Best New Magazine Writer: Nominees for the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards

The nominees for the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards have been announced, and we are excited to welcome Canada’s best writers, artists, editors, art directors, and more to the gala on May 26. [Tickets]

Among the most coveted and special of the National Magazine Awards is Best New Magazine Writer. Each year our judges are tasked with choosing from an astounding array of passionate and intelligent creators carving their way into a rewarding career. The winner will be announced on May 26 receives a cash prize of $1000.

We are proud to continue recognizing excellence by Canadian magazine writers. Here are the nominees for Best New Magazine Writer:

Amorina Kingdon

The Questionable Science of Vancouver’s Port Expansion
Hakai Magazine

The Western Sandpiper migrates thousands of kilometres each year, from the Arctic to Mexico, stopping on its northward journey to feed on biofilm at Roberts Bank—an area of Vancouver’s Deltaport. Unfortunately for the small snowbirds, the port is prime real estate for developers and a proposed expansion could prove catastrophic for their survival. It would also make the port one of the busiest shipping container hubs in North America. Hakai’s Amorina Kingdon digs past the politics and gets into the science behind the move that could have “species-level consequences.”

Biologist Robert Elner, scientist emeritus at Environment and Climate Change Canada, remarked by email to Kingdon: “you have penned an accurate, important, and powerful interpretation of a complex saga and set a new benchmark.”
Jude Isabella, editor-in-chief of Hakai Magazine

Amorina Kingdon has worked as the associate editor at Hakai since its inception in early 2015. Prior to her relocation to the West Coast, she studied biology and journalism at Concordia, and worked as a science writer and media officer in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal.
@AmorinaKingdon


Eternity Martis

Know Your History, Know Your Greatness
Hazlitt

Eternity Martis knows that the history of black people in Canada isn’t being taught in Ontario public schools. Even when it is mentioned, the focus is on important American figures— as black history tends to be excluded from Canadian History, and teachers naturally struggle to implement curricula they were seldom taught. So what happens when the descendants running these sites die or retire? Martis, through an enormous amount of research, is able to contextualize the importance of saving these historical sites and keeping their legacy alive.

At a time when journalists are more important than ever, Martis is creating work that Canadians need: urgent, well-crafted, rigorous journalism about the issues that matter most.
Haley Cullingham, Hazlitt senior editor

Eternity Martis studied journalism at Ryerson University and Women’s Studies and Literature at Western in London, Ont. Including freelancing for Hazlitt, Martis has contributed to many Canadian publications including Vice, Huffington Post, and The Fader. Last year she worked as a multimedia editor at The Ryerson Review, and she is currently an associate editor at Daily Xtra in Toronto.
@EternityMartis

 


Kyle Edwards

Yearning to Learn Ojibwe
Maclean’s

Kyle Edwards is a 22-year old Anishinaabe from Lake Manitoba First Nation. Though he grew up on his grandparent’s reserve, Edwards never learned to speak Ojibwe, his family’s native language. In his first Maclean’s feature, he chronicles an excursion to Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute where he attended an Ojibwe immersion class. Readers are fortunate to get an intimate glimpse into the writer’s struggle with his sense of identity. Now, along with bringing awareness to Indigenous issues in Canada through storytelling, Kyle is working to implement Aboriginal language curriculum into post-secondary institutions— all the while endeavouring to learn his language.

“Yearning to Learn Ojibwe” is an important story—fusing the alarm of losing Indigenous languages altogether with a personal struggle to learn one Indigenous language and keep it alive—that needs to be told and read.
Bill Reynolds, Ryerson University School of Journalism

Kyle Edwards is a multimedia journalist based in Toronto. He’s currently completing his journalism degree at Ryerson University. He is also a policy researcher with The Chiefs of Ontario.
@kylejeddie


Sharon J. Riley

Burning Bush
Maisonneuve

Terry Keogh and his family were forced to flee their dream home in Rock Creek B.C. as precarious flames flared in the near distance. This is where Riley began her investigation; seeking an explanation to the thousands of fires that rage through the country’s forests each year—a number that’s nearly double the ten-year average. The B.C. government claims that the vast majority of forest fires are put out within a 24-hour period, but as Riley reports, it might be that rigorousness that’s causing them in the first place. 

