Announcing the winners of the 2021-22 NB Writing Competition!
April 25, 2022 – 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 3, at St. Thomas University, as part of WFNB’s annual WordSpring writing festival, this year to be held in Fredericton.
The program celebrates eight categories of unpublished writing, including the inaugural Jane LeBlanc Screenwriting Award, for unpublished short film script. Seven more categories of novel, short story, single poem, poetry manuscript, books for and by young people, and narrative non-fiction all display a diverse spectrum of writing talent in the province.
The finalists are as follows:
The David Adams Richards Prize for Fiction
First Place – Heather Gunn (Shediac, NB), Her Wilco Years
Second Place – Vanessa Hawkins (St. George, NB) Dante's Inferno: Canto X
Third Place – Richard Toth (Riverview, NB),
Easy Up and Down
Douglas Kyle Memorial Prize
Judge: Hugh MacDonald
First Place— Andrew Campbell (Riverview, NB),
Nail House: 10048
Second Place—Eva Allen (Moncton, NB),The Gift
Third Place—Pat Post (Fredericton, NB) , The Defaulters
Neil Sampson (Durham Bridge, NB), House on Water Street
Sandra Bunting (Burnt Church, NB), Dali's Elephant
Angela Joynes (Columbia, Tennessee), Bandana Girls
The Alfred G. Bailey Prize for Poetry Manuscript
Judge: Trevor Corkum
Amy Murphy (Fredericton, NB ) Cliffs and Piles
Second Prize: Phillip Crymble (Fredericton, NB), The Rowan Berries of Winter
Third Prize: Jane Tims (Rusagonis, NB), persist, perish, escape
Bryn Harris (Grand Manan, NB), The Anthem of the White-Throated Sparrow
The Dawn Watson Memorial Prize for Single Poem
Judge: Leigh Faulkner
First Place: Edyn Clowater (Fredericton, NB), The Story Never Told
Second Place: Shaun Cunningham (Sackville, NB) Grid Road, Saskatchewan
Shari Andrews (New Maryland, NB), Her Open Mouth
Honourable Mention: Shari Andrews (New Maryland, NB) Snow on Evergreen
Honourable Mention: Frederick Mundle (Moncton, NB)
The Accreon Books for Young People Prize
Judge: Orysia Dawydiak
First place-- Betty Sleep (Coles Island, NB), The Caterpillar That Roared
Second place-- Brandi Estey-Burtt (Zealand, NB), The Art of Repetition
Third place--Odette Barr (Petit-Cap, NB), Becoming Canadian
Honourable Mention--Nola Hicks (Midgic, NB), Reach for the Rain
Judge: Lana Button
First Place—Meaghan Whittier (Saint John, NB), Through a Child’s Eyes
Second Place—Tori Garnett (Saint John, NB), Teenage Years
Third Place—Caleb Bulmer (Moncton), The Main Act
Honourable Mention— Simon Hatfield (Saint John, NB), A Desperately Needed Change
The Narrative Non-Fiction Prize
Judge: Sandra Phinney
First place: Trenton Pomeroy (Rothesay, NB), The Dances We Do With Our Children
Second place: Deborah Carr (Hillsborough, NB), Ashes to Ashes
Third place: Duncan Matheson (Fredericton, NB), On The Overnight Train from London
The Jane LeBlanc Screenwriting Award
Judge: Tracey Lavigne
First Place: Sue Rose (Sackville, NB), The Getaway Tree
Second Place—Gordon Mihan (Fredericton, NB) Happy Campers
Honourable Mention— Jeremy Bouchard (Moncton, NB), Two Angels
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.
WHEN: Next year's competition (2022-23) will run from December 1, 2022 to February 28, 2023.
WHO: Open to New Brunswick residents, or to WFNB members living outside the province of NB. WFNB members pay a reduced entry fee. WFNB directors and executive are not eligible.
WHAT: All entries must be original, unpublished works. Entries must not have been submitted recently for publication, 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 (below) you wish to enter.
HOW: While the competition is active, submit your manuscript and payment by clicking the “SUBMIT” link at the bottom of this page. Entries can only be submitted online.
