Youth Writing Contest

The Vancouver Writers Fest’s annual youth writing contest is held in spring every year and is open to all students enrolled in grades 8-12 in British Columbia. The 2021 contest is now closed. Thank you for your interest. The first and second place winners receive cash prizes of $200 and $100, respectively, and will also be published in our online newsletter, Books & Ideas, which has a readership of over 14,000. Please read the Contest Rules before submitting your application!

Shannon Ozirny, the Head of Youth Services at the West Vancouver Memorial Library, will return as our judge for this year’s submissions. Ozirny has taught a children’s materials course as an adjunct at the UBC iSchool, reviewed young adult books for The Globe and Mail and contributes regularly to Quill & Quire as a feature reviewer of picture books. She has served as a juror for the BC and Yukon Book Prizes, Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books and Odyssey audiobook awards and moderates kidlit events for the Vancouver Writers Fest and Kidsbooks.

2021 Winners

1st Prize:

Coagulation: A Tale of Leeches, Mummies, and Drag Queens, by Bella Berry (Dover Bay Secondary School)
Judge’s verdict: “The first paragraph of this personal essay is perfection and the rest of the work is just as good as the set-up. This is a smart, darkly funny, self-aware account of the journey to self-acceptance in the early part of high school. It’s tough to convey such a meaningful emotional transformation in a limited word count, but this writer makes it totally believable and entertaining with their skillful use of metaphor.”

2nd Prize:

Bite Your Tongue, by Ava Palansky (Elgin Park Secondary School)
Judge’s verdict: “I could not stop thinking about this underappreciated dentist. What begins as a seemingly benign story about everyday vocational frustrations spirals into a sinister comedy that keeps you on the villain’s side right to the very end (and the last line actually made me jump). It’s ridiculous, addictive, macabre fun and I want a whole novel about Dr. Goodman.”

Contest Rules:

1. The contest is open to all writers in grades 8-12 who are attending a school or being taught in a home-school environment in British Columbia.

2. Entries will be accepted for previously unpublished short stories and personal essays: 1,500 word limit.

3. Entries are judged blind. Please do not put your name on your story, in the file you have uploaded or in the file name.

4. Entries must be submitted in MS Word or PDF formats. Please use standard margins, 12-point font and double spacing.

5. The deadline for submissions is May 31, 2021.

The 2021 contest is now closed. 

Sign-up here for more information on the Vancouver Writers Festival youth programs.

The Youth Writing Contest is presented thanks to the generous support of Emily Carr University of Art + Design.