The National Magazine Award for Fiction has a storied history (oh goodness, please pardon that pun). Alice Munro won the inaugural NMA fiction gold medal in 1978 (and again in 1983, and again in 1999). Yann Martel won in 1993; Elizabeth Hay in 1995; Lynn Crosbie in 2002; Shyam Selvadurai (2007).
In 2010, Steven Heighton joined Munro as a three-time gold-medal winner (also winning in 1992 and 2008). Jay Teitel won the silver medal back in 1978, then won the gold medal 26 years later. William Gibson, Thomas King, Patrick deWitt, and Zsuzsi Gartner have also been winners.
This year’s National Magazine Awards jury considered a wide range of submissions from Canada’s top literary magazines for this year’s fiction prize, an award presented by Ontario Arts Council, which has supported the National Magazine Awards and Canadian literary artists for decades.
In her 2016 National Magazine Award-winning story “The Beguiling” (sub-Terrain) Zsuzsi Gartner pens a portrait of an amputee cinephile named Zoltan whose sense of the world is derived from the human stories that pass through his (and others’) camera lens. In one scene, at the hospital, the ailing character is suddenly inspired to think of himself as a “little dog,” the kind that audiences root for to overcome challenges. The narrator explains:
He meant the North American penchant for happy endings. Fairy tales. But in the original fairy tales we all know the most diabolical things happen, eyes are pecked out by birds, there’s cannibalism and decapitation, and the little mermaid doesn’t marry the prince but dissolves into sad foam on the sea.
What inspires your sense of the world? What’s your penchant for endings? Happy ones with strong little dogs, or more of a dissolution into empty water? Whatever your approach to the craft–and whether fiction, poetry, memoir or photography–you’ll find plenty of outlets for your stories in Canadian magazines.
And so the NMAF presents its annual Winter/Spring Guide to Canadian Writing (and Photography) Contests.
All contests and awards listed below accept previously unpublished works of Canadian poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction and photography; listed in chronological order by deadline date. If you know of one that we missed, please let us know or Tweet at us @MagAwards.
The New Quarterly Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award Genre: Fiction Deadline: May 28, 2017 Prize: $1000 + publication Entry Fee: $40; includes subscription Details: http://www.tnq.ca/contests Note: All submissions will be considered for paid publication ($250) in the magazine.
Welcome to autumn, all you writers, poets and shutterbugs. Time to let the soft, low-angle sunlight, the cool, easterly winds, and the pumpkin-spiced everything inspire you towards your next artistic endeavour. But beware the lure of the tired metaphor, for in his 2016 National Magazine Award-winning poem “The High Road,” David McGimpsey warns:
Are you the kind of person who giggles
when you hear somebody say “poetry
is like peeling an onion”? Yes? Really?
I’m afraid I must take the high road now
The National Magazine Awards contest guide lists any writing or photography contest in a Canadian magazine or digital publication, or one that seeks emerging Canadian creators. As always, the list below may be incomplete. Leave a comment here or hail us on Twitter @MagAwards#WritingContest if you know of any we missed.
The contests in our Fall 2016 edition are organized by deadline date, from September 30 to December 31.
Room Cover Art Contest Genre: Visual Art Deadline: November 30, 2016 Prizes: $500 + your art on the cover of Room’s issue 40.2 (1st place); $50 + publication (2nd); web publication (Honourable Mention) Entry Fee: $35 (includes subscription); $7 for each additional entry Details: http://roommagazine.com/contests
Up Here Photo Contest Categories: Grand Prize; Science & Nature; Travel & Adventure; Arts & Culture; People & History Deadline: November 30, 2016 Prizes: Nikon 7200 HD-SLR + lens (Grand Prize winner); subscriptions for winners in each of 4 categories; publication Entry Fee: None Details: http://uphere.ca/photocontest Note: Contest open to all Canadians; photographs must be of Canada’s North
Did we miss one? Send us a note or hail us on Twitter @MagAwards. We’ll update this post throughout the fall as more contests are announced. Find more awards, prizes and contests for magazine journalism on the Awards and Contests pages of this blog.
Like the heirloom tomatoes soaking up the sun and the rain and the urban-air particles on this blogger’s Toronto balcony, summer writing season is ripening on the vine, still green with youth but tantalizingly close to fruition.
In his National Magazine Award-winning poem from this year’s NMAs, David McGimpsey writes of the self-defeating anxiety of creating something significant:
There is your life with the coffee-stained pants,
paint-stained pants and oxy-contin-stained pants.
O, your unfinished novel’s hero yearns—
he’s been sleeping on an army cot
in a Wendy’s basement in Los Robles.
Read the entire award-winning poem “The High Road” (Vallum) by David McGimpsey.
Summer is no time to put off writing. Be inspired to create your next work of poetry, fiction or personal essay. Take the opportunity to finish your latest literary creation and submit it to a Canadian magazine writing contest.