See individual categories (sidebar at right) for entry requirements, including word count. Word count includes titles. Our word limits are strict in each category.
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.
You will receive an email confirming your submission has been received.
How to format and submit entries
Complete and eligible submissions to prize categories must include the following. (Please keep a copy of the complete online submission for your records.)
Prepare your manuscript
Your unpublished manuscript, containing no personal information, must be formatted as follows:
Prepare your cover letter (for office use):
Payment by cheque is payable to the Writers' Federation of New Brunswick. Please mail to: WFNB, 52 Amity Street, Moncton, NB E1G 0S3. Your complete submission and payment must be received no later than the stated deadline.
The Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick does not accept applications that are incomplete, formatted improperly, exceed the word limit, or submitted past the deadline. Entry fees will not be refunded, so please check your application carefully. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the WFNB office prior to submitting your manuscript.
Please note that due to limited resources, we are unable to provide technical assistance such as formatting or attaching documents to email. If you require this kind of assistance, please speak to a friend or family member, or contact your local library branch.
Fees & Payment
Entry fees are as follows:
When you electronically submit your entry (using the Submit Button below) you will be prompted to pay by Paypal or credit card. If you wish to pay by cheque, please choose the category that offers that option. For example, if you are submitting to the Fog Lit Prize category, choose “Books for Young People (Fog Lit Prize) Pay by cheque“.
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.
Judging is blind. Prizes will be awarded (or not) at the discretion of the judges. Judges will provide brief comments for the first-, second-, and third-place winner. We notify all winners in late April and award the prizes at the Literary Soirée during WordSpring. This year, WordSpring takes place June 3-5, at St. Thomas University in Fredericton. Manuscripts will not be returned.
See individual categories for prizes. Prizes will be awarded to first-, second-, and third-place winners in each category. All winners will be invited to read from their submission at the Literary Soirée during WordSpring, where the prizes will be awarded.
Questions? Email info@wfnb.
Submit your Manuscript Here
WFNB uses the Submittable online platform to accept electronic submissions.
David Adams Richards Prize (fiction manuscript)
2022 judge: Thomas Moore
First Place - Heather Gunn, Her Wilco Years
Judge’s comments: This is a fine novel about the well-named Dawn McNutt as she moves through the excitement of early retirement, to boredom, then to new vistas of people and experiences. The story blooms into a poignant picture of a post-career life which captures Dawn's emotional journey. The beautiful imperfection of the characters make a realistic and satisfying read.
Second Place – Vanessa Hawkins, Dante's Inferno: Canto X
Judge's comments: This novel is literate and well written. Ambitious in scope, it mirrors its namesake with great skill. The plot was defined by the original, but the tone and voice are clear and maintained throughout. The writing is fluid and the adventures of the main character are exciting. It offers a modern slant on the ancient question of good and evil.
Third Place - Richard Toth, Easy Up and Down
Judge's comments: This is a great story with fine, believable characters whom we care about. A talented athlete is having self-doubts and difficulties as he grows older. Life and the people around him both help and hinder him recover his winning edge as a golf pro. Well written, this book offers an enjoyable read especially for those familiar with the game.
Douglas Kyle Memorial Prize (short fiction)
2022 judge: Hugh MacDonald
First Place—Andrew Campbell, Nail House: 10048
Judge's comments: This work was brilliantly written and flawless in so many ways. It never failed in its detail or its authenticity. It engaged my interest from the first word to the last. It took me on a journey and presented ideas and pictures all along the way. I understood the characters on all sides and learned of their motives, their history, their personalities, and the pain they endured. This story of development and destruction covered decades of modern history that is common knowledge to the world while covering the consequences of change on art, artifacts as well as wildlife and the lives of generations of people involved. Well done.
Second Place—Eva Allen, The Gift
Judge's comments: This story of human adaptation to changing circumstances and cultural differences was beautifully written, one of the many fine stories I read among these remarkable submissions. I found it lovely and touching and most worthy.
Third Place—Pat Post, The Defaulters
Judge's comments: This was a marvelous collection of believable characters caught in a difficult period of history. Wartime and conscription piled on relative poverty and the pressures of adolescence and social norms blend to produce a complicated and colourful tale of real people.
