2022 Festival
October 17–23

2022 Season

Youth Writing Contest

Youth Writing Contest

 

Every year, the Vancouver Writers Fest launches a youth writing contest for short stories and personal essays in spring. These contests are judged by esteemed members of the Vancouver literary community. A total of four cash prizes and publication in our newsletter are awarded each year. Many winners have subsequently had their works published—either by a publisher or in major literary journals.

The 2022 Youth Writing Contest is closed. This year, we organized two writing contests for students in British Columbia: one for grades 5-7 and the other for grades 8-12. The Elementary School Contest was judged by Jamie Fong, the Children’s Librarian at Vancouver Public Library and the High-school Contest was judged by Shannon Ozirny, the Head of Youth Services at the West Vancouver Memorial Library. The winners of the 2022 contest and their winning submissions are linked below.

The next Youth Writing Contest will be announced in March 2023.

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


Contest Rules

1. The elementary school youth writing contest is open to all writers in grades 5-7 who are attending a school or being taught in a home-school environment in British Columbia.

2. The high school youth writing 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.

3. Entries will be accepted for previously unpublished short stories and personal essays: 1,000 word limit (for elementary school student submissions) and 1,500 (for high-school student submissions).

4. Entries are judged blind. Please do not put your name anywhere in the file you upload or in the file name.

5. Entries must be submitted in MS Word (DOC or DOCX)  or PDF formats. Please use standard margins, 12-point font and double spacing.

6. Prizes:

a. Elementary – First prize winner receives $100 and publication in our Books & Ideas Newsletter, plus social media shout-out; Second prize winner receives $50 and publication in our Books & Ideas Newsletter

b. High school – First prize winner receives $200 and publication in our Books & Ideas Newsletter, plus social media shout-out; Second prize winner receives $100 and publication in our Books & Ideas Newsletter

2022 Winners

High School Winners

1st Prize winner: ‘A Final Sonata’ by Claire Hawley (Rick Hansen Secondary School in Abbottsford)

Judge’s verdict: “This short story has it all: a fresh perspective, unexpected villains, dark humour, and a pitch perfect final line. Plus lots of blood. This writer builds up so much suspense in such a short word count and the ending is just delicious.”

2nd Prize winner: ‘The Jar’ by Yolanda Zhang (Southridge School in Surrey)

Judge’s verdict: “This is such a brilliant piece of nonfiction that beautifully weaves together culture, metaphor and a young person’s desire to do their family proud. The writing is so warm, clear and resonant with vivid descriptions of food that rival some of the best culinary writers.”

 

Shannon Ozirny, judge of the 2022 High School Writing Contest, is the Head of Youth Services at the West Vancouver Memorial Library. This was her third year judging the high school contest and this is what she thought of this year’s submissions: “I am so grateful to the writers who took the time to submit their work this year. It was tremendously exciting to read the pieces and be reminded of all the young, local talent that will hopefully grace the Vancouver Writers Fest stages one day. Almost every genre was represented in over 200 entries and I’m confident that several of these writers have publication in their future.”

Elementary School Winners

1st Prize winner: ‘Telephone’ by Stephanie Lajara (St. Matthew’s Elementary School in Surrey)

Judge’s verdict: “Of all the entries, I kept returning to the unexpected story of this telephone and its longing to clearly hear and understand the snippets of conversations and murmurs that travel through its electrical signals. It bears witness but never fully comprehends the comings and goings of the humans communicating through it. Readers paying close attention should be able decipher the important life events being shared through the telephone. There’s a melancholic tone to the story that’s underscored by the near obsolescence of a telephone like this. I appreciated the unique perspective and applaud the author for making me feel feelings about this inanimate object!”

2nd Prize winner: ‘Takaya: The Story of a Lost Wolf’ by Eleni Blackstock (Lord Tennyson Elementary School in Vancouver)

Judge’s verdict: “This was an interesting weaving of fact and fiction, inspired by the real-life story of Takaya, a wolf who lived alone on an island across from Victoria for many years. It has the quality of a timeless fable and the author has done an impeccable job bringing Takaya’s thoughts and feelings to life. Even though I was familiar with many of the details of the true story, I was delighted by the artistic license taken in telling this story from Takaya’s own perspective and the surprising explanation of how Takaya perhaps came to be on that island.”

 

Jamie Fong is the 2022 Elementary School Contest judge, and the Children’s Librarian at Vancouver Public Library. He had this to say about the submissions for the Elementary contest: “Having read almost 150 entries, I’d like to thank all the students who took the time to write and share their stories. I noticed some recurring themes across multiple stories, including war, Covid, friendships, parents, school, and twins (this one surprised me). I feel privileged to have been given this glimpse into the minds of these young writers responding to and processing real-life events through creative writing. The short story can be a tricky medium since the writer has to be thoughtful and economical with their words to tell a complete story in a limited page count. I think the most effective writers find a way to creatively work within those constraints. There were many worthy entries and it was definitely a challenge to narrow it down to these two winners.”