Sharon J. Riley brings panache and lyricism to a timely, necessary story… “Burning Bush” combines in-depth interviews and investigative research with fine, elegant writing. In other words, it is the epitome of what readers want from a long-form feature story.
Andrea Bennett, Maisonneuve editor-in-chief

Sharon J. Riley grew up on a goat farm in rural Alberta. When she’s not freelance researching, writing or fact-checking, you can find her guiding hikers through the Canadian rockies. Along with contributing to Harper’s Weekly Review, Riley has written for Vice, The Walrus, and The Tyee. “Burning Bush” was her first piece for Maisonneuve, Canada’s 2016 Magazine of the Year.
@sharonjriley


Viviane Fairbank

Hot Mess
Ryerson Review of Journalism

The Press Gallery journalists at Parliament Hill got an unexpected visitor when Viviane Fairbank began her coverage. After reading about a parliamentary journalist accepting a sum of money from a senator for “ridding [his] Wikipedia page of the work of rancorous internet trolls,” Fairbank turned her hunch into a long-form feature on the unruly culture of Ottawa’s Parliamentary Press Gallery. “It’s a culture of hardworking journalists,” she writes in “Hot Mess,” “but, for some, it’s also one of ethical atrophy and notorious infighting.”

The fact that a couple of freelance journalists warned her to “lawyer up” is a testament to her honesty and bravery in reporting the story. (And no, they didn’t sue.)
Bill Reynolds, Ryerson University School of Journalism

Viviane Fairbank is a fact-checker, writer, and editor, currently working as an assistant editor at The Walrus. She has a bachelor of journalism from Ryerson University, and served as senior editor at the Ryerson Review of Journalism. She has also worked for Harper’s, NPR, Toronto Life, Smithsonian and Today’s Parent.
@vivianefairbank


The winner of the National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer will be announced on May 26 at the 40th anniversary NMA Gala in Toronto. The award includes a cash prize of $1000.
Tickets are on sale now.

Check out all the nominees for the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards.

Follow us on Twitter @MagAwards for all the nominations news and an awesome live feed on the night of the gala. #NMA40

Announcing the nominees for the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards

The NMAF is excited to announce the nominees for the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards, including five finalists for the prestigious Magazine of the Year Award.

Nominations Website
Nominations List (PDF)
Gala Info & Tickets
Version française

This year, 197 Canadian magazines from coast to coast to coast—English and French, print and digital—entered the best of their editorial and design work to the National Magazine Awards, submitting the work of more than 2000 writers, editors, photographers, illustrators, art directors and other creators.

The NMAF’s 112 volunteer judges have nominated a total of 202 submissions from 75 different Canadian magazines for awards in 25 written, visual, integrated and special categories.

“We’re thrilled to announce the nominees for the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards. More than 200 Canadian creators—writers, photographers, illustrators, designers, poets, and more—are up for awards in 25 categories. My thanks to our judges who have done a rigorous job over the past few months evaluating the best work in the country. It’s been a significant year for Canadian storytelling, as the impressive caliber of the nominees attests. We’re looking forward to celebrating the best of Canada’s creative talent together at the Gala on May 26.”
Nino Di Cara, President, NMAF

Gold, Silver and Honourable Mention awards will be announced at the Arcadian Court in Toronto on May 26, at the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala. Gold Awards in Writing and Visual categories include a cash prize of $1000.

Tickets are on sale now. A limited number of tickets for nominated freelancers will be available at the discount rate of $35, thanks to the support of our Table Patrons.

