Your Guide to Fall 2013 Magazine Writing Contests

Magazine contests present a great opportunity for up-and-coming writers to get their creative projects published and their talents recognized by the magazine industry. They also offer many of Canada’s best literary mags a chance to grow their readership (most contests offer a complimentary subscription with the entrance fee) and connect with potential new writers. It’s about the most perfect win-win situation imaginable.

Plus, once in a while it leads all the way to a National Magazine Award. Earlier this year, the winner of the annual National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer went to Sierra Skye Gemma, whose winning story, “The Wrong Way,” was a contest winner in The New Quarterly. A 2008 winner in Prairie Fire‘s creative non-fiction contest, “Prehistory” by Alex Leslie, won a Gold National Magazine Award in Personal Journalism. (Read our interview with Alex Leslie.) Many other magazine contest winners have been nominated for NMAs over the years. (Check out the NMA Archive.)

And whether it leads to a publication, an award (and prize money!) or just the next chapter of your life as a writer, the magazine contest is best appreciated for moving that story or poem you’ve been working on into production; for getting it finished and putting it out into the world.

Here are some contests coming up this season, offered by a host of great Canadian magazines…

Geist: Erasure Poetry Contest
Sections: Poetry
Deadline: September 30, 2013
Prize: $600 (first); $250 (second); $150 (third); publication in Geist; prize packs for HM
Entry Fee: $20 (includes subscription)

CBC Canada Writes Short Story Contest
Section: Fiction
Deadline: November 1, 2013
Prize: $6000 + Banff Centre Residency (1st) + Publication in enRoute (1st prize); $1000 for each of 4 runners up
Entry Fee: $25

The Malahat Review Open Season Awards
Sections: Fiction; Poetry; Creative non-fiction
Deadline: November 1, 2013
Prize: $1000 to the winner in each section + publication
Entry Fee: $35 (includes subscription)

PRISM International Literary Non-fiction Contests
: Literary non-fiction
Deadline: November 28, 2013 December 5, 2013 [Updated]
Prize: $1500 (1st); $300 (2nd); $200 (3rd); publication in magazine
Entry Fee: $35 (includes subscription)
Details [Note: Prism will host its annual Fiction and Poetry contests in January, 2014.]

Prairie Fire Creative Writing Contests
Sections: Creative non-fiction; Short fiction; Poetry
Deadline: November 30, 2013
Prize: $1250 (1st); $500 (2nd); $250 (3rd); publication in magazine
Entry Fee: $32 (includes subscription)

Briarpatch Creative Writing Contest
Sections: Creative non-fiction; Fiction
Deadline: December 1, 2013
Prize: $300 + print publication (1st); $75 + online publication (honourable mention)
Entry Fee: $25 (includes subscription)

The Fiddlehead 23rd annual Literary Contest
Sections: Poetry; Fiction
Deadline: December 1, 2013
Prize: $2000 (winner); $250 each for 2 runners-up; publication in magazine
Entry Fee: $30 (includes subscription)

Freefall 13th & 13th Flash Fiction Contest
Section: Short Fiction
Deadline: December 13, 2013
Prize: $130
Entry Fee: $13
Details: Entrants submit a short fiction story (500 words) around the general guideline of “What happened on Friday, September 13, 2013, at the corner of 13th Street and 13th Avenue.” More info:

Freefall 2013 Prose & Poetry Contests
Section: Fiction; Poetry
Deadline: December 31, 2013
Prize: $600 (1st); $150 (2nd); $75 (3rd); $25 (HM); publication in magazine
Entry Fee: $21 (includes subscription); additional entries $5 each

Other contests on the horizon for 2014:
The New Quarterly literary contests
CBC Canada Writes non-fiction & poetry contests
Prism International fiction & poetry contests
Grain magazine Short Grain writing contests
Event magazine creative non-fiction context
Writers Union of Canada various contests
Geist magazine various contests
Arc Poetry Magazine various contests
Up Here magazine various contests
Quebec Writing Competition
Room magazine short story contest

Did we miss something? Email staff[at]magazine-awards[dot]com or hail us on Twitter @MagAwards.

Check out the Contests section of this blog for frequent updates on similar opportunities from Canadian magazines.

