Malahat Review — Creative Non-Fiction Prize

Creative Non-Fiction Prize

The Malahat Review, Canada’s premier literary magazine, invites entries from Canadian, American, and overseas authors for its Creative Non-Fiction Prize. One award of $1,000 CAD is given.

2010 Deadline

The deadline for the 2010 Creative Non-Fiction Prize is August 1, 2010 (postmark date).

Guidelines

The entry must be between 2,000 and 3,000 words. Please indicate word count on the first page. Please double space your work.
No restrictions as to subject matter or approach apply. For example, the entry may be personal essay, memoir, cultural criticism, nature writing, or literary journalism.

Entry fee required:
$35 CAD for Canadian entries
$40 US for American entries
$45 US for entries from Mexico and outside North America.

Entrants receive a one-year subscription to The Malahat Review for themselves or a friend.

Entries previously published, accepted, or submitted for publication elsewhere are not eligible.

Entrants’ anonymity is preserved throughout the judging. Contact information (including an email address) should not appear on the submission, but along with the title on an enclosed separate page.

No submissions will be accepted by email.

The winner and finalists will be notified via email.

Entrants will not be notified about the judges’ decisions even if an SASE is enclosed for this purpose.

The winner and finalists will be announced on the Malahat web site, with the publication of the winning entry in The Malahat Review’s Winter 2010 issue, and in Malahat lite, the magazine’s quarterly e-newsletter, in October 2010.

No entries will be returned, even if accompanied by an SASE.

Send entries and enquiries to:

The Malahat Review
University of Victoria
P.O. Box 1700
Stn CSC
Victoria, B.C. V8W 2Y2
Canada

Email: malahat@uvic.ca
Telephone: 250-721-8524
Fax: 250-472-5051

Entrants wishing to pay by credit card may download and complete our Credit Card Payment Form then enclose it with their entries.

Previous Creative Non-Fiction Prize Winners:

2009  Judy Copeland
2008 Joel Yanofsky (Won Silver for Personal Journalism at the 32nd Annual National Magazine Awards)
2007 Vaia Barkas

[Photo: cgkinla]

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Internet resources for writers: publicity, grants, submitting

USING SOCIAL NETWORKING TO CREATE A PLATFORM:

I’m not expert on this, but my friend Jill Murray (www.jillmurray.com) is. She’s a Montreal author of young adult fiction, and is super-tech-savvy. She recently gave a talk on how to build a web presence through social networking, and posted her slides on her website. I found the advice there really good. Check it out here. You can find a link to Jill Murray’s website at the right margin as well.

GRANTS:

If you could use some tips on grant writing, check out Mira’s List. It’s a great blog where Mira Bartok gathers and disseminates grant announcements. I’ve subscribed to her email list, and have received a grant as a result of a listing I found there. You can also get to Mira’s List via the link under Grants at the right margin.

SUBMISSION IDEAS:

Though she doesn’t update very often any more, Sarah Wagner Yost’s blog archives give some good ideas as to where to submit personal essays and travel writing. She recommends trying The Smart Set and Modern Love (NYT) for starters. She provides editors’ email addresses and submission guidelines.

[Photo: austinevan]

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The Writing Life

A writer friend of mine asked me recently how I keep going when things aren’t going well, and what I do when I become blocked.

The most useful thing I do when I feel empty is read. I turn to authors whose work I want to emulate: Virginia Woolf, Anne Carson, Assia Djebar, Joan Didion, for example. I try to feel their rhythms and learn from what they do. I also read for content, and try to learn more by following a trail of bibliographies and footnotes. Lately (and weirdly, for me), I’ve been reading anthropologists. Even though these books look nothing like what I write or want to write, a fresh perspective and a hit of learning is always good for a frustrated writer.

Next, when a text isn’t working, I’ll try something formal to shake it up: I change voice from first- to second-person (two of the articles I’m most proud of are written in the form of letters), I change tense, or cut a text up into very small pieces and start rearranging. Often, I do this literally, sitting on the floor with tape and scissors and paper fragments. Proust’s archived manuscripts are apparently full of pasted-in bits that fold out in all directions. It’s a time-tested technique, and there’s something about physically cutting something up that works differently for me than cutting and pasting on screen. It’s easier to see the crap for what it is, and to tease out the good stuff.

Finally, if I have nothing to write about, I do something. I travel, I go in search of something (I’ve written about visiting the Paris apartment building Šimaitė lived in and travelling to an Iowa town named after an Algerian national hero). The journey is a classic frame, and it works for me.

My next trip will be to Siberia to find the village where my grandmother was exiled for seventeen years. What do I hope to find? If nothing else, the sky she saw and the earth she walked on. That alone will give me something to write about.

[Photo by austinevan]

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Writing Lives

For a long time I resisted calling myself a biographer. I didn’t mean to write these kinds of stories, or those kinds of books. But, like all the best things in life (cats, love) — biography chose me. Despite myself, and despite having been trained as a literary scholar at a time when the author was dead, when a writer’s intention didn’t matter, and when the makings of a literary life were beside the point, writing lives was what I wanted to do.

I started by telling the story of an Algerian author gunned down in 1993 in a civil war between armed militants and a dictatorship. He was thirty-eight when he was killed, and had accomplished more than most of us do in a lifetime. His name was Tahar Djaout, and the book I wrote about him is called Silence is Death (his most famous turn of phrase).

Next, I wrote the story of a brave librarian who defied Nazism. She left us thousands of letters and scores of diaries in various languages. I used these to write the book I’m calling Beloved Profession. It’s not out yet, but I’ll let you know when that happens.

Now, I’m working on a third project. It’s a personal story that starts in Lithuania, continues in Siberia, and ends in Canada. I’ll let you know more as that develops.

This blog explores the writing of biography, autobiography and life-writing. I’ll share my understanding of the process, and point to others who I think are doing or have done interesting work in this area. We’ll see how it goes.

[Photo by Martin Marcinski]

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