Alfred G. Bailey Prize (poetry manuscript)
2022 judge: Trevor Corkum
First Prize: Amy Murphy, Cliffs and Piles
Judge's comments: Cliffs and Piles is an urgent exploration of the uncomfortable tension between solitude and intimacy. In a series of finely tuned poems, the poet explores a number of fraught historical relationships (with ex-lovers, close friends, family) that are so sharply rendered—and so full of ambiguous emotion—they come to feel like hauntings. With superbly distilled language and razor-sharp lines, this manuscript’s visceral rhythms mimic the body’s most intimate choreography: heartbeat, stillness, breathing. It’s poetry that lays everything on the line, a collection in which every poem takes risks and makes clear what’s at stake when we write.
Second Prize: Phillip Crymble, The Rowan Berries of Winter
Judge's comments: The Rowan Berries of Winter is an exquisite collection, shot through with clear-eyed nostalgia for what’s been lost, and what could still be taken from us. With an ear for finding language that elevates and infuses experiences of childhood, parenthood, and the rhythms of the everyday with wonder and awe, these poems consider what it is to pass time listening to good music, enjoying a moment of solitude in the midst of the Christmas rush, and relishing the scent of clementines. This is a sophisticated, taut, and entirely engrossing manuscript.
Third Prize: Jane Tims, persist, perish, escape
Judge's comments: The poems in persist, perish, escape imagine the unruly flora of rural New Brunswick as compelling and strategic protagonists in an ongoing period drama that will outlast our own lives. With a hawk-like eye for tiny flashes of colour and motion, and with the patience and scope to consider the long act of a century or more, this manuscript foregrounds the dogged persistence of wildflowers and invasive species of all sorts against the lost civilizations that haunt the overgrown backwoods of abandoned farmsteads and fields. A lush and richly imagined landscape by a poet who demonstrates deep empathy and exceptional craft.
Honourable Mention: Bryn Harris, The Anthem of the White-Throated Sparrow
Judge's comments: The Anthem of the White-Throated Sparrow revels in language and play. In a range of well-crafted poems—taut haikus, layered prose poems—the writer looks closely at aging, travel, and the rich graces of the inner life. The poet’s eye captures the light in Italy, considers the strange bodies of potatoes, and ruminates on the undertow of grief. As a collection, the manuscript asks us to pay attention to the small moments of our lives, and to celebrate the gifts revealed through such attentive and caring discipline. A mature, steady, and engaging work.
Dawn Watson Memorial Prize (single poem)
2022 judge: Leigh Faulkner
First Place: Edyn Clowater, The Story Never Told
Judge's comments: I keep coming back to this poem. It is confessional, the type of poem that might slip into solipsism. It is powerful. It is brutal. It cuts to the core of experience on several levels and forces one to examine the nexus of the one and the many in both the intimate and extended social context. The graphic presentation, particularly the change of typeface at key points throughout the poem, but also the variety of line lengths and spacing, fragments the poem in a manner that effectively reflects the fragmentation of the recounted experience. I found the three lines near the end of the poem — those beginning with “i lied.” and without uppercase — to take me beyond the situation expressed — as poignant as it is —to suggest disintegration and loss in a wider context. This is not at all a pleasant poem, however, it touches on our essential humanness in a meaningful way and is worthy of being read and reread.
Second Place: Shaun Cunningham, Grid Road, Saskatchewan
Judge's comments: This poem is a satisfyingly contemplative example of the life is a journey metaphor. The poet’s tightly controlled language effortlessly draws the reader into both the physical landscape and the mental landscape. This is a simple pause on the journey, but the decision to be made may have significant outcomes. It’s easy to see a connection between this poem and Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” however the prairie landscape provides a different set of symbols to provide intimations of the past, the present, and the future. The abandoned homestead is an appropriately enigmatic symbol, perhaps of failure, perhaps of merely a stage that was replaced by something better. The distant past is there to see, but what came after is unknown, and, in this, parallels the situation of the poet.
