece that won the NMA) under consideration. I’ve also got a collection of short stories that was turned down for publication, but I’ve since been working on it and hope to submit again soon.
I’m trying to view rejection as an opportunity for me to make the work better. In five, twenty, or a hundred years (I plan to live forever), I know I won’t mind having been delayed in publishing a collection of short stories, but I will mind if those stories are shitty. I’m not saying that every rejection a publisher makes is sound; but in this individual case, the rejection has given me the clarity to realize that I can make the stories stronger and (after I’d cried myself dry and drank myself wet) I’m trying to do that.
Richard Kelly Kemick is a National Magazine Award-winning writer whose work has been published in The Walrus, The Fiddlehead, Maisonneuve and Tin House. His debut collection of poetry, Caribou Run,(2016, Goose Lane Editions) follows the Porcupine caribou herd through their annual migration, the largest overland migration in the world. Caribou Run was included as a one of CBC’s fifteen must-read poetry collections. Follow him on Twitter @RichardKemick.
Special thanks to Krista Robinson for her reporting on this interview with Richard.
Here at the National Magazine Awards we’re humbled to see so many familiar names in line for some of Canada’s most notable literary awards.
Earlier this month, the Governor General’s Literary Awards shortlist was announced, with four former National Magazine Award winners and nominees in the running for one of the country’s most prestigious prizes. They join fellow Canadian authors and poets on the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Writers’ Trust Award shortlists — both of which also boast great work by recent NMA honourees.
Mona Awad has come a long way from her two-week stint on the then-famed Beverly Hills Diet in 1988, at age nine. Her raw depiction of the commonplace pursuit of slenderness, in 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl (Penguin Canada), was shortlisted for the Giller Prize last month. The compilation of short stories follows the tribulations of a young Mississauga girl, struggling with her appearance and self-worth, into womanhood. Back in 2005, Awad’s Maisonneuve piece, “The Shrinking Woman” — which shared a common theme with 13 Ways — was a finalist for a National Magazine Award. The essay ushered the reader through Awad’s journey of growing up with a mother who, despite loving and supportive, couldn’t shield her daughter from an addiction to dieting and weight loss.
“Later on I’m going to be really…beautiful. I’m going to grow into that nose and develop an eating disorder. I’ll be hungry and angry all my life but I’ll also have a hell of a time.” — Mona Awad, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl
Awad has written for numerous publications including McSweeney’s, The Walrus, and Joyland, among others.
Gary Barwin is a Canadian poet, composer and professor at York University. In 2015, his poem Winter, published on Hazlitt was a finalist in the poetry category at this year’s NMAs. His most recent novel, Yiddish for Pirates (Random House Canada), has been shortlisted for both the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award. From the point-of-view of a 500-year-old parrot, the story takes a humorous yet philosophical tone in telling the tale of Moishe, a young Jewish vagabond eager to escape to the sea. S. Bear Bergman, in the Globe and Mail’s Book Review, sang its praises, emphasizing Barwin’s unique and often hilarious use of language(s).
“A boychik with big ideas, his kop—his head—bigger than his body. He would travel beyond the scrawny map of himself, and beyond the shtetl. He’d travel the ocean.There were Jews—he’d heard stories—that were something. Not rag-and-bones shmatte-men like his father, Chaim, always following the dreck of their nag around the same small world. Doctors. Court astronomers. Spanish lords. Tax farmers. Learned men of the world. The mapmakers of Majorca. They were Jews.” — Gary Barwin, Yiddish for Pirates
Barwin has written over a dozen books, including writing for children and young adults as well as poetry compilations.
Kerry-Lee Powell got nods from the three big literary awards this year for her debut collection of short stories, Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush (Harper Avenue/Harper Collins). The east coast poet was longlisted for the Giller Prize and shortlisted for both the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction and GG’s Fiction awards. Back in 2011, Powell was a finalist at the NMAs for two poems, “The Lifeboat” and “The Emperor.” The poems — scrawled down one night in a harrowing stupor — were in response to her father’s post-WWII PTSD and ultimate suicide, and her own struggles with mental illness.
