Announcing the Winners of the 2023 NB Writing Competition

For Immediate Release

Winners Announced for the 2023 NB Writing Competition – record number of submissions

April 28, 2023 – The Writers' Federation of New Brunswick (WFNB) has announced the winners of its annual New Brunswick Writing Competition. The winners will be celebrated at a literary soiree on Friday evening, June 2, at the Saint John Central Library, as part of WFNB’s annual WordSpring writing festival, this year to be held in Saint John.

The program celebrates eight categories of unpublished writing in the genre of novel, short story, single poem, poetry manuscript, books for young people, and stories by young people, as well as unpublished short film script, and narrative non-fiction. There were a record number of submissions this year in almost every category, creating more difficult choices for the peer judges-who are chosen from outside of the province. They consistently reported that the submissions displayed a diverse spectrum of high-quality writing talent in the province. This also reflects the higher number of Honourable Mentions this year.

The finalists are as follows:

The David Adams Richards Prize for fiction
Michelle Wamboldt

First Place – Zev Bagel (Shediac, NB) for Seeking Isak Lowenstein

Judge's comments: 

I enjoyed the style of this piece.  The writer seamlessly transitions his main character from the present to the past, with just the right amount of information to keep you wanting more. The writer uses carefully selected prose to create wonderful imagery and realistic settings.  I was with the old man in the dinghy, riding the ocean swells, and I could feel his pain as he recounted the past. It is a gift to be able to draw a reader into the heart of a character, and truly make you feel their sorrow and regrets.  This writer has that gift.

Second Place – Ed Lemond (New Richmond, QC) for The Last Thing She Said

Judge's comments:

This piece of writing was polished and exhibited an impressive amount of research. The author’s extensive knowledge of his subject matter creates an intimacy which allows the reader a realistic glimpse into the world of loss and regret.  The literary references, dual story lines and unique story formatting combined to make a stand-out, complex piece of fiction. 

Third Place – Kelly Alcorn (Rollingdam, NB), Grand Manan

Judge's comments:

The writer of this YA novel was able to create a strong lead character who had me rooting for him from the start.  This writing successfully balances emotional crisis and day to day living while portraying a realistic, relatable character. I was not only invested in Parker and his journey to a new life, I was anxiously flipping the pages, hoping for him to find happiness. 

Honourable Mention – Danny Jacobs (Riverview, NB), The Conic Section

Judge's comments: 

The writer has created vivid unforgettable characters that come to life on the page.  A unique and bizarre tale, this multi layered piece stood out in many ways, but it was the language and imagery that truly made it a success.

Honourable Mention – Thomas Chamberlain (Rothesay, NB) Happenstance

Judge's comments:

The intense pace of this story drew me in from the beginning.  With convincing dialogue and a strong narrative voice, the writer has taken an extremely hard subject matter and not only instantly captured the reader’s attention, but has the reader on the edge of their seat. 

Honourable Mention – Jenna Morton (Boundary Creek, NB) Enticed From Home

Judge's comments:

The writer successfully blended fact and fiction to create an intriguing tale. I enjoyed the inclusion of

historical documents and the use of various points of view in this piece of historical fiction set in New


Douglas Kyle Memorial Prize

Judge: Marianne Ward

First Place -- Cheyenne Kean-Lemery (Sackville, NB), The Yellow Door  

Judge's comments:

This highly polished story is a shining gem. The strong, concise opening establishes the gripping premise ("This is my last morning") and the crystal clear character of our first-person narrator ("I had made it through my thirty-first year. That was enough living for me.") The story is shot through with unsentimental, tone-perfect empathy for a woman who is absolutely certain that she's "doing the right thing"—and for the "People of many races and ages and religions" who are with her on the same journey to an assisted death. The author introduces just the right number of tiny, carefully placed "cracks" in the narrator's certainty—and a tantalizing hint of a possible alternate ending for her—that we are left having to come to terms with our own thoughts around assisted death as we ponder the protagonist's final decision. An extremely satisfying, powerful short story. Flawless.