TOP NOMINATED CREATORS

  • Edmonton freelance writer Omar Mouallem leads all creators with 4 nominations for 4 different stories published in 4 magazines (Avenue, Hazlitt, Sharp, University Affairs).
  • Writer Richard Kelly Kemick is nominated 3 times—twice in Fiction and once in One of Kind, which he won last year—for stories in 3 magazines (Geist, Maisonneuve, The New Quarterly).
  • Quebec writer Catherine Perreault-Lessard is also nominated 3 times for 3 stories published in Châtelaine, L’actualité and Ricardo.
  • Maclean’s writer Nancy Macdonald is also nominated 3 times for 2 different stories.
  • The Walrus writer/editor Katherine Laidlaw is nominated twice as a writer, and she is also the handling editor on 6 other Walrus stories nominated for National Magazine Awards.
  • Other writers nominated twice include Bruce Livesey (Report on Business), Jason McBride (Canadian Art, Toronto Life), Mark Pupo (Toronto Life), and Naël Shiab (L’actualité).
  • Illustrators Byron Eggenschwiler (Vancouver Magazine) and Gérard DuBois (L’actualité) are each nominated twice.
  • Photographers Peter Ash Lee (Corduroy), Chris Nicholls (FASHION Magazine) and Virginia Macdonald (Air Canada enRoute) are each nominated twice.

Check out all the nominees on our special anniversary website or download the PDF.

MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR

The five finalists for Magazine of the Year—given to the magazine that most consistently engages, surprises, and serves the needs of its readers—are:

  • Cottage Life, published by Blue Ant Media
  • Explore, published by My Passion Media
  • Nouveau Projet, published by Atelier 10
  • Ricardo, published by Ricardo Media
  • The Kit Compact, published by Star Media Group

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BEST NEW MAGAZINE WRITER

The five finalists for Best New Magazine Writer—given to the individual whose early work in magazines shows the highest degree of craft and promise—are:

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TOP STORIES OF 2016

The 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards honour the best in Canadian magazine journalism from 2016. Some of the most frequent topics that our judges saw among this year’s entries include:

Among this year’s nominees, some of the top stories include:

  • Justice Is Not Blind” (Maclean’s)—a nine-month investigation by Nancy Macdonald and the Maclean’s team looking at the ways in which Canada’s justice system is biased against Indigenous people. Nominated in Longform Feature Writing and Investigative Reporting.
    .
  • Company Province, Provincial Company” (Report on Business)—journalist Bruce Livesey’s investigative profile of the Irving family and the politics of New Brunswick’s energy sector. Nominated in Longform Feature Writing and Investigative Reporting.
    .
  • The Fighter” (United Church Observer)—a stirring portrait of Willie Blackwater, a B.C. Indigenous man who survived a residential school and then led the fight for justice, written by journalist Richard Wright. Nominated in Longform Feature Writing and Profiles.
    .
  • Love Your Body” (NOW Magazine)—a series of bold photographs by Tanja-Tiziana accompanying a set of profiles on the issue of body shaming. Nominated in Portrait Photography and Best Words & Pictures.
    .
  • Whatever Happened to Michael Bryant?” (Precedent)—writer Daniel Fish investigates the life and times of the former Ontario Attorney General, whose involvement in the killing of a cyclist led to PTSD, years out of the spotlight, and finally a path to redemption. Nominated in Professional Article and Profiles.
    .
  • Canada’s Best New Restaurants” (Air Canada enRoute)—the annual guide to Canadian culinary innovation by Andrew Braithwaite and the enRoute team is nominated in Service Journalism and Best Editorial Package.
    .
  • Shocking Tax Tips You’re Missing Out On!” (MoneySense)—the annual tax guide by Bryan Borzykowski and the MoneySense team is nominated in Service Journalism and Best Service Editorial Package.

TOP NOMINATED MAGAZINES

FIRST-TIME NOMINEES

Magazines nominated for their first National Magazine Award include:

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The NMAF gratefully acknowledges the support of the Government of Canada, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Ontario Media Development Corporation. We are also thankful for the support of Access Copyright, Alberta Magazine Publishers Association, Bookmark, Canadian Media Guild, Canadian Writers Group, CNW, ExpertWomen.ca, Goetz Storytelling, Impresa Communications, Rolland Enterprises, Studio Wyse, TC Transcontinental Printing, and Very Good Studios.

