Open Season Awards: Winners for 2018

Announcing the winners of this year's Open Season Contest!

Barbara Pelman (poetry), "Nevertheless"
Jann Everard (fiction), "Blue Runaways"
B. A. Markus (creative nonfiction), "How Can a Dog Help a Goose"

Congratulations to all three writers, who have each won $2,000 in prize money. Keep reading for comments from the judges, and to learn more about the contest winners!


Poetry contest judge Evelyn Lau had this to say about Pelman's winning poem:

"I chose 'Nevertheless' for its incantatory rhythms, the deft way it shifts between gratitude and grief, and its rapt attention to the fleeting moment. In this glosa, the poet honours the work of W. S. Merwin while juxtaposing personal memory and experience against a growing list of what has become 'vulnerable, threatened, extinct.'  This is a poem that begs to be read aloud, whose gorgeous images sing.  While recognizing that 'nothing lasts,' and the planet's future may be a dark one, the poet celebrates the ordinary miracles that light our days."

Barbara Pelman

Barbara Pelman, winner of the 2018 Open Season Award for Poetry.

Barbara Pelman is a retired English teacher who divides her time between her home in Victoria and her family in Sweden.  She has three books of poetry: “One Stone” (Ekstasis Editions 2005), “Borrowed Rooms” (Ronsdale Press 2008), “Narrow Bridge” (Ronsdale 2017), and a chapbook, “Aubade Amalfi” (Rubicon Press 2016).

Read an interview with Barbara Pelman on her winning poem.




Fiction contest judge Carleigh Baker had this to say about Everard's winning story:

"'Blue Runaways' is a story about loss and loneliness and yes, that other l-word, told in unfussy, economical prose that feels utterly appropriate for its Icelandic setting.  
Liv, an art teacher and the "dóttir of the house," is both searingly blunt and heart-meltingly vulnerable—an unusual guide for the protagonist, who is dealing with depression after losing her arm in an accident. The combination of no-BS wisdom (“You only need one hand to give the finger”) and land-based knowledge the story offers will stay with me for years to come. There's also a marked lack of grandeur in the story's aesthetic—instead the author opts for the gritty honesty of frying onions and sideways rain, making the relationship that grows between these two characters truly and uniquely beautiful. "

Jann Everard

Jann Everard, winner of the 2018 Open Season Award for Fiction.

Jann Everard’s short fiction and creative nonfiction have been published in Canadian and American journals including Grain, The Fiddlehead, The Los Angeles Review, Whitefish Review, Room, and FreeFall. A frequent visitor to the West Coast and the Rocky Mountains, Jann is at home in a tent, a kayak, and a canoe. She lives in Toronto and works part-time in research ethics. 

Read an interview with Jann Everard on her winning story.


Creative Nonfiction

CNF judge Betsy Warland had this to say about Markus' winning nonfiction piece:

"'How Can a Dog Help a Goose' is a tour de force, written in the apt and refreshing form of a fairy tale, set in a classroom. This piece had me doing something I rarely do—laughing out loud at its deft characterizations of dog-settler insistence and goose-indigenous resistance. Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. We watch dog’s mind enthusiastically loop around again and again with strategies to make goose assimilate. Goose (not being a dog) foils dog’s enthusiastic teaching mission. Goose remains goose. Dog’s various stock clichés—perpetuating this societal stalemate—are written with wit and acuity. Laughter arises, then insight."

B. A. Markus

B. A. Markus, winner of the 2018 Open Season Award for Creative Nonfiction.

B. A. Markus is a writer, teacher and performer who was born in Toronto, ran away to a remote island in BC and is now living in Montreal. She is an award-winning creative nonfiction writer, a Grammy- and Juno-nominated songwriter, and her reviews, essays and stories can be found in anthologies and publications such as Carte Blanche, Queen's Quarterly and The Montreal Review of Books. She tells stories live at the Confabulation and The Yarn storytelling events and is currently writing a collection of monologues entitled, "What Mommy Needs," about what mothers do to survive the realities of mothering. 

Read an interview with B. A. Markus on her winning essay.

All three winning pieces will be published in Issue #202, Spring 2018, circulating mid-April.

We would also like to congratulate the Open Season Awards finalists for 2018:


James McKee, Pamela Porter, Sneha Madhavan-Reese, Matthew Hollett, George Lang, Steve Lautermilch, Tess Liem, Joanna Lilley, Mollie Coles Tonn


Lisa Metrikin, Sophie Linnea Stocking, Sheldon Seigel, Neil McKinnon, Sadi Muktadir, Michael Sascha Matuszak, Catriona Wright


Alia Luria, Karl Meade, Erin MacNair, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Heather Ramsay