The November Prize

College Literary Journal Bands with Creative Writing Contest

by Katie Troyer (Contributor)

This November, Locus, John Abbott’s student-run literary journal, will be partnering with The November Prize, the English department’s new creative writing contest. Abbott students are encouraged to submit poems and short stories for prizes including publication, gift certificates, and their precious fifteen minutes of fame.

The competition accepts student submissions of creative pieces up until the November 1st deadline. While prose or short story submissions have a word restriction of 1000 words, poetry entries may be comprised of more than one poem, but cannot exceed the limit of 100 total lines. Furthermore, aside from publication in Locus awarded as first prize for both genres, the first, second, and third place winners in each category will receive a gift certificate to Montreal’s Argo Bookshop of $100, $50, and $25, respectively.

The November Prize will boost the confidence of
student writers and recognize talent that may go unnoticed, just as Locus has done to date. Riley Simons, who was published in two editions of Locus before assuming the role of editor, understands first-hand how it feels to be a student recognized for her writing. “I think a lot of people like to write, and do so in their free time. All [Locus is] doing is giving those people the opportunity to be rewarded for work that would otherwise not be. There’s a certain satisfaction you get from seeing something you wrote printed for others to see.” Student Ember Morrell, 19, who has taken creative writing classes at John Abbott and writes when she can spare the time, sees the new writing contest as a great way to get students to put pen to paper. “[The November Prize] gives incentive to the […] students to write, which is really difficult to do because, with school, the motivation to sit down and write is limited.”

Simons feels that the new connection between Locus and The November Prize will benefit the magazine, since the latter is teacher-run. “By linking
The November Prize with Locus, I feel like that helps legitimize what Locus is,” she explained. “Since it’s a literary journal run by students, that could make other students less willing to submit their creative pieces. A lot of us don’t like being judged by our peers, but when teachers are involved there’s more of an incentive.”

Harold Hoefle, one of the English teachers spearheading the contest, encourages interested students of all ages and academic programs to enter for more than just the gift certificate. “The prize is feeling like you’re a real writer, because you are a real writer,” he stated. “I would argue that you’re a real writer just by writing something and submitting.” Susan Gillis and Sarah Venart, two other English and creative writing teachers at John Abbott College, are joining Hoefle in the project to promote creative writing at the college. “Everybody is taking it very seriously,” he stated. “We all care passionately about creative writing, and specifically student writing.” The team has even recruited two outside judges – Katia Grubisic, a poetry and fiction writer with a Lampert Memorial Award under her belt, and short story writer Heather Birrell, winner of the Journey Prize for short fiction – to provide input from outside of the academic setting.

Entries can be submitted in a single document in Word or PDF format, with a cover page, to Further information concerning submissions and formatting can be found on the John Abbott Omnivox news page.

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