Tied for Second Place —      

Trent Pomeroy (Rothesay, NB), Now That We Can Choose

Judge's Comments:

"Now That We Can Choose" is a masterful study in quietly building tension. The tone is light, in contrast to the "heavy" subject matter, and is entirely in keeping with the central character's thoughtful, eyes-wide-open approach to her own death and her big-hearted sensitivity to the needs of her family. The pacing is bang on, the characterizations effective, the writing economical, and the ending impactful. An exceptionally well-crafted story.

Brent Mazerolle (Moncton, NB) Setting the Hook

Judge's comments: 

Reading "Setting the Hook" is like settling into your favourite comfy chair and listening to a captivating speaker spin a yarn. We're in the hands of a seasoned storyteller, who knows when to inject his story with humour and how to evoke all the senses as he paints a detailed picture of a past time and place, peopled with distinctive and memorable characters. The writer is a master of powerful sentences (many of them "hooks") and clever turns of phrase. A highly enjoyable read that balances the harsh undercurrent that just barely surfaces at the end. Expertly written.

Third Place—Trent Pomeroy (Rothesay, NB), Holes 

Judge's comments:

This very special story stood out for the creative premise, taking a well-worn turn of phrase, a metaphor, and making it literal. It does so in a magical way, both blatant and subtle, that leaves both the reader and the protagonist wondering what the heck is going on. The concept is well thought out, and the execution is extremely affecting. A unique, tender, and thought-provoking piece of writing. After first reading it, I was speechless but for one word: wow. 

Honourable Mention:  Ruth McLean (Riverview, NB), Monday Morning, Rain or Shine 

Judge's comments:

The author has done a skilful job of telling the story from the point of view of a child (the first-person narrator is in Grade Two). The family dynamic—with a slightly obnoxious older brother and loving parents—is sharply drawn, as is the setting, both time and place. The trauma at the centre of the story is buffeted by the mother’s love—just as one would hope.

The Alfred G. Bailey Prize for Poetry Manuscript

Judge: Alice Burdick

First Prize: Agata Antonow (Florenceville-Bristol, NB ) Her Strange Position

Judge's Comments:

“Her Strange Position” is an expansive collection of prose poems that brings history to strange life in living tableaux. The wordplay is sophisticated and the atmosphere melancholy and suspenseful. Danger and beauty are present in these poems, making this manuscript utterly engaging and engrossing.

Second Prize: John McNeil (, NB), Bigfoot at the Lord Nelson

Judge's comments:

There’s a sense while reading the poems in “Bigfoot at the Lord Nelson” of being asked to sit at a kitchen table while a neighbour, who is also a transcendental bard, pours a glass of wine and proceeds to share a transfixing lyric narrative of family and place. There is both play and pain in this manuscript, alongside inventiveness and straight talk.

Third Prize: Ian LeTourneau (Fredericton, NB), Metadata from a Changing Climate

Judge's comments:

“Metadata from a Changing Climate” is a carefully constructed, affecting collection of tightly braided poems. There is a haunting and haunted quality to these pieces, forming nature poems that don’t deny a complicated contemporary frame. The intersection has produced a manuscript full of clear description and a questioning tension.

The Dawn Watson Memorial Prize for Single Poem

Judge: Dr. Sean Wiebe

First Place: Melanie Craig-Hansford (Hampton, NB), My other ride is your Mother

Judge's comments: 

Voice carries this piece. Word choice is precise and colourful. The structure of the poem nicely allows for both an outward and inward look, with the ending well-timed and delineating the unpassable divide. 

Second Place: Heather Gunn (Shediac, NB) Cosmopolitan Magazine says I should be Tangled in the Sheets

Judge's comments:

What a wonderful sense of pacing and escalation in this poem. The aging body is gently prodded and poked with clever line after clever line. The well-timed asides remind us that somewhere back in time there was youth, with a clear opening and closing bracket.

