Open Season Award Winners for 2016

Congratulations to John Pass (Madeira Park, British Columbia), Katherine Magyarody (Toronto, Ontario), and Jennifer Williamson (Edmonton, Alberta) on winning The Malahat Review's 7th annual Open Season Awards in the Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction categories respectively.


Of John Pass' winning poem, "Margined Burying Beetle," judge Russell Thornton says: [The poem] presents a questing biocentric poetic awareness, an intense elegiac tone, and a portrayal in which a creature conventionally conferred little status appears as a potent agent of the creation, 'a writer of a future' offering sacred illumination to a shamanistic speaker who witnesses it 'wondrously / shifting!' on 'plush moss'. The play of language in the piece is open and exploratory and at the same time taut, controlled; the poet here utters quick, quirky changes and rich phrases. There is the 'crabapple / small and scabby of late but in the spring / a clustered mass of port-wine glory above / wild iris.' There is the beetle of the title, 'sinuous / wriggler chevroned orange on black' that 'nudged / the resurrection' [the speaker’s] way in sunlight…' In all its aspects, including complexity of theme, depth of feeling, imaginative movement, and deft lyrical execution, this poem is a marvellous success.

John Pass

John Pass, winner of the 2016 Open Season Award for Poetry. Photo credit: Keith Shaw.

John Pass’ poems have appeared in 19 books and chapbooks in Canada, and in magazines in the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, and the Czech Republic. He won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2006 for  Stumbling in The Bloom (Oolichan Books) and the Dorothy Livesay Prize in 2012 for crawlspace (Harbour Publishing). His latest book is Forecast: Selected Early Poems 1970 – 1990 (Harbour 2015).

Read an interview with John Pass about his winning poem.


Of Katherine Magyarody's short story, "Goldhawk," judge Kathy Page remarks: From the title onwards I felt this brief, pared-down story was a clear winner.  Both simple and ambitious, 'Goldhawk' charts the moment in which its protagonist, Dinara Akhmatova, leaving work at the end of the day, identifies with a raptor and draws strength from the encounter. The writing is fluent and flexible, rich with the kinds of details and observations that ignite the reader’s senses and bring a story to life. There are no pyrotechnics or artificial cleverness, and only the barest elements of a plot, but the story makes Dinara, a mystery to her colleagues, completely alive to the reader. We begin it seeing her from the outside, and end it inhabiting her.

Katherine Magyarody

Katherine Magyarody, winner of the 2016 Open Season Award for Fiction.

Katherine Magyarody is working on her doctoral dissertation on the representation of small social groups in nineteenth-century British narratives of empire at the University of Toronto. Having grown up in a diasporic community, Katherine uses her writing to explore the personal, familial, and cultural histories that we remember, and the inconvenient truths that keep us awake at night. She is working on a collection of short stories and two novel manuscripts.

Read an interview with Katherine Magyarody about her winning fiction story.

Creative Nonfiction

Judge Fiona Tinwei Lam had this to say about Jennifer Williamson's CNF piece, "Light Year": After a milestone birthday party, the narrator in 'Light Year' ruminates about aging and the passage of time. As the night progresses toward dawn, she reviews a rich lifetime of experiences and events, lamenting the inevitable 'clandestine decline' into a period of life where 'stand-by plane tickets have been swapped for discounted bus passes.' Moments of humour and despair are interwoven seamlessly with wide-ranging reflections on mortality. The voice is ardent and questioning, striving to understand what we all face in the struggle against the inevitable. The piece ends as it begins, moving toward the transcendent and sublime.

Jennifer Williamson

Jennifer Williamson, winner of the 2016 Open Season Award for Creative Nonfiction.

Jennifer Williamson worked as an archaeologist in the United States and Canada before settling with her family in Edmonton. Currently she teaches and writes. She has completed a novel based on the aboriginal concept of soul retrieval, and has published stories in 40 Below and Alberta Views.

Read an interview with Jennifer Williamson about her winning memoir.

All three winning pieces will be published in Issue 194, Spring 2016, due out mid-April.

We would also like to congratulate the 2016 Open Season Awards finalists:


Heidi Garnett, Jordan Mounteer, Matthew Hollett, Elise Godfrey, Susan Alexander, Stevie Howell, Matthew Hohner, Marion Quednau, and Jim Roberts.


Robert James Hicks, Sheldon Seigel, Rhonda Collis, Jasmina Odor, John Ballantine, and Manjit Singh.


Kathryn Belicki, Nicole Breit, Anne Marie Todkill, Meira Cook, Suzanne Nussey, and Leona Theis.