Our annual Summer Contest Guide provides a list of contests via Canadian magazines (or magazine-related organizations) open to unpublished works of Fiction, Poetry, Creative non-fiction and Photography. And check out our Canadian Literary Magazine Guide for other ideas for where to submit your work.
Please note: This list is organized chronologically by deadline dates from June 22 to September 22. If you know of a contest we missed, please email us or grab us on Twitter @MagAwards and we’ll update our guide.
On June 10th hundreds of Canada’s top writers, artists, editors, designers and other creators will come together to acknowledge creative excellence at the 39th annual National Magazine Awards. One of the awards to be presented that evening in Toronto is the award for Fiction, presented by the Ontario Arts Council.
This year’s ten nominated writers and magazines represent the diversity of literary magazine publishing in Canada. Take the time to read them all–they are the best of the best in Canadian short fiction writing published in 2015. Gold and Silver medals will be presented at the ceremony on June 10th.
Winter. A shivery season not only conducive to externalizing our inner narratives in poetry and prose, but also which leaves us, as we curl under heirloom quilts with cups of tea, prone to daydreaming. Michael Pollan, in A Place of My Own–a bestseller in which the author writes the biography of his own writing cabin in the woods–used the daydream as metaphor for the writer’s first draft. “A fair amount of what [writers] call work,” wrote Pollan, “consists of little more than daydreaming edited.” He went on:
Isn’t it in our daydreams that we acquire some sense of what we are about? Where we try on futures and practice our voices before committing ourselves to words or deeds? Daydreaming is where we go to cultivate the self, or more likely selves, out of the view and earshot of other people. Without daydreams, the self is apt to shrink down to the size and shape of the estimation of others.
Like Thoreau, Shaw, Woolf and her Room of One’s Own, and countless others, Pollan understood that daydreaming depended “on a certain degree of solitude,” and resolved to build a cabin to allow his daydreaming to flourish. “What is a book but a daydream at second hand?”
Wherever you find yourself writing this winter and spring, these Canadian magazine contests may be just what you’re daydreaming for.
All contests and awards listed below accept previously unpublished works of Canadian poetry, short fiction and creative non-fiction; listed in chronological order by deadline date. (If you know one that we missed, please let us know.)
Narrative Magazine Winter 2016 Story Contest Genres: Non-fiction; Fiction; Graphic Narratives; Photo Essays Deadline: March 31, 2016 Prize: $2,500 (1st); $1000 (2nd); $500 (3rd); $100 (finalists) Entry Fee: $24 Details: http://www.narrativemagazine.com/winter-2016-story-contest Notes: Entries can be short stories, essays, memoirs, photo essays, graphic stories, all forms of literary nonfiction, and excerpts from longer works of both fiction and nonfiction. Entries must be previously unpublished, no longer than 15,000 words, and must not have been previously chosen as a winner, finalist, or honorable mention in another contest.
Alice Munro Festival Short Story Contest Genre: Short Fiction (max 2500 words; separate categories for adults and youths) Deadline: April 1, 2016 Prizes: $1,500 (adults prize); $500 (youth prize); $500 (Arts & Letters Club Special Prize) Entry Fee: $25 (adults); $10 (youth) Details: http://alicemunrofestival.ca/?page_id=1317 Note: New this year, there is a special category for an emerging GTA author between the ages of 20 – 30. Sponsored by the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto. Must be living in the GTA or have grown up in that area.
The New Quarterly Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award Genre: Fiction Deadline: May 28, 2016 Prize: $1000 + publication Entry Fee: $40; includes subscription Details: http://www.tnq.ca/contests Note: All submissions will be considered for paid publication ($250) in the magazine.
The work of both writers and all the other finalists for the #GGBooks fiction and poetry prizes first appeared in one or more of Canada’s literary magazines, demonstrating yet again how important our cultural magazines are to fostering a strong and vibrant Canadian literary community.
In the spring of 2012 Robyn Sarah published a poem in The New Quarterlyissue #122 called “My Shoes Are Killing Me (a poem in nine movements),” which went on to be nominated for a National Magazine Award. Three years later, now expanded into a collection of poetry under the same title, Robyn Sarah’s work has won one of Canadian poetry’s highest honours.
Robyn Sarah won the National Magazine Award for fiction in 1993 (for “Accept my Story” in the Malahat Review), and she has also twice been nominated for her critical essays in TNQ.
Two other #GGBooks poetry finalists are NMA laureates. Patrick Lane has won 3 National Magazine Awards for his poetry, most recently for “Arroyo” published in Vallum. Kayla Czaga was a National Magazine Award poetry finalist in 2014, for “Song” and other poems in Arc Poetry Magazine.
Guy Vanderhaeghe was a finalist for the National Magazine Award in fiction this year for his story “Tick Tock” in Prairie Fire. His latest book of short fiction, Daddy Lenin and Other Stories, was named the #GGBooks winner this year, the third time he’s won the Governor General’s Literary Award.