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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit for more information.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Reading Series 7: Best Magazine Short Features

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Springsteen photo credit: Dave Cooper / Toronto Star

Alberta to Get Literary this weekend

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

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

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

Visit the AMPA for more information.

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

Summer Reading Series 6: Profound Poetry

Hannah Arendt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gaspésie Photography Festival includes Exhibits by NMA Winners

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy Edward Burtynsky /