Third Place: Shari Andrews, Her Open Mouth
Judge's comments: This is another example — a touching example — of the life is a journey metaphor. The language is simple and natural, yet the images in the fourth and sixth stanzas are powerfully evocative. The linkage of “vulnerability’ and “a pink, naked tongue” opens the reader’s mind to the natural state of the human and serves to emphasize loss on many levels. It prepares us for the contrast between the determination and promise of the child in stanza five and the resignation of the aged mother in the final stanza. This recognition of intergenerational continuity strengthens the impact of the poem. The juxtaposition of the start and the end of life’s journey invites contemplation. Again, I keep coming back to this poem in appreciation of what it offers.
Honourable Mention: Shari Andrews, Snow on Evergreen
Judge's comments: The reality exposed in this poem is something that is very much part of our society — people getting old and needing care. The stark institutional setting is simply and effectively described. The poet’s memory of childhood is in stark contrast to the mother’s loss of memory. However, there is more than loss — there is also hope expressed in that powerfully evocative final line: “And if you wait a bird will always come.” Honourable Mention: One Sighting Poetry is worthy of celebration — poets, too. This poem is a celebration of poetry and an acknowledgement of some of the poets who have contributed to the vibrancy of the New Brunswick literary landscape. The shape of the poem on the page reflects both a central image (stairway) and the movement of the poem “Step above step.” The final “step” brings the poem to a fitting and satisfying conclusion. The limits of our left-to-right, top-to-bottom writing/ reading in English imposes a logical inconsistency on the poem that we need to take as an ironic nod to the limits of language, itself, yet limits that challenge poets to strive to take the next step.
Honourable Mention: Frederick Mundle, One Sighting
Judge's comments: Poetry is worthy of celebration — poets, too. This poem is a celebration of poetry and an acknowledgement of some of the poets who have contributed to the vibrancy of the New Brunswick literary landscape. The shape of the poem on the page reflects both a central image (stairway) and the movement of the poem “Step above step.” The final “step” brings the poem
Accreon Books for Young People Prize
2022 judge: Orysia Dawydiak
First place, Betty Sleep, The Caterpillar That Roared
Second place, Brandi Estey-Burtt, The Art of Repetition
Third place: Odette Barr, Becoming Canadian
Honourable Mention: Nola Hicks, Reach for the Rain
Sheree Fitch Prize for Teen Writers (age 13 to 18)
2022 judge: Lana Button
First Place: Meaghan Whittier, Through a Child’s Eyes
Judge’s comments: Wow! This is a powerful read with strong characterization. The author crafted the twist of the girl’s situation very well, and it gave me shivers. Great job establishing setting, I could see it very clearly. I was intrigued throughout. My heart ached for the mom but her arc was really satisfying as we witnessed her starting the process of moving forward. The arc of the girl was also heartbreakingly satisfying, as she came to her own realizations about her situation, but I did wish for a more peaceful resolution for her. I would suggest the author consider adding a bit more description of the child and of the mom’s appearance. The author did a very good job maintaining character, telling this story very well through the eyes of this child. The voice of both the mom and the child came across as authentic. Congratulations on a great story. This talented author is encouraged to keep writing!
Second Place: Tori Garnett, Teenage YearsJudge’s comments: This is such a powerful poem. I loved it. It was incredibly atmospheric and intimate and it flows very well. I was engrossed in the description and the emotion. It portrayed the transition from childhood to teenage years with gut-wrenching honesty, that showed both vulnerability and strength, and I found myself reading it several times. This author is encouraged to keep writing!
Third Place: Caleb Bulmer, The Main Act
Judge's comments: Wow, there is great tension, suspense and pace in this story. The author does a nice job creating a character I care about. I like hearing the back story of Marcus as well, showing the desperate situation they are both in. The setting is well established, and the author does a great job using minor characters to enhance the feel of the story. I needed a little more description in the action scenes to follow exactly what was happening. Powerful ending that stuck with me. The author is encouraged to keep writing!
Honourable Mention: Simon Hatfield, A Desperately Needed Change
Judge's comments: I loved this story. These are great characters, and I was intrigued the whole time. I love how the author allowed the audience to see the vulnerable wounded side of James, to explain his closed-off demeanour. It made it so satisfying to see the ‘cracks in his armor’ as he had interaction with Edward. I would suggest perhaps condensing some of the reflection and tightening up the action. I am rooting for these two. Such a satisfying ending. The author has a lovely voice and a keen sense of creating character and is encouraged to keep writing!