For sponsorship enquiries please contact NMAF Managing Director Barbara Gould at staff@magazine-awards.com.

GALA TICKETS

The NMAF will welcome Canada’s top writers, artists, editors, art directors, publishers and other creators to the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala. Gold, Silver and Honourable Mention awards will be announced at the Arcadian Court in Toronto on May 26. Tickets are on sale at magazine-awards.com.

A limited number of tickets for nominated freelancers will be available at the discount rate of $35, thanks to the support of our Table Patrons, including Access Copyright, Bookmark, Alberta Magazine Publishers Association, Canadian Media Guild, Canadian Writers Group, CDS Global, and ExploreWomen.ca.

Gold winners in Writing and Visual Awards categories receive a cash prize of $1000. Silver winners receive an awards certificate. All other finalists receive Honourable Mention.

CREDIT CHANGES

The deadline to make any changes to nominations credit is Friday April 28. Email staff@magazine-awards.com to make any credit changes to your nomination.

Download the complete list of nominations (PDF) to check your nominations credit.

ABOUT THE NMAF

A charitable foundation, the NMAF’s mandate is to recognize and promote excellence in content creation of Canadian print and digital publications through an annual program of awards and national publicity efforts.

The Foundation produces two distinct and bilingual award programs: the National Magazine Awards and the Digital Publishing Awards. Throughout the year, the Foundation undertakes various group marketing initiatives and professional development events.

Nominations Website
Nominations List (PDF)
Gala Info & Tickets
Version française

CBC documentary based on Desmond Cole’s National Magazine Award-winning story

Desmond Cole accepts the award for Best New Magazine Writer to a standing ovation at the 2016 National Magazine Awards in Toronto (Photo: Steven Goetz / National Magazine Awards Foundation)

In 2015 Desmond Cole’s essay “The Skin I’m In” (published in Toronto Life) made headlines across the country and became a touchstone for contemporary debates about race relations, privilege and law enforcement policy in Canada. Desmond Cole admitted to readers, “I was nine years old the first time I got stopped by police. Since then, I’ve been interrogated more than 50 times— all because of the colour of my skin.”

At the 2016 National Magazine Awards, Desmond Cole’s story won 3 awards–for Personal Journalism, Essays, and Best New Magazine Writer.

In an intimate portrait of systemic discrimination and how it erodes one’s sense of self, Cole has written in “The Skin I’m In” a powerful exposé of Canada’s justice system with clarity and integrity, holding up a mirror to readers of any ethnicity and making them rue what they see.
– National Magazine Awards jury

Since then, he’s become a columnist for the Toronto Star, a spokesperson for Black Lives Matter and other organizations challenging police practices in Toronto, and has appeared on panels for the CBC, the Canadian Journalism Foundation, Global News, and more. His work also appears in the The Walrus, Torontoist, VICE, NOW Magazine, and Ethnic Aisle.

Tonight, the CBC airs its documentary based on Desmond’s National Magazine Award-winning story–“The Skin We’re In“–at 9pm.

For the film version of The Skin We’re In, the perspective shifts — but the intimacy of Cole’s work is not lost. His journalism is marked by his unapologetic connection to many of his subjects, which is captured poignantly throughout the film.

Click here to watch the trailer of “The Skin We’re In”

Off the Page, with Marta Iwanek

Off the Page is a regular interview series featuring National Magazine Award winners. Recently we caught up with photojournalist Marta Iwanek, who in 2016 was named Canada’s Best New Magazine Photographer from the National Magazine Awards Foundation, in addition to winning the Gold Medal for Photojournalism & Photo Essay for her incredible reporting of the 2013-2014 Ukrainian crisis, titled “The Maidan” (Maisonneuve).

NMAF: In your award-winning photo essay, “The Maidan,” you take the reader on a journey to a winter in Kyiv, where thousands of Ukrainians gathered to take a courageous stand against their government. You capture the Maidan as a place of fear and uncertainty, but also of community and solidarity. How did you get a sense of the place when you arrived, and what were the human emotions that spoke to you as a photographer?

