2023 FBCW Literary Contest Winners
December 13th, 2023
Joanna Streetly (at right) won the FBCW Literary Contest Poetry Award for her piece, Ringtone. Streetly’s work is published in Best Canadian Essays 2017 and in anthologies, magazines and literary journals. Her most recent book, Wild Fierce Life: Dangerous Moments on the Outer Coast (Caitlin Press, 2018), is a gripping collection of true stories recounting Streetly’s experiences on the Pacific Coast. Arriving at nineteen, Streetly embraces challenges, from working on diverse boats to guiding wilderness kayak trips. The narratives, ranging from a near-death night swim to encounters with cougars, vividly depict the joys and dangers of living in the wild. Streetly’s compelling storytelling evokes a deep respect for nature, portraying both its fragility and power. Through unflinching self-examination, she unveils the evolving relationship between inner and outer landscapes on Vancouver Island’s outer coast.
“Ringtone builds immediate intrigue with the image/line/metaphor, ‘Morphine is a grey army helicopter coming at me, no clearance’ and continues to layer image after heavy sensory image to add to ‘the weight’ of this poem,” said Judge Kerry Gilbert on Streetly’s winning piece. “The weight is the long poetic line; the weight is the aesthetic of a solid prose block with no white space; the weight is the sophisticated allusion to Gauguin’s Polynesia; the weight is a surprising poetic leap from helicopter to ‘I am a sloth;’ the weight is thematically what puts us in any morphine needing state in the first place. ‘Breathe, a voice says’ but the density of this poem says otherwise, and the reader too is also ‘crushed by a helicopter’ in a poetic act so gorgeous, so gracious and honest, that the reader feels empathy and gratitude for this authentic poem about the human condition.”
Clare Sharpe was the runner up for her piece Jacob’s Ladder in this category.
Angela Kenyon won the Federation of BC Writers (FBCW) Literary Contest award in the Creative Nonfiction category for her story, This Boy.
“In a short space, the writer brings us to a time in her youth when her growing interest in boys competes with her regard of her father,” say judge JJ Lee. “The parallel between her feelings for her father and her adoration of a pop star is clear, and what emerges is a surprisingly loving portrait of the parent. The story is simply told. It’s rooted in the sense of scene and setting. There is an economy in the action which drives the plot. The meaning of the story is in the events rather than through the manipulation of structure (for example leaping flashbacks) or language (where an arch literary device is employed). Here the writer trusts her story. The conflict is one everyone can identify with, and while there is a surprise near the end, what makes the story captivating is the resolution between the narrator and her father. Sometimes you have to stand aside and let a lovely memory tell its own story. The writer did just that. Bravo.”
Fay Roth was the runner up in the Creative Nonfiction Category for her piece, My Heart is a Cedar.
The FBCW Literary Contest Award for Flash Fiction was given to Susan Down for her piece, Three Things I Like About My Cactus. Down was the former editor of the Diocesan Post and has a prominent background in the newspaper industry as a marine columnist and a feature writer.
“This story combines a seemingly mundane list about a plant with the poignant, often heartbreaking journey of a child going through the foster system,” said Judge Dr. Finnian Burnett about Down’s piece. “The list seems simple at first—things I like about my cactus—but the interwoven relationship between the cactus and the events of the main character’s life brings out the story in subtle ways. The author develops the narrator’s voice beautifully, in an almost matter of fact voice—a tone that creates dissonance with the real trauma of the main character and also brings the reader into the world of someone who has had to learn how to suppress their feelings in order to survive. The cactus metaphor parallels the narrator’s journey, often stunning in its simplicity, and always believably seen through the eyes of a child. “A cactus can stay with you,” the narrator writes in their list, and the underlying subtext is that people don’t. This story will stay with me for a long time.”
Linda K. Thompson from Port Alberni was runner up in this category for her piece, Harold and Peg.
Cheryl Knopp was awarded the FBCW Literary Contest Prize for her story, Fear No Evil, in the Short Story category. Knopp is the president of Gibbon Design and Development Ltd., designing and merchandising outwear apparels. She is also a major literary enthusiast. Judge Dr. Norma Dunning said the following on Knopp’s short story: “Fear No Evil was my favourite story. It had action and confusion and shape shifting, and I fell into right away. It felt like western at first but became more. This writer is an experienced writer and has a subtle way of bringing their characters to the reader. I was mesmerized and truly enjoyed every word.”
Tyler Finley was the runner up in this category for her short story, Triumph.
ABOUT THE CONTEST
FBCW hosts their annual literary contest to promote excellence and professionalism in the literary arts in BC, helping to establish communication between writers and interested agents. The winners of all four categories will win $350 cash prize including publication compensation, an interview in WordWorks magazine and a publication in their second Contest Anthology, among other benefits.