Deborah Elderhorst wins the 2019 CNFC/Humber Literary Review Creative Nonfiction Contest

Congratulations to Deborah Elderhorst, whose piece “Foreign Object” was selected by Helen Humphreys as the 2019 winner of the CNFC/Humber Literary Review Creative Nonfiction Contest.

Deborah Elderhorst is an Australian-Canadian writer whose work has appeared in literary journals and anthology in Australia, New Zealand, and the US. Find her online at

An excerpt of the winning piece is included below. “Foreign Object” will be published in full in an upcoming issue of the Humber Literary Review.


I find my two-year-old daughter in the bathroom, dark bruises of plum and charcoal on her face, mouth a red gash, the floor tiles around her streaked and sullied. She squats in the shower stall, the smashed, smeared contents of my makeup kit around her. Sparkle-dirty fingers clench when I bend to clear a path through the ravaged cosmetics; she resents my intrusion on her private explorations, shouts, “Mummy go ‘way.” It is an instruction, not a plea.

Hours later, when her father lifts her in his arms at the grocery store, I glance up and notice a small white foreign object plugging one of her nostrils: a wadded piece of cotton ball, it turns out, tightly lodged. At home, with her father holding her still, I will perform a delicate extraction, the tweezer-tips almost too large for the opening in her toddler’s nose.


I phone my mother and share this latest grandchild story. She says, “She’s just like you,” reminds me of the time I shoved a piece of broken china up my nose. I have heard her tell the story before. We do not touch on how it is I came to be alone, in close proximity to the shards of a broken teacup—she does not like reminders of my father, whom we escaped years ago.

Congratulations to all of this year’s finalists and thanks to everyone who submitted.

2019 CNFC/Humber Literary Review creative nonfiction contest short list revealed!

Thanks to everyone who submitted to this year’s CNFC/Humber Literary Review creative nonfiction contest.

Our 2019 judge, Helen Humphreys, selected the following three pieces for the short list. The contest winner will be announced on June 14 at the CNFC annual conference in Vancouver, BC. Congrats to all the finalists!

“Foreign Object,” by Deborah Elderhorst

Deborah Elderhorst is an Australian-Canadian writer whose work has appeared in literary journals and anthology in Australia, New Zealand, and the US. Find her online at

“Leaving Saskatchewan,” by Melanie Mah

Melanie Mah’s debut novel, The Sweetest One, won the 2017 Trillium Book Award, and her work’s been published in the Humber Literary Review, PRISM International, Room, and Brick. She’s currently at work on an intergenerational memoir and holds an MFA from the University of Guelph. Born and raised in Alberta, she now lives in Toronto.

“Fools Rush In,” by Julie Paul

Julie Paul is the author of the poetry collection The Rules of the Kingdom and three collections of short fiction, including the just-released Meteorites (B & G, 2019). She lives in Victoria BC, where, in addition to writing, she works as a Registered Massage Therapist.

Announcing the 2019 CNFC/Humber Literary Review contest long list!

Humber Literary Review and the Creative Nonfiction Collective Society are pleased to announce the long list for our 2019 creative nonfiction contest:

“How to Become a Woman Carpenter,” by Marcia Braundy

“Foreign Object,” by Deborah Elderhorst

“All the Cake I Never Ate,” by Sierra Skye Gemma

“Metamorphosis of My Mother,” by Carole Harmon

“Algebra Lessons,” by sonja larsen

“High Tension Line,” by Lina Lau

“Leaving Saskatchewan,” by Melanie Mah

“Fools Rush In,” by Julie Paul

“Surfing, Not Drowning,” by Shannon Rayne

“The Burn Unit,” by Alyson Soko

Congratulations to everyone who made the long list and a big thank you to all who participated!

Thank you also to competition readers: Nancy O’Rourke, Eufemia Fantetti, Christopher Moore, and Kirsten Fogg.

Watch for the short list announcement in May.

The winner of the contest, as selected by this year’s judge, Helen Humphreys, will be announced at the 15th Annual CNFC Conference, held in Vancouver from June 14 to 16, 2019.