Announcing the 2019 CNFC/Humber Literary Review Creative Nonfiction Contest

The Humber Literary Review and the Creative Nonfiction Collective Society (CNFC) have joined forces to bring you a Canada-wide creative nonfiction contest.

CONTEST CLOSES February 14, 2019 at MIDNIGHT EST.

Winners will be announced in June 2019 at the annual CNFC conference in Vancouver, BC. First prize includes payment of $750 and publication in The Humber Literary Review. 

WHAT: Original previously unpublished creative nonfiction – maximum word length 3,000 words (no minimum). Literary journalismmemoir, the personal or lyric essay—all are welcome.

WHO: The competition is open to Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada.

WHEN: The deadline is February 14, 2019 at midnight EST.

FEE: General public $20; CNFC members $15.

Members of the CNFC receive a discount on the entry fee. Find out how to join

HOW: Submissions accepted via our online submission form only. The contest will be judged blind so PLEASE don’t put your name or contact information on the actual submission. If you do not delete identifying information, your submission will be disqualified.

The judge will be Helen Humphreys, keynote speaker at the 2019 CNFC conference.

SUBMIT NOW

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The Humber Literary Review, a literary and arts magazine, publishes two print issues a year (fall/winter & spring/summer). Its pages feature personal essays, short fiction, poetry, artwork, and comics by emerging and established Canadian artists. The HLR is distributed by Magazines Canada and can be found in bookstores and on newsstands across the country. Work from the HLR has been featured in Best Canadian PoetryBest Canadian Essays, and has been nominated for a National Magazine Award. Find out more.

The Creative Nonfiction Collective Society (CNFC) promotes innovation and excellence in Canadian creative nonfiction writing. It  provides its close to 300 members from across Canada with opportunities to enrich professional skills, including support in adapting to new publishing contexts. The CNFC advocates for the genre’s prominence and inclusion in Canada’s educational institutions, cultural agencies, and literary organizations. The 2019 CNFC conference is scheduled for June 14 to 16 in Vancouver at UBC’s Point Grey Campus. Find out more.

 

Looking for some inspiration? Check out these excerpts from past contest winners.

2019 CNFC Conference: June 14 to 16 in Vancouver

The 2019 CNFC conference is scheduled for June 14 to 16 in Vancouver at UBC’s Point Grey Campus.

We are excited to announce that Helen Humphreys will give the keynote address.

She will also take part in a panel called “Genre-Bending: Hybrid Forms of Fiction and Nonfiction,” with Chelene Knight, Betsy Warland, and Renee Saklikar.

The In Conversation event will feature a discussion on writing family between Elizabeth Hay and David Chariandy.

Stay tuned as more conference news is revealed over the next few months.

Excerpts from past CNFC contest winners

2018 winner: “Descent into Darkness,” by Nancy O’Rourke

Machetes. The weapons of choice. Crude weapons, many of them with blades stained dark by the blood of victims. Machetes used viciously in the streets, in markets, schools, and churches. Machetes used to maim and slaughter men, women and children. Machetes used by farmers, shop owners, teachers, and priests. Machetes used to kill strangers, neighbours and sometimes family members.

*

I’d only been reunited with the children of Kimihurura for two weeks. Back in Rwanda on a United Nations contract, I was recognized one day by a man on the street. A man who remembered me from 18 years earlier as the white woman, the Muzungu, who played with children. Back then, I spent several months in the country visiting my then partner, who worked on a contract with the Rwanda Development Bank. With a love of children, but without any of my own, I was happy to join in with a group of neighbourhood kids, playing soccer in the afternoons, with a ball made up of wound-up plastic garbage bags. Those kids were something else. They strung up little lights around my heart.

Read more


2017 winner: “A Chaotic Jumble of Infinite Possibility,” by Joshua Levy

The bathroom was covered with graffiti.

For example:

The only things worth fighting for in this world are LOVE & FRIENDSHIP was written above the toilet. Immediately underneath: Wrong. You should never need to fight for love. And below, a third comment – this one in red: YOU are the fucking wrong one here, buddy. Love is a battlefield.

I washed my hands and checked my beard for signs of grey.

Outside, Toronto was only half awake. Fashionably dressed mannequins judged my plaid shirt and naturally faded blue jeans from behind glossy windows. In his car seat, a toddler pointed a gun at my head while we both patiently waited for the traffic lights to change colour.

Read more


2016 winner: “Spectrum,” by Nicole Breit

RED

The wild strawberry flush across my chest, her cheeks. An illicit kiss in her basement suite.
Five years in, we start counting: two eggs bled away casually every month.
Then, six months of flirting, negotiations. Two hopeful women. A captivated man.
Cosmopolitans. Our red leather couch under mistletoe and holly berries. Jazzberry cartoon hearts radiate around all of us.
“Please don’t break our hearts,” I say.
“I won’t.” His scarlet cape promise. The last time we see him.
A year and a half later the rouged Costco employee, white hair rolled into a hairnet, hands out samples. Lights up, says “Such a beautiful baby!” and asks again, “But really, who’s the real mother?”
My girlfriend — the birth mother — looks down at her kid-size cup of tickle-me-pink sauce and says flatly, “This tastes terrible.”

Read more


2015 winner: “Nana Technology,” by Kirsten Fogg

A faded picture of me and my little brother pops up whenever I turn on my phone. Here, encased magically in modern technology that my brother never knew, is the past that we were. It’s his third birthday, we’re sitting on top of the picnic table in striped bathing suits. I’m holding a patterned punching ball in my lap and his arms are reaching out, as if towards the future, but I know what he really wants is the chocolate cake mum’s carrying towards us.

