The winners of the Days Road Writers' Workshops "Summer Days" Memoir Writing Contest were announced last night, September 17, 2008, at the Memoir Writers Social in Unionville, Ontario. There were 31 submissions in all, most from Ontario, a few from other provinces, two from the U.S. and one from England.
First-prize winner Mary McIntyre of Stouffville was awarded $75 plus an author-signed copy of A Memoir of Friendship: The Letters Between Carol Shields and Blanche Howard, for her beautifully descriptive story "Scugog at Dark," a childhood memory of time at her family's cottage.
Second-prize winner Tiina Heathcock of Dorset was awarded $50 for "The Journey," a poem she wrote to come to terms with the loss of her Estonian homeland after the Russian invasion. Her mother, father and she -- only an infant at the time -- escaped, but her father died shortly after their move to Canada.
Both winners read their winning entries before an audience of about 40 people who gathered for an evening to celebrate memoir writing and to raise funds for the Alzheimer Society of Toronto. (More about the event in an upcoming post.)
A couple of judges' comments about Mary McIntyre's winning story:
"She really managed to transport me to her childhood as well as parts of my own. A very charming aspect of the story is its simplicity. It’s not a trip to Disney World or some other grand event; it’s a small, almost-everyday event, and yet it’s so special through the eyes of a child. I love the innocence of that. Some of the images/use of language that struck me as particularly wonderful"
"This story makes me feel like I am toasting marshmallows, while inhaling the smells of campfire and Muskol. It reminds me of grandparents, summertime, trips in the car away from home and the grand perceptions of small children. I found the story to be beautifully written, simple but layered and with a touch of bittersweet longing. Well done."
Honourable mentions in the memoir writing contest went to Tony Kicinski of Markham for his story "Freedom," and to Mike O'Connell of Kingston for his story "St. Lawrence River."
The prize-winning entries (1st and 2nd) will be published on this site within the next few days.
Congratulations Mary, Tiina, Tony and Mike!
Thanks go out to judges Cathy Witlox, freelance editor and U of T grammar instructor, Stacey Lynn Newman, novelist and former owner of Wingate Press, and Cheryl Andrews, adult educator, for taking the time to read and evaluate submissions.