Third Place: Melanie Craig-Hansford (Hampton, NB), The Night I Lost Her

This poem hurts me. In this piece we take a time machine back to one of life's painful scenes in hopes that maybe a fuller understanding can change our present moment. Alas, some losses keep us in the same fog as where we began. Thank you for this wisdom. 

Honourable Mention: Kathleen MacDonald (Saint Andrews, NB) Flakes of Winter

Judge's comments:

If I were to ever take up cross stitching this would be the poem that I would want to put into a wooden frame so my more southern visitors could see what life is like here.

The Quantiphi Books for Young People Prize

Judge: Kristen Butcher

First place, Kelly Alcorn (Rollingdam, NB), Randy the Race Coon

Judge's Comments:

This story has all the elements of a successful picture book. Using the tale of the tortoise and the hare as a jumping-off place, the author has shifted the focus from those two characters to a likeable racoon who outwits them both in another race. In addition to a clever twist on this familiar plot, the writer has used a subplot to explain how the racoon came to have its distinctive markings and how it got its name. The use of repetition as well as the inclusion of a subtle moral mark this story as a modern-day fable. Well done! Good luck finding a publishing home for Randy the Race Coon.

Second place, Leo LaFleur (Saint John, NB), The Black Branch

Judge's comments:

Though readers are told at the outset that this adventure is a dream, they soon become so absorbed in events that they forget. That’s good writing. I was intrigued to see the story told primarily in 2nd person present. That is difficult to do, but I think the author has pulled it off. The imagery is lovely and immediately drew me in.

Third place, Gail Collette (Miramichi, NB), The Climate Changes Terr

Judge's comments:

I sense this is part of a larger work -- a novel perhaps. The groundwork is well thought out. The foundation is solid and provides a good base on which to build a complex story. There are also the beginnings of some strong characters. The author understands how to craft a plot and create scenes. These are vital skills.

Honourable Mention, Odette Barr (Petit Cap, NB), Arrivals and Departures

Judge's comments:

The author of this piece knows how to write, and she has a solid handle on content suitable for young readers. I loved her connection with her younger self -- truly credible and interesting.  The October/68 diary entry is precisely what publishers of YA are looking for.

The Sheree Fitch Prize for Teen Writers

Judge: Hope Dalvay

First Place—Charlotte Upright (Moncton, NB), A Valley of Burnt Skies

Judge's comments:

“A Valley of Burnt Skies” immediately pulls the reader into the middle of an epic battle being waged between two armies. The author’s vivid descriptions of fight scenes, unpredictable plot twists, and cracking pace make for a compelling read. The depiction of the unshakeable bond of three brothers struggling to survive the brutalities of war is, however, its beating heart and what makes the story so memorable. The fantastic worldbuilding and beautiful imagery are truly impressive and have the makings of an exciting potential novel.

Second Place—Grace Pusey (Grand Bay-Westfield, NB), Floopinsbag, Duffelnoth, and Sir George the Scared

Judge's Comments:

There are countless stories of courageous knights vanquishing evil trolls. However, “Floopinspag, Duffelnoth and Sir George the Scared” is not one of them. The author cleverly flips this trope on its head by recounting what happens when an aptly named knight, Sir George the Scared, stumbles upon Floopinspag and Dufflenoth, two trolls seeking the simple life in a beautiful meadow. This story, with its witty banter, zany mishaps, and slapstick humour, is pure delight and is hilariously reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch.

Third PlaceLiam Johnson (Saint John, NB),Winter’s Claws

Judge's Comments:

“Winter’s Claws” tells the story of Askel and Oskar, a father and a son who are travelling through the wilderness to a village. The father is seeking medical help for his son who has fallen gravely ill. The author has crafted a thrilling, fast-paced survival story, throwing a series of seemingly insurmountable obstacles in the way of the two characters. The author wisely balances out the action scenes by taking the reader inside the mind of the father, revealing his fears, doubts, and regrets. “Winter’s Claws” is not only a gripping adventure tale but also an insightful look into a father’s unconditional love for his son.