Marta: I first arrived in Kyiv in early November (2013) before any of the protests had started. I remember driving through the centre of the city and thinking what a bustling metropolis it was. Then I went out east to work on a film and returned in late November a little after the pro-European protests had begun. Everything was still calm at that point and there was a sense of hopefulness among the crowd.

The protest was to last nine days, but on the last night everything changed. The remaining protestors were chased out of Independence Square (Maidan) and beaten by police, angering many people. On December 1 a large demonstration occurred in Kyiv where the people re-took the square and the movement that became known as “the Maidan” began. I was supposed to fly back to Toronto shortly after, but realized I couldn’t leave.

The feeling was so powerful and strong among the people. It felt like people had been pushed to an edge and they had nothing more to lose. There were feelings of frustration, abandonment and urgency. At the same time, you could still find the glimpses of hope and community as people unified under one cause–to oust then President Yanukovych. I was always trying to show those emotions in my photos and trying to understand the situation deeper, trying to figure out what made it this way? I changed my flight and ended up staying three months, living among the protestors and spending my days and nights wandering the square, talking to people and trying to make sense of it.

I like to immerse myself in stories as much as possible and I hope this translates in my photos. It was also a story I felt personally connected to because my roots are Ukrainian and I grew up in the Ukrainian diaspora in Toronto. I grew up listening to the stories of Ukraine’s constant struggle for independence and to be free of corruption, so the feelings of the people in the square were not foreign to me. However, this time, it wasn’t just my parents talking about it in Canada, detached from the situation and it’s consequences. It was happening in front of me. When it was finally time to leave, I will always remember that contrast I felt when I first arrived in the capital and when I left–the place, the people and the country had been changed forever.

During my years as the art director of Maisonneuve magazine, I had the opportunity to work with many talented women photographers—each one a unique visual voice. Marta Iwanek stands out for the way she brings her compassion to a body of work that sits on the edge of war and peace, among fire and smoke, between life and death situations, especially with her Ukrainian “Maidan” project.
Anna Minzhulina, former art director, Maisonneuve

NMAF: Over one hundred people were killed in the government reprisals, and you spent time not only on the front lines but also with those who were wounded and grieving. How did you balance your own safety with your passion for capturing every aspect of the story? And did you learn anything about yourself as a journalist that will assist you in the future?

Marta: There were certain days that felt very unsafe on the square, but the majority of my time spent there, things were peaceful. There would be flare-ups between police and protestors and then things would resume back to “normal.” I looked to other, more experienced photojournalists in the square for guidance and advice. I had only been freelancing for three months at that point, fresh out of college and had found myself in the middle of the news cauldron that was Kyiv.

There were many times that I was scared. Even today I think I still would be. The most important thing I learned in those kinds of situations is to trust your gut. There were certain situations I decided to be close-up and others I held back from. Sometimes, I beat myself up for not being in the right place or holding back too much, but you have to be honest with yourself and with what you’re willing to do. It took quite a while to reconcile these feelings, but the experience taught me that I’m not a conflict photographer.

Many photojournalists starting out often have a dream of covering foreign stories and conflicts. I didn’t go to Ukraine searching out a conflict to photograph, I just happened to be there when it all started. And a part of me left feeling like I had failed as a journalist because I hadn’t gotten the most heated moments, and I was actually back in Canada on the day that over a hundred protestors were shot. For me, it was more emotionally heavy to be away from the square during that time than when I was in it. Not knowing about the fate of many friends who were there, as well as feeling the guilt of not being there, took a toll.

We’re taught to want to be this travelling, conflict photographer, but that’s not who all of us are. The whole time on the square, I found myself being much more drawn and interested in the quieter moments and it took me a while to realize those moments are just as important too.

We are all unique and we will all notice different things in similar situations and we will be better at photographing in certain situations over others. Journalism is a communal effort and we need to be honest with ourselves, find out the type of stories you’re best at and are drawn to. Then don’t be afraid to do it.