“One of the after-effects of working in a busy bar is that you never really leave. It could be four o’clock on a Sunday morning. The pigeons are ruffling their oily feathers on the windowsill and the bedroom pales to a washed indigo as you launch into the slow drift towards oblivion. But it’s no use. The insides of your eyelids burn with visions of Saturday night. It’s a scene from the Inferno. Red shapes beckon and bang their glasses on the bar. They reel into shadows and surge forward again, a many-headed monster throwing punches in the air. The only thing is to wait for them to disappear. Except they never do.” — Kerry Lee Powell, Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush
In addition to her debut collection of shorts, Powell has also written two poetry collections, Inheritance and The Wreckage.
Michael Helm’s apocalyptic fourth book, After James (McClelland & Stewart), is on the shortlist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Award. The collection of novellas, with three intertwining settings, characters and plots, has been called “genre-defying.” Perhaps a not so surprising feat for Helm, who has served as an editor and contributor for Brick, the beloved Toronto-based literary journal, for over a decade. In 2014, Helm earned a NMA honourable mention for his tribute to esteemed Montreal writer Mavis Gallant. Helm’s short feature — published in Brick (93) — was deeply thoughtful. The reader, regardless of affiliation with Gallant, soon becomes mourner, naturally reflecting on lost loves — literary or otherwise.
“And then, a last idea, one she couldn’t suppress. It was that she was still inside the cave. She had fallen out of time, even as she descended through the woods as present in the world as she always had been. In thought, memory, body, she was nearly exactly herself. The feeling began to fade, to seem fanciful, at lower altitude, as her blood became better oxygenated, but she understood that it would never entirely leave her. It was somehow familiar, the idea that she was two places at once, or one place in two overlapping times. She must have read it in a junk novel, seen it in movies, things that everyone consumed without really remembering and that she found it harder and harder even to pretend to believe. — Michael Helm, After James
Helm’s past bibliography includes: Cities of Refuge (2010), In the Place of Last Things (2004) and The Projectionist (1997).
Steven Heighton has been on our radar at the NMA’s since the late ‘80s when he was first nominated for his poem “Approaches to Lhasa” in The New Quarterly. Now a five-time NMA winner, Heighton holds four gold awards and one silver for both his poetry and fiction, published in the likes of Arc Poetry Magazine, The Fiddlehead, Prism International and The Walrus. His newest collection, The Waking Comes Late (House of Anansi Press), has been shortlisted for the GG Poetry Awards. This much anticipated collection, by critics and fans alike, touches on the themes of contemporary life and death, and what a seemingly troublesome future might hold for us all.
Steven Heighton has written numerous short stories, essays, poetry and novels over the course of his career. He has won or been nominated for over a dozen literary awards.
Rachel Rose was nominated for her first NMA in 2015 for “Three Poems,” published in Fiddlehead. Her fourth collection of poetry, Marry & Burn (Harbour), has been shortlisted for the GG Poetry Award. The poems, all revolving around themes of love and loss (of people and dogs), evoke a correspondingly sad and familiar fond feeling in the reader. In Rose’s newest collection, she explores similar themes with new subject matters, including the devastation of losing a beehive in our current climate, to Canadian racism and the mistreatment of our First Nations.
Rose has won awards for her poetry, fiction and nonfiction works. Her chapbook, Thirteen Ways of Looking at CanLit, was published last year by Toronto-based publisher BookThug.
The GG Literary Award presents $25,000 each to both an English and French finalist. Check the GG’s website on October 25 when the winner will be announced.
The Writers’ Trust Awards, comprised of different categories, with awards funded by various sponsors, will be announced at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto on November 2.
The Scotiabank Giller Prize winner will be awarded $100,000, while finalists walk away with $10,000. You can watch the live stream of the event at CBC Books on November 7.
Read and download hundreds of great short fiction stories and poetry in the National Magazine Awards archive, at magazine-awards.com/archive.
Special thanks to Krista Robinson for contributing to this article.