Honourable Mention—Sarah Hackett (Moncton, NB), Eyes of the Elephant

Judge's comments: 

“Eyes of the Elephant” begins with a girl named Adelaide engaged in a somewhat unusual activity: a staring contest…with an elephant statue. When her mother invites her new boyfriend to dinner, Adelaide stubbornly continues her no-blinking contest. This already awkward situation then goes off the rails, and a shocking truth is revealed. The author expertly escalates the tension and cultivates a growing sense of foreboding. The reader is compelled to reread the story in search of the hints subtly dropped throughout. Eyes of the Elephant, with its Edgar Allan Poe vibe, is a spine-chilling read.

Honourable Mention – Emily Keats (Fredericton, NB) Not So Ugly Duckling

Judge's Comments:

“Not So Ugly Duckling” is a coming-of-age story describing the leap from child to adult for its protagonist, Ruby, a budding ballerina. The timing of such a life-changing event, unfortunately, could not be any worse. Everything seems to be conspiring against Ruby at a crucial ballet audition, and the reader is emotionally invested in whether this relatable, sympathetic heroine will dig deep and grow into herself. The author writes with honesty and humour, creating a captivating story with a surprising, but realistic, ending.

Honourable Mention (Poetry) – Tori Garnett (Saint John, NB) The Blooming Sunflower

Judge's Comments:

The poem “The Blooming Sunflower” is a heartbreaking glimpse into the life of a girl “who grew up too fast.” With unflinching honesty, the poet describes the girl’s inner turmoil and the self-hatred and self-sabotage that plague her. Through the clever use of metaphor, the poet also shows how the girl changes and grows. The surprising reveal at the end of “The Blooming Sunflower” packs a devastating emotional wallop.

Honourable Mention (Poetry) – Awatif Osman (Shediac, NB) Obituary

Judge's Comments:

The poem “Obituary” begins with a profound insight: “I lived a life millions of people died to live.” With raw candor, the poet shines a light on the sacrifices that their sisters and brothers have made—and continue to make—in search of a life filled with humanity. The poet’s greatest desire is for their hearts to be free of fear, “no matter their religion / color / past.” “Obituary,” with its unvarnished message of peace, lingers long in the mind of the reader.  

The Narrative Non-Fiction Prize

Judge: Chris Benjamin

First place: Shaun Cunningham (Sackville, NB), The Werewolf

Judge's comments: 

This is a delightful story about a real-life werewolf--and some other magical flights of fancy from the author's Irish-Canadian family lore, which may be true. Or not. But they were true to the teller and create just the right mystical atmosphere, and sense of tense uncertainty for the reader, for the main plotline about a quiet and lonely man who is bizarrely affected by full moons, and an incident putting the author's mother in harm's way. This nonfiction story is beauti\fully written, appreciative of possibilities while acknowledging the contradictions inherent in any single perspective on true events. 

Second place: Brent Mazerolle (Moncton, NB), My Brothers Dying Young and Other Things that Have Made Me Happy

Judge's Comments: 

From the title onward this narrative was full of surprises, largely due to an unusually appreciative perspective from the author. The writing itself, the delivery of short sentences and paragraphs, set up remarkable twists that felt foreseeable only in hindsight. The author recollects the deaths of two brothers, and the ways in which they saved his life, before and after their own deaths. But at heart, it is an essay of gratitude, for what was, and what was learned from loss. 

Third place: Pat Stafford (Saint Andrews, NB), La Riunione (The Reunion)

Judge's Comments:

This is a beautiful and touching true story about the closeness of sisters, culminating in a trip to Italy taken together as seniors. Many important things are expressed, but much remains unsaid, and still conveyed through subtext and a sense of togetherness. The telling is straightforward, plain spoken, yet there is deep emotional complexity and range in this piece. 