NMAF: That was over three years ago, and since then Ukraine has experienced war and occupation perhaps beyond the worst fears of those who gathered on the Maidan. How has this story stayed with you since then? 

Marta: My time on the Maidan has been one of the factors that keeps driving me to keep coming back to this region and exploring the underlying issues more deeply, looking at why things are the way they are now, what’s caused them and what keeps causing them?

It’s also something I’ve always wanted to do because my background is Ukrainian. I’ve always been drawn to Ukraine and Eastern Europe because I’ve grown up with my cultural heritage being so central in my life, from participating in folk activities, being involved in the diaspora community to regular dinner table conversations about Eastern European politics. I actually started primary school barely speaking English because at home we just spoke Ukrainian. It has a huge place in my heart. I’ve started looking at my own family’s history in the area, connecting with relatives and following the story of Ukrainians in Poland who were deported from the South-Eastern territories in 1947 under military Operation Vistula. Deportations are a huge part of Eastern Europe’s history and play a huge factor in why things are the way they are today.

There has definitely been media fatigue with Ukraine as the conflict reaches yet another year. It’s why I think it’s more important than ever to stay with the story and understand what is happening there, to put the past and the future in greater context for the average viewer.

NMAF: For the camera nerds, what bodies and lenses do you shoot with? And what was your technical approach to the photography on the Maidan? 

Marta: Back then, during those three months on the Maidan, I was using a D600 and a 35mm f/2 and a 24-70mm. This is still my favourite set-up although now I have a D810 with a 35mm f/1.4. My technical approach is to go as light on gear as possible, zoom with your feet and build intimacy with the people you are photographing. This will create a much better photo than any lens or camera body can.

NMAF: You worked with Anna Minzhulina, then the art director of Maisonneuve, who said she was stunned by the evocative scenes and characters that jumped out from your images. Can you describe the creative process of how the two of you edited your body of work into a story that connected with the magazine reader? 

Marta: Anna is an extremely talented and passionate editor and I am so grateful for her eye. Editing is an art of its own and a skill many photographers often lack, myself included. It was also a story I had immersed myself in, so it can be very hard to be objective about the photos when editing, which is where Anna came in.

So often, I would attach a personal memory or story to a photo and Anna was able to single out the photos that could still speak to a viewer who was encountering them without all the backstory. She chose the photos that could speak on their own and spoke together cohesively to tell the story of the square.

It was also exciting to be able to tell a story in a magazine over so much space. The majority of my time I’ve spent working in newspapers where it’s usually one image to tell a story, but here it was a different process of how the photos work together to form a narrative.

Women photographers are still an anomaly in the male-dominated documentary photo world, with its emphasis on traditionally masculine values like the courage and bravery to ‘shoot’ with a camera. We need to encourage more female visual voices like Iwanek’s here in Canada and around the world. Death does not distinguish between genders. It takes all. But I’m interested in how the female eye looking through a photographic lens might see it differently. It’s important that we have different perspectives, that we pay attention to what they might show us that we haven’t considered before. That’s why we need exposure to more work of female war photographers, such as Iwanek.
Anna Minzhulina, former art director, Maisonneuve

NMAF: The night of the 2016 National Magazine Awards, you didn’t have a ticket to get in, but as the show started you were hanging out in the foyer in case your name was called. And it was—twice! What was that experience like? And when you were on stage accepting your awards, what was your message to the audience?

Marta: I was generously given a seat at the sponsor table and so in the end I was able to attend the awards. I had a small cheer crew at the table and we had a lot of fun. I hadn’t prepared a speech, but I just went up there and spoke from my heart. I thanked everyone who helped me and it was great to see Anna in the audience as I spoke. I was also thankful that the recognition of the award would bring more attention to the story, which had greatly fallen off the news cycle. It’s a story close to me and so I’m grateful for any opportunity to talk about it.

Marta Iwanek accepts the National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Photographer at the 2016 Gala.
Marta Iwanek accepts the National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Photographer at the 2016 Gala.

