Writers who may be the regions’ next literary stars, may be trying writing for the first time, or simply have a story inside that is dying to be told will have the opportunity to shine during the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop’s annual writing contest. The contest officially opened on January 1, 2018 with five categories: poetry, short fiction, historical fiction, creative non-fiction, and the Bill MacDonald Prize for Prose.

“Each year NOWW’s annual writing contest does something bigger and better,” said Jodene Wylie, contest coordinator. “If you’re a reader and a writer — we want to impress you and motivate you to pull out that pen, pull up to your computer and get writing.”

Once again, NOWW is looking to some of Canada’s most celebrated literary figures to judge this year’s contest. General Award winner and parliamentary poet, George Elliott Clarke, will judge the poetry category; Governor General’s Award winner, Ross King, author of Leonardo and the Last Supper, will judge the historical fiction category; Lullabies for Little Criminals author and Governor General’s Award winner, Heather O’Neill, will judge the short fiction category; the creative non-fiction category will be judged by Helen Humphrey, author of Leaving Earth and Afterimage, which won the Writer’s Trust Fiction Prize; and Michael Christie, born in Thunder Bay and author of The Beggar’s Garden, which was short listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, will judge the Bill MacDonald Prize for Prose in Creative Non-fiction.

“One of NOWW’s goals this year was to bring some of the best authors from across Canada to judge our writing contest,” Wylie said. “ The calibre of their writing is outstanding. They’re award-winning, they’re well-published, and they’re iconic. Having authors like them judge our contest is a real honour and such a great way to kick off our contest this year.”

According to Wylie, last year’s writing contest was a huge success with more than 160 writers from across the country, and even the world, entering a piece of work. Despite so much competition, Wylie encourages anyone with a story to tell to enter this year’s contest, saying the NOWW Annual Writing Contest provides writers with an opportunity to express themselves and experiment with new ideas, concepts, and genres.

The contest closes on March 31, 2018 and winners will be announced at the NOWW Literary Gala on May 5, 2018. Full contest details including bios of the judges can be found at nowwwriters.ca.