Write NOWW Thunder Bay!

March 2018

Every spring, local writers wait for the opening of the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop’s Annual International Writing Contest, and this year, the wait has been worth it! After last year’s leap onto the world stage with internationally acclaimed Canadian judges, NOWW has continued to raise the bar with five exceptional judges for the five unique categories of writing.

“One of NOWW’s goals this year was to bring some of the best authors from across Canada to judge our writing contest,” says organizer Jodene Wylie. “They’re award winning. They’re well published. They’re iconic. You can get copies of their books in any local bookstore. Having authors like them judge our contest is a big deal, and such a great way to kick off the year.”

Submissions are now open for the 20th Annual International Writing Contest, with this year’s categories being Poetry, Short Fiction, Creative Nonfiction and Historical Fiction. The fifth category is the Bill MacDonald Prize for Prose, a category that focuses on stories set in Northwestern Ontario. It switches every year between Fiction and Creative Nonfiction, and for 2018, the category will feature Creative Nonfiction.

Judging the Poetry category is George Elliott Clarke, poet, playwright and essayist. He holds eight honorary doctorates, plus appointments to the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada. His recognitions include the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellows Prize, the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, the National Magazine Gold Award for Poetry, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award and many more. He was most recently the Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate from 2016 - 2017.

In the Short Fiction category, NOWW secured Heather O’Neill, novelist and short story writer whose novels have been shortlisted for the Governor-General’s Award and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her debut novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, won the CBC Canada Reads 2007. 

Judging the Creative Nonfiction category this year will be Helen Humphreys, a prolific writer whose works have won countless awards in all genres. From the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry to the Dublin IMPAC Literary Award, Helen’s career has touched on most aspects of writing, including creative nonfiction.
Celebrated author, Ross King, is judging this year’s surprise category, Historical Fiction. King is a two time Governor-General’s Award Winner (2006 & 2012) and his novels span Canadian, Italian and French history. His most recent book, Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies, was the winner of the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize.

Thunder Bay’s own Michael Christie will be judging the Bill MacDonald Prize for Prose (Creative Nonfiction). Michael’s recent novel, If I Fall, If I Die, (set in Thunder Bay) was longlisted for the Giller Prize, winner of the Northern Lit Award, and was selected as a New York Times Editors Choice. His debut novel, The Beggar’s Garden, was also longlisted for the Giller Prize, was a finalist for the Writers’ Trust Prize for Fiction and won the Vancouver Book Award.

“Writing is a passion that, without community, is locked away behind closed doors,” says Wylie. “NOWW wants to create community and engage people to come on out, write and participate. By entering contests, coming out to the awards party in May and watching our community of writers be awarded for their successes are important ways to uplift and support not only our peers, but ourselves.”

Throughout the last 20 years, the contest has grown and will be the cornerstone of a literary weekend being called, Write NOWW LitFest. Celebrated author Angie Abdou (In Case I Go, Between, The Bone Cage) will join the NOWW team for a weekend of readings and workshops that will culminate in the Literary Awards Party/Gala Dinner, where she will be keynote speaker. That night, the winners of the contest will be announced.

“This contest is a way to fuel that passion and drive writers to fulfill their hopes and dreams,” says Wylie with a brilliant smile. “Isn’t that the exciting part about art? The passion that drives creation and expression? I think we’re going to see some big, big things this year, and personally, I can’t wait.”

The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2018, so get your pencils sharpened Thunder Bay and start writing! Write NOWW.

For more information, go to www.nowwwriters.ca, or check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nowwwriters

Heather L. Dickson is a photoshop guru, zoologist and author of 6 novels.

Visit her website at www.hleightondickson.com

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