Open Season Awards—meet the judges

Kayla Czaga—poetry judge

Kayla CzagaKayla Czaga is the author of three collections of poetry: For Your Safety Please Hold On (Nightwood Editions, 2014), which won The Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for poetry; Dunk Tank, which was nominated for the BC & Yukon Book Prizes’ Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize; and Midway, forthcoming from House of Anansi in 2024. Recent writing has appeared in The Fiddlehead, CV2, Room Magazine, and Best Canadian Poetry in English 2024. She is the online poetry mentor for SFU’s The Writer’s Studio.
[photo credit: Erin Flegg]

Michelle Poirier Brown—creative nonfiction judge

Michelle Poirier BrownMichelle Poirier Brown is a writer and performer living on unceded syilx territory in Vernon, BC. She is nêhiyaw-iskwêw and a citizen of the Métis (Michif) Nation. In 2022, she published You Might Be Sorry You Read This (University of Alberta Press) and was named a Writer to Watch by CBC Books. Her book is shortlisted in the Robert Kroetsch Award for Poetry and is a finalist for the SCWES Book Awards for BC Authors in two categories, Poetry and Indigenous Voices. Her prose has appeared in The Malahat Review, Release Any Words Stuck Inside of You II, The Fieldstone Review, The Sun, and the anthologies Dis(s)ent and Don’t Tell: Family Secrets by Demeter Press and she has appeared several times on The Flame stage. Michelle’s essay “The Amnio Journal” was a 2021 Malahat Review nomination for a National Magazine Award in the Personal Journalism category.

Deepa Rajagopalan—fiction judge

Deepa RajagopalanDeepa Rajagopalan won the 2021 PEN Canada New Voices Award for her short story “Peacocks of Instagram.” Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in literary magazines such as Room Magazine, The Malahat Review, Arc Poetry Magazine, EVENT magazine, The Quarantine Review, and the anthology The Unpublished City Vol. II. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph, and a certificate in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies.

Born in Saudi Arabia, Deepa moved to India as an adolescent, and later to the United States and Canada in her twenties. She works in management consulting in the tech industry.

Her first book of short fiction, Peacocks of Instagram, is forthcoming from Astoria/House of Anansi in 2024. She is now working on her first novel, We Have Come Empty Handed, about a disparate group of Indian workers in Saudi Arabia, whose lives become entangled, caught in the exigencies of war, deception, and intolerance.