 

NMAF: Can you tell us about some of your latest projects, and what you’re up to next as a journalist? 

Marta: A project titled “Darling” was actually one of my first projects and still one close to my heart. It is a story about an elderly couple in Trenton, Ontario, where Lex Duncan is the at-home-caregiver for his wife Mary Duncan, who has dementia. I started it as a way to reconnect with a generation I felt I didn’t get a good chance to know after my last grandparent died.

It was a project to deal with the loss and also understanding what my parents, as well as countless others in our country are facing as they care for an ailing loved one. I am so grateful to the Duncan family who opened up their home to me and gave me a chance to get to know them and tell this story.

Lex Duncan wakes his wife Mary up in the morning in Trenton, Ontario. Mary was diagnosed with dementia in 2008 and Lex cared for her in their home until she died in 2015. (Photo courtesy Marta Iwanek.)
Lex Duncan wakes his wife Mary up in the morning in Trenton, Ontario. Mary was diagnosed with dementia in 2008 and Lex cared for her in their home until she died in 2015. (Photo courtesy Marta Iwanek.)

 

This year I started photographing in the villages my grandparents came from. They were once Ukrainian villages but after WWII became part of Poland and the majority of the Ukrainians who lived there were deported and dispersed either to Soviet Ukraine or throughout Poland, my grandparents included.

I’ve always been curious about my roots and grew up with a father who has worked as a historian, making films and writing books on eastern European history. So after the Maidan I became interested in exploring Eastern Europe on a deeper level and understanding events in the past that have an effect on the present. Through this project I want to explore how identity changes when a culture is displaced from its ancestral land. It’s been a very personal project, but I’ve also found it to be incredibly universal through the many forced migrations happening throughout the world today.


Marta Iwanek is a National Magazine Award-winning photojournalist whose work has appeared in Maisonneuve, Maclean’s, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, and other publications. In 2016 she was named Canada’s Best New Magazine Photographer by the National Magazine Awards Foundation. Discover more of her work at martaiwanek.com

The 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards are open for submissions until January 20, including three different categories for photography. Enter at magazine-awards.com.

Read more Off the Page interviews with National Magazine Award-winning photographers including Roger LeMoyne and Ian Willms.

NMA gala photos by Steven Goetz for the National Magazine Awards Foundation. 

Enter Best New Magazine Writer | 2017 National Magazine Awards

Are you an emerging Canadian magazine journalist? Have you published your first feature story in a Canadian consumer, B2B or university magazine within the last 2 years? Chances are you’re eligible to be named Canada’s Best New Magazine Writer from the National Magazine Awards Foundation.

The National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer goes to the journalist whose early work in Canadian magazines shows the highest degree of craft and promise. The award includes a cash prize of $1000, an awards certificate, and nationwide recognition.

ELIGIBILITY
Eligible work–including profiles, personal essays, reporting, literary journalism and other non-fiction genres–must have been published in a Canadian magazine (print, online or tablet) between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016. Candidates must not have published any feature-length magazine work prior to 2015. The intent is to restrict this award to students and emerging writers with a maximum of 2 years’ experience in professional journalism. One entry per person. See the NMAF’s rules for further information about eligible publications.

HOW TO ENTER
Enter your submissions at magazine-awards.com. Submissions may be made by the writer or their editor or teacher, and must include a PDF of the work as well as a letter of reference (see requirements below). The deadline for applications is January 20. The cost to enter is $95 (freelancers who enter their own work may be eligible for the Freelancer Support Fund and an entry fee of just $50).

REQUIREMENTS

  • Upload a PDF of your story during the online application.
  • Upload a PDF of a letter of reference from a teacher, editor, mentor or colleague, which should introduce the candidate to the jury, attest to their eligibility for this award, and provide context for the work submitted. Both the story and letter are reviewed by the judges.
  • Pay the submission fee by cheque or credit card.

FINALISTS AND WINNERS
A shortlist of up to 5 finalists will be announced in the spring, and all finalists receive a certificate and recognition in NMAF publications and at the gala. The winner will be revealed at the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala.