Honourable Mention: Allison Calvern (Ottawa, ON), A Brother, Two Weddings, and a Funeral

Judge's Comments:

This story had the breadth of an autobiography, the fullness of a life lived, and the loves (and disappointments) of the years, all with significant emotional wallop. One big loss recalls another older one. It takes skill to pull together events from different decades in a short space. The author does well with shoes as a symbol of change. 

The Jane LeBlanc Screenwriting Award

Judge: Kaitlyn Adair

First Place: MacKenzie Power (Fredericton, NB), Gin Soaked Bride

Judge's comments:

This script scored highest on all three evaluation points. It not only was formatted appropriately as a film script, but also was written in a way that brought the visuals to life. I felt it had a good story arc and was structured so that the story felt complete in its conclusion. The characters had a mysterious edge that drew me in and the story turned where I didn't expect it. 

Second Place—Todd Fraser (Fredericton, NB) One Hundred Thousand Welcomes

Judge's comments:

This submission could teach the class on how to properly format a film script. Its impeccable formatting combined with a story that was clear, concise and appropriate for a short film made this a stand out project. I enjoyed the questioning nature of this story and its main characters point of view.

Third Place—Jacquelyn Clydesdale (Saint John, NB), The Wonder of it All

Judge's comments:

This story had so much charm and had a top score in the story and applicability. The characters were well thought out and the arc of the script made for a very good short film. The ending was so satisfying and gave a lot of clarity to the actions throughout the film. 

The WFNB congratulates all the winners, and all who submitted to the competition. The New Brunswick Writing Competition began in 1985, the same year as the WFNB's date of incorporation. We’ve held it annually ever since, awarding hundreds of prizes over the decades. Many past winners have since achieved national and international publishing fame. It opens every year on December 1.

Special thanks to our sponsors:

The Kyle Family, in honour of the late Viola and Douglas Kyle of Bathurst, NB
Gwen Martin, Yoho Lake NB, in honour of the late Dawn Watson
Go And Write!


Entries will not be considered until both the manuscript and payment have been received.

  • The entry fee will not be refunded if your submission is ineligible. 
  • All submissions are final
  • Entry fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.

WHEN: The 2023-24 season will run from December 1, 2023 to February 28, 2024. 


  • Open to New Brunswick residents, and all WFNB members, including those living outside the province of NB. 
  • WFNB members pay a reduced entry fee. 
  • WFNB directors and executive are not eligible.


  • All entries must be original, unpublished works. 
  • Entries must not have been accepted for publication, or previously published in magazines, online magazines, blogs, other online publications, or in self-published works. 
  • For detailed guidelines, see the specific category under "Submission Categories" above


  1. Review the submission category guidelines before submitting (word limits are strict in each category)
  2. Prepare your submission (see Writing Competition Format)
  3. Wait for the competition to open on December 1
  4. Go to the WFNB Writing Competition page (this one!)
  5. Select the category you're submitting to
  6. Click the "Add to Cart" button
  7. Complete the checkout process
  8. Reply to your payment receipt email and attach your submission and cover letter, or send your attachments in a separate email to


  • We notify all winners in early May. 
  • All winners will be invited to read from their submission at the Literary Soirée during WordSpring, where the prizes will be awarded. 
  • Judges will provide brief comments for the first-, second-, and third-place winner.


  • Submit as many texts as you wish in one or all categories. 
  • Each text may be submitted to only one category. 
  • You must complete a separate entry and pay the entry fee for each manuscript entered.
  • Judging is blind. Prizes will be awarded (or not) at the discretion of the judges.

© 2021 Writers' Federation of New Brunswick

Territorial Acknowledgement

The Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick acknowledges that the land on which we live, work and gather is the traditional unceded territory of the Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) and Mi’kmaq Peoples, and we honour the spirit of our ancestors’ Treaties of Peace and Friendship.

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