Workshop by NMA-winning Poet Julie Bruck

Two-time National Magazine Award-winning poet Julie Bruck, who also has a Governor General Literary Award in her impressive collection of honours, will lead a nine-week “Fearless Poetry Workshop” this fall in San Francisco, part of highly regarded Writing Salon where she has been an instructor for the past eight years. Yes, the catch is you have to be in San Francisco to take the workshop, which runs from October 17-December 19. More information at The Writing Salon website.

In 1999 Ms. Bruck became the first person to win consecutive Gold National Magazine Awards in the Poetry category, winning for a collection of poems published in the Malahat Review after having won the top prize in 1998 for her work in Carousel. She has been an NMA finalist four times and has also served on the jury for the poetry award.

Word on the Street? Great magazine deals & more

This weekend in 5 cities across Canada, it’s the annual book and magazine festival, Word on the Street, a smorgasbord of workshops, author readings, presentations and a marketplace for great deals on books and magazine subscriptions.

Saturday in Kitchener, and Sunday in Lethbridge, Halifax, Saskatoon and Toronto, all open to the public.

It’s an especially great opportunity to acquaint yourself with many of Canada’s wonderful independent and literary magazines.

In Toronto, for example, you’ll want to check out the booths of great (and National Magazine Award-nominated or -winning) titles such as Canadian Dimension, Canadian Art, The Feathertale Review, Maisonneuve, The New Quarterly, Shameless, Spacing, Taddle Creek, THIS Magazine, Toronto Review of Books, The Walrus, Worn Fashion Journal and more.

And the impressive list of authors on hand includes National Magazine Award-winners Anne Dowsett Johnson, Don Gillmor, David Macfarlane, Shawn Micallef, Katrina Onstad and others.

Come out this weekend and join the fun!

A Brief History of Magazines in First Covers

Ernest Hemingway wrote a story for the inaugural issue of Esquire in 1933. The debut of Rolling Stone in ’67 featured John Lennon in military garb. Gracing the first cover of People in 1974 was Mia Farrow, promoting her new film “The Great Gatsby” (deja vu?).

Recently the blog at The Week put up 17 first covers of famous American magazines, including Time (1923), Newsweek (then News-Week, 1933), Life (1936), New York (1968) and Wired (1993).

On February 21, 1925, Eustace Tilley came to life as a cover icon for The New Yorker (note the cover price: 15 cents. In 1965 it was 25 cents; in 1991, $1.75; and today, $6.99).

The first cover photo of Sports Illustrated in 1954 featured a swinging Eddie Matthews (career stats: .271 batting average, 512 home runs, 2 World Series titles, debuted for the Boston Braves, before they moved to Milwaukee and then Atlanta, and long after they were known as the Boston Beaneaters).

And how about that first cover of The Atlantic Monthly., which sent its first issue to press in 1857 to crowd the newsstands with Harper’s, which had launched seven years earlier.

Check out all 17 covers and their stories.

A couple of years ago the Magazines Canada blog started posting first covers of Canadian magazines, featuring National Magazine Award winners like The Beaver (1920), Chatelaine (1928), The Fiddlehead (1945), THIS Magazine (1966), Cottage Life (1988), The Walrus (2003) and more.

New book from NMA Winner Ann Dowsett Johnston on Women & Alcohol

A new book by seven-time National Magazine Award winner Ann Dowsett Johnston examines the history and sociology of women and alcohol, confronting recent developments in female drinking behavior, corporate marketing and feminist theory while layering in her own story of abuse and recovery.

According to its publisher, HarperCollins Canada, Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol “combines in-depth research with [the author’s] own personal story of recovery, and delivers a groundbreaking examination of a shocking yet little recognized epidemic threatening society today: the precipitous rise in risky drinking among women and girls.”

With the feminist revolution, women have closed the gender gap in their professional and educational lives. They have also achieved equality with men in more troubling areas as well. In the U.S. alone, the rates of alcohol abuse among women have skyrocketed in the past decade. DUIs, “drunkorexia” (choosing to limit eating to consume greater quantities of alcohol), and health problems connected to drinking are all rising—a problem exacerbated by the alcohol industry itself.

Ms. Johnston is a former editor at Maclean’s, where she edited the annual University Rankings for 14 years, garnering NMA nominations every year from 1992-2004. Her new book grew out of a 13-part series she produced for the Toronto Star on women and alcohol.