Even today, I stare at the smart phone in my hand and marvel at its ability to link the past with the present, to take bits and pieces of me, my body and my voice, tear them apart, send them hurtling through the air and reconstruct them all on the other side of the world. In Skype milliseconds, I jump from Australia to Canada, from midnight to Manitoba morning, from today to yesterday, from my home office to Nana’s funeral. If only I could reconstruct my brother in the same way.

Read more


2014 winner: “On Good Days,” by B.A. Markus

On good days I’m Gertrude Stein

On bad days I’m Mordecai Richler.

On good days it is the same sun that shone on Gertrude Stein that shines on me. On good days I fling open my shutters and shout, “Quelle belle journée!” and with my basket on my arm I wander as Alice B. Toklas did, from shop to shop in a delightful quartier.

In my delightful quartier I buy 200 grams of goat cheese from les Îles de la Madeleine. Artisanal cheese made from raw milk. Milk from goats who eat the grass that grows on the slopes of those northeastern shores. Grass cured by the Atlantic’s salty breezes. Cheese that tastes of the sea. This is what goes into my basket. On good days I hesitate between not one, not two, but four crusty white baguettes, all baked locally and according to the highest culinary standards. Just like on la rive gauche. Le pain, le pain, surtout le pain.

Read more

One CNFC member’s very unusual publishing journey

“You have stolen my image,” read the subject line. I waited until I had a few minutes of spare time to read the rest of the email. It was Friday. Deadline day at the Haliburton Echo, a weekly community newspaper where I’d been interning for two months. I had until noon to file all my stories and photos for the week.

When I finally read the email, sent by an Indian photographer by the name of Udayan Sankar Pal, I thought it was a joke. Udayan wanted to sue me for copyright violation.

“I can contact the Embassy of Canada in India, or any other organization who supports you like The Canada Council of the Arts, Writer’s Union of Canada and the Creative Nonfiction Collective, for the justice,” he wrote.

What image was he talking about? The one on the cover of my book, he continued, listed for sale on numerous websites, including Chapters, Amazon, 49th Shelf. Book? I did a quick search and lo’ and behold there was Where Are You From?, the manuscript that had been languishing on the shelf of a small Saskatchewan publishing house for five years. Six months earlier, in January, the publisher had promised to give me a definite answer by April.

For years I had lived in hope of the answer every fledgling writer wants to hear—yes we will publish this 200-page piece of your heart. In 2011, I’d sent the manuscript to the Saskatchewan publisher from Hokkaido, Japan, where I was employed as an English teacher. I’d sealed the manila envelope with oxblood red wax, and kissed it for good luck. When I returned to Canada and the publisher suggested a rewrite, a digging deeper kind of rewrite, I spent three months holed up in my parents’ renovated tool shed to comply.

And then I waited. I managed a bed and breakfast on Haida Gwaii; I started a Master’s of Journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto. Every now and then, the publisher would write and apologize for the delay. And then came the email from India.

After consulting with the Writers’ Union of Canada, I learned that if no contract had been signed for Where Are You From, no one could sue me. Udayan and I became friends. He contacted the Canada Council for the Arts and reported the publisher’s unethical behaviour. Two months and five hundred dollars (the amount Udayan insisted upon for his photo) later, the publisher apologized. They asked if I would still consider having my manuscript published. I said no. The words I’d always wanted to hear had lost their magic power.

Fast forward seventeen months. An email from a new literary press in Saskatchewan: “In our scan of recent documents of that company we came across reference to your work, Where Are You From?” The new press had bought out the old, and acquired all their assets. Would I like to publish with them? They promised to be “writer friendly.” To be honest, it had been so long since I first sent out the manuscript, I didn’t care anymore. Yes, I wrote back halfheartedly. I went through the motions. The edits. The cover choices.

But now, as I hold this book that has been on such a long journey, and has even been given a new name, I do care. When I picked up the 50-kilogram box full of books in Toronto’s Pape Village two weeks ago, I drove all the way down to Lake Ontario before I dared open it. And then I walked half an hour before I sat down on a bench, stroking the cover, smelling the pages, reading every word like it was for the first time. I took the book out for lunch, laying it beside my Thai green curry and Singha beer. I wrote this, I thought as I took another bite, another sip, wondering who I could tell. The waitress? The handsome man at the table by the window? I kept glancing at it, smiling at my little secret.

 

Creative Nonfiction Master Class with Award-winning Writer Helen Humphreys, Author of The Frozen Thames and The Ghost Orchard

Come prepared to write!  The workshop will cover all elements of writing book-length creative nonfiction, including: research, shaping a narrative, structure, form, and voice.

Helen Humphreys is the award-winning author of four books of poetry, eight novels, and four works of creative non-fiction. Her books have been widely translated, performed as stage plays and operas, and optioned for film. She lives and writes in Kingston, Ontario.

DATE: Sunday, October 7

TIME:  9AM – 5PM

LOCATION: Artspace Boardroom, Room 424, 100 Arthur Street, Winnipeg

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT

Manitoba Writers Guild manitobawritersguild3@gmail.com

or call Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday: (204) 944-8013 between 10 am – 2 pm.

WORKSHOP FEE: For Manitoba Writers Guild Members $100.00.  Non Members: $125.00. Students: (Max. 5) $60.00.  (Paypal accepted)

To get your tickets, follow this link:
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/creative-non-fiction-master-class-tickets-49102679436

We hope to see you there!

This event is sponsored By Creative Nonfiction Collective (CNFC) and Manitoba Writers’ Guild.