Open Season Awards: Winners for 2017

Announcing the winners of this year's Open Season Contest!

Genevieve Lehr (poetry), "two tarantulas appear in the doorway during a thunderstorm"
Rebecca Morris (fiction), "Foreign Bodies"
Matthew Hollett (creative nonfiction), "Kiki, Out of Focus"

Congratulations to all three writers, who have each won $1,500 prize money. Keep reading for comments from the judges, and to learn more about the contest winners!


Poetry contest judge Sina Queyras had this to say about Lehr's winning poem:

"I chose this poem because I had to keep coming back to it. Because the poem was arresting, but also resistant, not completely determined. It’s also quite simple. There are clear images. Concisely rendered. There is condensed emotion. I loved the idea of the hand as spider. It has an awful truth to it. But why that kind of spider, I wondered? Why tarantula? How does that relate to the rest of the poem’s location, to a mythology (and narrative) of place? I couldn’t grasp that, and it bothered me, but in the end, it was the fact of the poem’s resistance that made me choose it. Because I want a poem to be alive, to be in the process of becoming itself, not a thing already in the past, decoded, known, resolved. And this poem, it’s paused there, on the threshold, and I can’t let it—or it won’t let me—go."

Genevieve Lehr

Genevieve Lehr, winner of the 2017 Open Season Award for Poetry.

Genevieve Lehr is the author of the chapbook The Design of Wings (Running the Goat Press, St. John's NL, 2004), The Sorrowing House (Brick Books, 2004), and Stomata (Brick Books, 2016). Lehr was co-winner of The Malahat Review's 2015 Long Poem Prize. She lives in Halifax.

Read an interview with Genevieve Lehr on her winning poem.




Fiction contest judge Jaspreet Singh had this to say about Morris' winning story:

"Bodies are important. The real strength of this carefully crafted, kaleidoscopic story is not the obvious ever-shifting meaning of 'foreignness,' it is not even how certain peculiar moments make one feel the weight of the world, or how one gets reduced to being 'out of place'—more and more on the margins of the not-so-gentle current of everyday. The real strength of this story is how it conveys with precision a moment in time that makes us become strangers to ourselves."

Rebecca Morris

Rebecca Morris, winner of the 2017 Open Season Award for Fiction.

Rebecca Morris lives and writes in Montreal. She is currently working on a novel set in her hometown of Guelph, Ontario. Find her on Twitter @bexmorris99.

Read an interview with Rebecca Morris on her winning story.


Creative Nonfiction

CNF judge Molly Peacock had this to say about Hollett's winning nonfiction piece:

"Of the six first-rate essays that I was asked by The Malahat Review to read, I chose the gentle but vigorous, quirky and complicated, sparky, metaphorical 'Kiki, Out of Focus' as the winner.  It is a splendid 21st-century Canadian response to that original French thinker, Michel de Montaigne, reminding us that the essay (essaie) is an 'attempt.'  Rather than being 'about' something, 'Kiki, Out of Focus' discovers its subject by wandering.  From a map game, to an old children's book, to an artist who redrew historical maps, to attempting to map the personality of that artist, the essayist falls in a kind of love with Kiki, though 'Nothing happened between Kiki and me.'  It is the very interim process of that 'nothing' that makes this work so appealing.  It's geographically wide-ranging and almost geologically layered, but much lighter in tone--more like the layering of clouds. 'As if the universe is attempting to triangulate the heart of the continent in its own inscrutable way' this writer tracks the internal progress of the 'nothing happened' attraction, where 'Kiki,' we come to understand, 'was a gravitational force passing close enough that she shifted my orbit a little.'"

Matthew Hollett

Matthew Hollett, winner of the 2017 Open Season Award for Creative Nonfiction.

Matthew Hollett is a visual artist and writer in St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador. He makes books and other interactive works that investigate landscape and memory through photography, writing and walking.

Read an interview with Matthew Hollett on his winning creative nonfiction piece.

All three winning pieces will be published in Issue 198, Spring 2016, due out mid-April.

We would also like to congratulate the Open Season Awards finalists for 2017:


Sean Howard, Claire Kelly, Carolyn Nakagawa, Jordan Mounteer, Simon Peter Eggertsen, Kristal Kordich-Crandall, Peter Smith, Lars Horn, Kate Marshall Flaherty, Peter Unwin, Carl Watts, Laura Apol, Rachael Lesosky, Steve Lautermilch, Robert Colman, Kath MacLean, Richard Osler


Barbara Black, Mark Bondyra, Susan Carpenter, Kirsten Madsen, Elisabeth Harvor


Meira Cook, Janie Brown, Robert Finley, Nishe Catherine, E. Alex Pierce