Canada’s largest magazine & book festival – Word on the Street– is coming to four 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 an exciting stack of new reads.
Halifax– Saturday, September 17, Halifax Central Library
Saskatoon– Sunday, September 18, Exhibitor Marketplace
Toronto– Sunday, September 25, Harbourfront Centre
Here are some of the events and speakers at Toronto’s Word On The Street we’re looking forward to, featuring NMA winners:
Lauren McKeon, 2-time NMA winner and editor of THIS Magazine (now celebrating its 50th anniversary year) leads a discussion with panelists: NMA winner Daniel Viola (Maisonneuve), Sheila Sampath (Shameless Magazine), Priya Ramanujan (Urbanology), and Shawn Micallef (Spacing) on why independent media is now more important than ever, and what role this form of journalism will play in the next fifty years. The hour-long discussion starts at 3:15 at the Canadian Magazines Stage.
Randi Bergman, 2-time NMA winner, chats with Corduroy Magazine editor-in-chief Tim Chan and 7-time NMA winner Tanya Watt about what is and what isn’t Canadian fashion, with examples of designers and companies across the country at 4:15 at the Canadian Magazines Stage.
Emily Donaldson, editor-in-chief of NMA-winning publication CNQ: Canadian Notes & Queries, joins Brick editor, Laurie D. Graham, and Nailah King in a showcase discussion of Canadian literary journals and magazines at 12:45 at the Canadian Magazines Stand.
NMA Gold winner in Poetry, George Elliott Clarke, is participating in the Diaspora Dialogues panel which will explore how to write about Toronto in the future at 3:00 at the Toronto Book Awards Tent.
NMA winners speaking at the Nothing But The Truth Tent, hosted by Sue Carter, editor at Quill & Quire andarts & ideas editor at THIS Magazine.
Craig Davidson, 2-time NMA winner, talks about his new book “Precious Cargo: My Year Driving the Kids on School Bus 3077”. Starts at 12:15.
Diane Schoemperlen, silver NMA-winner for Fiction, talks about her new book “This is Not My Life”. Starts at 4:15.
Sandra Martin, 2-time NMA winner, discusses her book “A Good Death”. Starts at 5:15.
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]
Did you win a National Magazine Award at this year’s gala? Were you a nominee? If so, we’ve created a guide just for you.
The NMAF is pleased to introduce the first volume of our Best Practices Guide. This guide is an extensive resource for how National Magazine Award winners and nominees can best leverage their recognition of magazine excellence.
The guide provides detailed promotional strategies, insightful personal testimony and plenty of other useful resources to help award winners and nominees best leverage and optimize their National Magazine Awards.
On November 25, 2015, the National Magazine Awards Foundation presented Winners’ Circle, an exclusive learning and networking event. More than 70 NMA winners and nominees gathered at The Spoke Club in Toronto’s King West district to meet, mingle, network and learn about how a National Magazine Award can be a boost to your career.
In addition to our Best Practices Guide, the NMAF has created this webinar to uncover other effective ways to leverage and optimize your National Magazine Award win. In a discussion led by D.B. Scott, three NMA winners–Penny Caldwell of Cottage Life, Matthew Blackett of Spacing and Katherine Laidlaw of The Walrus–share their best practices on how they leveraged their recognition of winning a National Magazine Award.
Please stay tuned for when we announce our next Winners’ Circle event.
Download this year’s National Magazine Awards Winners’ Seals here.
The National Magazine Awards Foundation is all about celebrating Canadian creators and storytellers. Our mission is to recognize excellence in magazine writing and art production.
At the NMAF we tip our hats to the storytellers who skilfully fill the pages of Canadian magazines. To highlight the hard work and meticulous crafting that goes into creating an NMA-winning piece we’ve produced a portrait series of this year’s winners and nominees, discussing what makes for great storytelling.
“The key to great storytelling is respect for the person whose story it is that and a willingness to develop that trust with them as well as a recognition of the responsibility that you carry as a storyteller. Good storytelling is a way for us to connect to somebody else’s reality. It can capture us in reflecting on an experience we thought was unique to us and that we discover is universal.”