Narrative Nonfiction Prize
2022 judge: Sandra Phinney
First place: Trenton Pomeroy, The Dances We Do With Our Children
Judge's comments: This writer pens a heartbreaking tale by superbly "showing" vs "telling" and presents a difficult situation with both understanding and grace. Most of the story is rendered in dialogue--no easy feat---yet the conversations between various people in the story invisibly set the scene, are always fluid and ring true. The ending is powerful, insightful and enlightening. Readers will find more than one universal truth in this story. BRAVO!
Second place: Deborah Carr, Ashes to Ashes
Judge's comments: This story is gift with many layers. All are connected yet each layer has it's own raison d' être. The writer also combines strong narrative elements from using vivid scenes and metaphor, to incorporating dabs of dialogue and personal insights. As a reader, I came away with a larger heart.
Third place: Duncan Matheson, On The Overnight Train from London
Judge's comments: The strength of this story is how the writer was able to take me along on what could have been a long boring train ride from Ontario to New Brunswick as if I were sitting next to him--and I was not bored! I could see the transformation that occurred during the trip, and how that experience enriched his life. A simple story, well told.
The Jane LeBlanc Screenwriting Award
2022 judge: Tracey Lavigne
First Place: Sue Rose, The Getaway Tree
Judge's comments: An imaginative and erudite take on how to cope in a modern world of horrors. Each character stands out from one another as a unique archetype. The writer could consider developing the main character Sylvie, who seems to be a sort of modern Everywoman, with a little more specificity of her own. The visual cues that are present in the story are clever and interesting. But I would love to see more visuals incorporated into this script. It reads very much as a stage play, with its dialog-heavy scenes. Even if the elements of the mise-en-scene remain quite spare, the writer could give us more with how they introduce the characters and describe the scenes and the action. It would serve the story well to find a few more opportunities to create events visually instead of relying on dialog. Overall, a refreshing read that will make a compelling experimental short film.
Second Place: Gordon Mihan, Happy Campers
Judge's comments: A sensitive story from the point of view of boys at the age they are being taught toxic masculinity, this script hooks the reader right away by dropping us right into the action. From early on in the script, the brisk visual cues are very clear, which serves the pace of the action very well. The way the script introduces the characters is satisfying but they could be developed a little further with another beat or two, particularly the dominant supporting characters of the Mean Boy and the Boy in Charge. For example, the scene when we meet Boy in Charge telling the kids about wrestling on Friday could be an opportunity to perhaps show him doing something macho that inspires the boys’ (or at the least the Mean Boy’s) admiration. Every line the Boy in Charge says should reveal his character: would he really express weakness to the other boys by saying “I need to get some air”? The end of the story marks an important turning point for the boys in banding together and breaking from their idol’s brutal world view. However, the action of painting over the camp sign does not feel like a strong enough expression of the theme. Perhaps the moment would be more powerful if the boys do something that is a challenge to the authority of the Boy in Charge. Overall, a tight and very readable script with the potential to be a great short film.
Third Place/Honourable Mention: Jeremy Bouchard, Two Angels
Judge's comments: This story immediately creates empathy for its main character and his sense of isolation and confinement. The imagery of the bedbugs is particularly effective at placing us in this character’s world. Adam’s emotional arc seems to be to take a small step towards freeing himself from internalized homophobia. However, the theme is confused by the subplot of the gay legal aid lawyer being a sexual predator, which associates homosexuality with evil. This supporting character could instead provide an opportunity for us to learn more about Adam — for example, did he leave someone behind back home? Why does he have a child’s toy in his apartment? Many countries in the world still criminalize homosexuality and persecute and brutalize gays. Being specific rather than generic with Adam’s nationality could make the story more believable. The film (and script) could present a great opportunity to collaborate with a lead actor who is a refugee or recent immigrant. As with any script dealing with a historically underrepresented community, it would be essential to consult with a reader from the queer community if the writer is not queer, to ensure that this important topic is treated sensitively.