PRIZE
There is a cash prize of $1000 and an awards certificate, and the right to call yourself a National Magazine Award winner. We’ll interview you for our blog and newsletter, and promote you and your work to art directors and magazine readers nationwide.

PREVIOUS WINNERS
Recent winners of the award for Best New Magazine Writer include Desmond Cole, Genna Buck, Sierra Skye Gemma and Catherine McIntyre.

Don’t forget the deadline: January 20, 2017.

Ready to submit? Click here.

ABOUT THE NMAF
The National Magazine Awards Foundation is a bilingual, not-for-profit institution whose mission is to foster, recognize and promote editorial excellence in Canadian publications. The annual program of awards are presented in the spring and are followed by a year-long national publicity campaign and several professional development opportunities.

Enter Best New Magazine Illustrator | 2017 National Magazine Awards

Are you an emerging Canadian magazine illustrator or graphic artist? Have you published your first major piece of visual work in a Canadian consumer or B2B magazine, a university magazine, or an arts journal within the last 3 years? Chances are you’re eligible to be named Canada’s Best New Illustrator from the National Magazine Awards Foundation.

The National Magazine Award for Best New Illustrator  goes to the artist whose early work in Canadian magazines shows the highest degree of craft and promise. The award includes a cash prize of $1000, an awards certificate, and nationwide recognition.

ELIGIBILITY
Eligible work–including illustration, photo illustration, infographics, graphic narratives and digital images–must have been published in a Canadian magazine (print, online or tablet) between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2016. The work can be a single illustration or a series accompanying an article or editorial package. Candidates must not have published any magazine work prior to 2014. The intent is to restrict this award to students and visual artists with a maximum of 3 years’ experience in professional journalism. One entry per person. See the NMAF’s rules for further information about eligible publications.

HOW TO ENTER
Enter your submissions at magazine-awards.com. Submissions may be made by the artist or their art director or teacher, and must include a PDF of the work as well as a letter of reference (see requirements below). The deadline for applications is January 20. The cost to enter is $95 (freelancers who enter their own work may be eligible for the Freelancer Support Fund and an entry fee of just $50).

REQUIREMENTS

  • Upload a PDF of your work during the online application.
  • Upload a PDF of a letter of reference from a teacher, art director, mentor or colleague, which should introduce the candidate to the jury, attest to their eligibility, for this award, and provide context for the work submitted. Both the visual work and letter are reviewed by the judges.
  • Pay the submission fee by cheque or credit card.

FINALISTS AND WINNERS
A shortlist of up to 5 finalists will be announced in the spring, and all finalists receive a certificate and recognition in NMAF publications and at the gala. The winner will be revealed at the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala.

PRIZE
There is a cash prize of $1000 and an awards certificate, and the right to call yourself a National Magazine Award winner. We’ll interview you for our blog and newsletter, and promote you and your work to art directors and magazine readers nationwide.

PREVIOUS WINNERS
Recent winners of the award for Best New Magazine Illustrator include Byron Eggenschwiler and Hudson Christie.

Don’t forget the deadline: January 20, 2017.

Ready to submit? Click here.

ABOUT THE NMAF
The National Magazine Awards Foundation is a bilingual, not-for-profit institution whose mission is to foster, recognize and promote editorial excellence in Canadian publications. The annual program of awards are presented in the spring and are followed by a year-long national publicity campaign and several professional development opportunities.

Off the Page, with Richard Kelly Kemick

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 that won 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 a piece for The Walrus questioning the future of poetry as an art form. In Adam Kirsch’s review of 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!

Richard Kelly Kemick accepts the award for One of a Kind at the 2016 National Magazine Awards gala.
Richard Kelly Kemick accepts the award for One of a Kind at the 2016 National Magazine Awards gala.

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.

Check out more Off the Page interviews with National Magazine Award-winning writers like Emily Urquhart, J.B. MacKinnon, Heather O’Neill and more.


The 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards are now accepting submissions for the best work in 2016. Deadline for entries: January 20. Submit now.