Short story/creative nonfiction category

First place: Kirsti Salmi for her story Is that all there is to a fire


Kirsti Salmi is a pin-up and burlesque nerd, body positive advocate, and unabashed cake enthusiast. She attended Carleton’s journalism program but graduated from Lakehead University with an HBA and MA in English. Ever prone to questionable life choices, she is recovering from a career detour into banking. Broke but optimistic, she drove to St John’s to complete writing courses under Lisa Moore’s instruction. She’s not sure how she managed to win a story competition, but she’s pretty stoked all the same.

From the judges
Every once in a while you enter a slow motion universe implosion that keeps you wondering about the protagonist for years after. You wonder, “I wonder how so and so made out? Still alive? Still married? Incarcerated perhaps?” This is that story. Danielle is the small town antagonist who could probably find the cure for cancer if she wasn’t intent on carrying her “untoward” lifestyle choices in such a delicious manner. This was an intriguing read and we hope to read more of Danielle’s adventures in the future. Wow!

Second place: Justin Lam for his story For what it’s worth


Justin Lam is a third-year Carleton University student majoring in English Language and Literature. He grew up in Markham, Ontario and from a young age developed a love and interest in writing. Since coming to Carleton, Justin has taken several writing workshops and has gotten involved in the local Ottawa writing community. He has been published in Passions Poetry Magazine, and Antidote Magazine where he also works as a music and travel journalist.

From the judges
A powerful story from a talented writer.  It tells the tale of an 19-year old man and a 48-year old woman who—each orphaned in their own way—decide to join forces in a large and indifferent city. A modern-day Hansel and Gretel story.

Honorable mention: Nicole Bayes-Fleming for her story The date


Nicole Bayes-Fleming is in her third year of journalism at Carleton, with a double minor in French and women’s and gender studies. Raised in Scarborough, Ontario, she is an incurable bookworm and first began writing stories when she was eight years-old. This is the first time Nicole’s work in creative writing has been published.

From the judges
This piece sang with energy and zing! The pages turned themselves as we read this and this was a piece you wanted to read out loud to the person sitting next to you once you were done. This writer has an ear for dialogue and, just as importantly, the nuances and giveaways we reveal about ourselves when we speak. What a joy to read! Wa hoo!

Poetry category

First place: Susan Atkinson for her poem Half moon full


Susan J. Atkinson was born and raised in England but now makes her home in Ottawa where she spends her time writing, teaching and enjoying the accomplishments of her four daughters. Her poems have appeared in literary journals in the U.S. and Canada, including The Antigonish Review, The Dalhousie Review, Whetstone, The White Wall Review, and Room. 2014 saw the release of her first made-for-TV movie co-written with her filmmaker husband and it also saw the re-print of her highly successful children’s book Where Do Witches Go?” In 2015, she was named one of the Hot Ottawa Voices by the Tree Reading Series. Susan graduated from Carleton many moons ago with a combined degree in English Literature and Film Studies but recently returned to enjoy a creative non-fiction course.

From the judges
This is a well structured and well written poem about grief and how sometimes it can move us into a hope fantastical. The poem is subtle in its play between real life and the imaginary, each image aching with a want for more: more time, more to see, more living. It leaves us with the blank hope of a new moon.

Second place: H. Masud Taj for his poem Prescription

H. Masud Taj

Masud Taj, Adjunct Professor of Architecture, was featured at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto with his book of animal poems Alphabestiary (exegesis by Bruce Meyer). He is currently working on his memoir Wandering Poet: How I Went Halfway Around The World To Recite A Single Poem To A Stranger Who Didn’t Know I Was Coming, And Other Recollections Of An Oral Poet. He has taught “How Architects Die” and his next lecture course is on “How Poets Die.”

From the judges
We loved the unexpected and compact energy of this poem, how each line counts and takes the reader to a new, unexpected complication. The poem not only “takes us there” but leaves us there looking for the malady it is treating. Who doesn’t need a tulip therapist?

Honorable mention: Sacha Bissonette for his poem Acheron


Sacha Bissonnette was born and raised in Ottawa to a Trinidadian mother and a French Canadian father. He completed a BA (Hons) degree in political science at Carleton University in 2014, where his interests were drawn to political philosophy and Greek and Roman studies. He is currently working as a junior policy analyst at Public Safety Canada, spending his free time travelling and exploring creative writing projects.

From the judges
This is a simple poem about memory, nostalgia and grief. All the more powerful for its quietness.

Spoken word category

Honorable mention: Greg Guevara for his spoken word poem Warrior Worrier


Greg Guevara is a 1st year Journalism student who got into slam poetry when he read a poem aloud and someone said “hey, nice slam poetry!” After googling “slam poetry” he decided that even though he wasn’t really sure what slam poetry was he’d just keep calling it “slam poetry” because it sounded less pretentious than “written performance art.” He often tries to put an uplifting spin on darker subject matter. He has what could pass for a blog at

From the judge
An enthusiastic performance on a topic of interest to us all!

2015 Winners

Short story/creative non-fiction

  • 1st place: The Hideout – Robynne Eagan
  • 1st place: Down a Thumb – Zeba Crook

Poetry category

  • 1st place: Rest Stop – Sarah Kabamba
  • Honorable mention: Long Gone Nights of Follies – Margaret Zielinski

Spoken word category

  • 1st place: Perspective – Kim Nguyen
  • Honorable mention: Acid – Rashmi Logasriskandaraj

2014 Winners

Short story/creative non-fiction

Poetry category

2013 Winners

Short story/creative non-fiction

  • 1st place: The Derelict Café – Joanne John
  • 2nd place: From Darkness – Mason Hanrahan
  • Honorable mention: Explorer – Larissa Douglass
  • Honorable mention: The Deal – Renate Williams

2012 Winners

Short story category

  • 1st Place: Something Like This – Sima Qadeer Goss
  • 2nd Place: Devon Boyle – Mason Hanrahan
  • Honourable Mention: How I Met Your Mother – Andrew Riddles

Poetry category

  • 1st Place: Hollywood – Michael Lithgow
  • 2nd Place: Grand-Remous – Ben Ladouceur

2011 Winners

Short story category

  • 1st Place: Ball Hockey – Mal Massey
  • 2nd Place: The Useful Things – Andrew Riddles
  • Honourable Mention: Camper Susan Noakes, BJ/81

Poetry category

2010 Winners

Short story category

Poetry category

Honourable Mention (Poetry):

2009 Winners

  • 1st Place: Truing Kate – by Lesly Bauer, BJ/88
  • 2nd Place: Vocalion – by Andrew Forbes, BA/03
  • 3rd Place: Suzy Q. – by Bruce MacGregor, BAHons/69