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January 21, 2022

Hello everyone!

It is finally time to reveal the winners and runner-ups to this year's Literary Contests.  We are so grateful for all who entered and for the hard work of our readers and judges. Without all of you, this contest would not have been possible.

To our winners and runner ups, congratulations! You should be very proud!

Bryan Mortensen

Executive Director

Federation of BC Writers

The Winner:

Late(ral) Move

by Diane Massam

The Runner Up:


by Julie Mahfood

Runner Up: DIRGE by Julie Mahfood

I was really moved by the quiet understatement of “Dirge”. The layers of subtle details build in the dramatic tension and carry a weight of emotional impact for the reader. The poem’s energy builds to what was really dying/dead by the end of the poem. This serves as a lovely ‘aha’ moment that the poet gracefully took us to with complex nuances throughout. This is all done with a controlled/compressed style that feels perfectly balanced/perfectly realized.

-- Judge Kerry Gilbert, author of Tight Wire and Little Red

“Dirge” manages to pack both compression and expansion into a shorter poem that mourns the loss of a dog yet stands for so much more. This is a poem that makes every word count: each phrase or line compel the reader to feel what the narrator feels. Its line-breaks snap with their pain. We feel the sting.

-- Judge Al Rempel

Winner: Late(ral) Move by Diane Massam

I love where “Late(ral) Move” takes us in terms of landscape (both external and internal). It’s an intimate ode to loss and change, as well as an ode to Canada. It does what all great poetry should: surprise us with the unexpected. This is done here with beautiful poetic phrasing and with exciting lines that stay with the reader long after—like all good journeys do. This sophisticated poem is so multi-layered in meaning and context that it feels all kinds of authentic. The poem’s movement is dynamic/fresh, and I love where it takes us.

-- Judge Kerry Gilbert, author of Tight Wire and Little Red

“Late(ral) Move” grabs the reader’s attention right from the first line with poetry that pops and sizzles all the way down the page. The poem travels across the Canadian landscape, a maneuver that’s difficult to pull off without falling into the traps of nonstop description, dull repetition, or forced parallels. “Late(ral) Move” does it beautifully and adroitly, starting with “the land where the metal runs under its skin,” and carrying the reader across the prairies and into BC with a sustained cadence carefully set in long, meaty lines.

-- Judge Al Rempel

About Our Winner

Diane Massam is a linguist with a long career of academic writing on grammatical theory and Polynesian languages. She now writes poetry and fiction, exploring themes of memory, loss, and anxiety. She was an award winner in the 2020 Janice Colbert Poetry Contest. Diane lives in Victoria and also has roots in Ontario and Quebec.

The Winner:

We Do Not Lie Down

by  Barbara Black

The Runner Up:

The Jumper

by Clare Winstanley

The Runner Up: The Jumper by Clare Winstanley

A woman appraises a piece of her knitting and tells a story in colour and stitch and pattern—each deliberately chosen to record specific memories in wool. She’s an artist, no doubt. Every word and detail work together to set a mood, to set us up for a wicked twist of an ending. I’m always a fan of the love story and I love being surprised. I thought “The Jumper” was very well done.

-- Judge Ursula Vaira

The Winner:  We Do Not Lie Down by Barbara Black

From the first two sentences I was gripped. Ice on a lake is breaking up. A woman’s red coat stands out “like a pool of blood on the snow.” There is urgency to this story: I had to hear it. And as it turned out, this is a mother’s story that needed to be told.

Told in short sentences at first, the story quickly builds tension. Not a word not an image is wasted. Each is carefully chosen to build a sense of the frantic juxtaposed with beauty: of the land and of a mother’s son. And there lies its power to evoke emotion. I’ll be carrying this story with me for a long time.

-- Judge Ursula Vaira

About Our Winner

Barbara Black is an award-winning writer of fiction, flash fiction and poetry. Her first work of fiction, a short story collection titled Music from a Strange Planet, is published by Caitlin Press. Her work has been published in Canadian and international magazines and anthologies including the 2020 Bath Flash Fiction Award anthology, The Cincinnati Review, The New Quarterly, The Los Angeles Review, CV2, Geist and Prairie Fire. She was a finalist in the 2020 National Magazine Awards, nominated for the 2019 Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize and won the 2017 Writers’ Union of Canada Short Prose Prize. She is currently working on a hybrid novel and a collection of flash fiction. She lives in Victoria, BC, Canada., @barbarablackwriter and @bblackwrites.

The Winner:

From This Land

by Jaymie Campbell

The Runner Up:

Curtain Call

by Doris Corcese

Runner Up: Curtain Call by Doris Corcese

“While reading “Curtain Call” I enjoyed the drift into memory and the subtle connection to the water. In exploring an intimate familial relationship, we pay attention to how we sometimes have to let go in order to move forward. And in testing ourselves and our comfort levels, we can fully assess the power and potential of our own strength. “Curtain Call” feels like a celebration of life that ebbs and flows with the changing of every season.”

-- Judge Chelene Knight

The Winner: From This Land by Jaymie Campbell

“Although this small vignette allows us into a world for just a short moment, the vivid, gentle, and intimate description allows the reader a place to watch and learn. In “From This Land” I hear the heartbeat of daily life and I can see how slowing down builds connection not only to oneself, but to a future undiscovered. This piece is a moment to dream and to be proud of one’s contribution to their community.”

--  Judge Chelene Knight

About Our Winner

Jaymie Campbell is Anishnaabe from Curve Lake First Nation in Ontario and currently resides in British Columbia. Jaymie is an Indigenous designer, artist and writer who strives to incorporate traditional artistry techniques with contemporary style. She is inspired by her Anishnaabe roots, the land and her family.

Jaymie is a wife, daughter, auntie and sister. When she isn’t creating, she can usually be found hiking or canoeing with her pups, loves to travel, write, photograph and be on the land.

The Winner:

Sin Techo

by Kit Pepper

The Runner Up:

The Pool Light

by Estella Kuchta

The Runner Up: The Pool Light by Estella Kuchta

"A haunting story. The narrator voice in The Pool Light is pitch perfect. The child's perspective is absorbing and tragic, while at the same time wonderous and magical. A tricky balance to achieve, and the author has done it masterfully. The difficult subject matter isn't shied away from, and the child's interpretation is heartbreakingly believable."

-- Judge KT Wagner

The Winner: Sin Techo by Kit Pepper

"Beautifully written. A lyrical story that drew me in immediately and held on tight through the end. The author deftly weaves a magical realism tale of grief, escape and redemption. The healing power of art, nature and culture are resonant themes. Sin Techo is a window into a magical, melancholy world that, despite it's grim subject matter, offers a breath of hope. Very well done. Congratulations."

-- Judge KT Wagner

About Our Winner

I've been writing creatively for 3 decades, starting with poetry and more recently moving into short fiction.

This story is not characteristic of my other short stories; it is much more dreamy and surprised me many times.

Supported by the British Columbia Arts Council

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