“I really appreciate development of plot at delayed intervals, when the writer can suspend action, but still keep interest in the development of the story. I find that fascinating. That works really well to keep the reader attached to the story as it unfolds.”
“A great story is when I have a lot of different kinds of information coming to me, so I have the person telling me what they remember or what they went through or what they think and I also have documentary evidence, so I see medical records or I see emails from the time or contracts or documents or official letters. I like the detail.”
“If you do a good job in the investigation, the story almost tells itself and so you have a sense of story while you’re doing the investigation. I think another thing, too, that makes for a good and important story is finding people who normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to speak.”
“Storytelling is uncovering stories that haven’t been told or finding a new way to tell those stories. In our world, we write a lot about inanimate objects, buildings and bridges, so we rely on good storytelling, simply because we’re not writing about people. We’re writing about things that have been around for 100 years, so it’s about getting that hook in there and getting that hook in there early.”
From left to right: Haley Cullingham, former Editor-in-Chief; Jennifer Varkonyi, Publisher; Anna Minzhulina, Art Director; Daniel Viola, Editor-in-Chief. Daniel Viola (right), Editor-in-Chief: “For me (scenes are) what separates what’s going to be a good story from a great story and a really great story, because that’s what’s interesting – people are interesting, events are interesting. You need to be able to have both the ebbs and the flows of the story, great scenes, research to back it up, all of the context needed, but it’s knowing the role of all these different elements of storytelling and how you put them all together to make an 800-word story or a 2, 000-word story and how you adapt to the length that there is.” Anna Minzhulina (seated), Art Director: “I think that art and the words, they should exist together, but at the same time they should exist separately and individually as well. It’s not necessarily that art should be an illustration of what the story is word-by-word, but it should be an interpretation, not a narration.”
“I think that’s the key to any good storytelling is the listening part, so you need to hear what they have to say and take the time to consider it and string it together. The best part is to have many different voices to make sort-of a tapestry of voices. I think that’s the key to storytelling.”
“I think an underdog makes a great story, because cheering for somebody that you know is going to win is not interesting and exciting. What’s gripping about storytelling is the unexpected and I think most of the time the unexpected is when somebody who doesn’t win, somebody who doesn’t get to talk, somebody who gets ignored finally gets that chance to talk, to win, to say something.”
“It’s through the language of emotion and how we connect as humans that you can tell stories through photography. I think I’m always trying to dig deeper into that level of what people are feeling and where they’re at, at that moment. It’s from being there and immersing yourself in the story that you start to recognize those moments that tell it because you’re side by side with the people who are experiencing it.”
“A great story is when someone, through their artistic intelligence, creates a beautiful shape out of hours or weeks or months or years of total chaos.”
“It all starts with a recipe. The recipes that are in the magazine that are on the cooking show and all of the stuff that you need to make those recipes is available in the store. You walk through the store, you can buy everything that you see on the show, in the magazine; you walk into the restaurant, you will be served the food that is in the magazines, on the TV show – it’s just this symbiotic universe.”
“We try to be indispensable to our readers with our service journalism and we try to be very relevant through our other stories, and just give them a great read, where they sit down and it puts them in the moment. It makes them feel like they recognize that moment and they’re there.”
“(The key to great storytelling is) timelessness! A story that transcends time, that can be told today that’s pertinent to today and that people know that it happened in this era, or you can tell it 20 years from now and people can still glean universal truth from it.”
“You need tension to make it an interesting story. (The most important thing when writing profiles) is that there are as many levels as possible within that person, from public persona to inner struggles. No one’s a simple story and so what you have to do is create that trust so that people will bare those levels of tension and it’s a gift when someone does that with you.”
To learn more about the award winners and nominees from the 2016 awards program, please visit magazine-awards.com. You can also follow this photo series on Instagram (nationalmagazineawards) or by following us on Twitter @MagAwards.
Credit: photos taken by Steve Goetz; interviews conducted by Melissa Myers.