*DEADLINE EXTENDED* Announcing the First Annual Talking Back Awards!

July 29th, 2015     by Sheila Sampath     Comments

Illustration: Erin McPhee



Shameless is now accepting submissions for our very first creative writing contest, the Talking Back Awards! The deadline for all submissions is Monday, September 7 2015 at midnight.

We gratefully acknowledge our sponsors, Fernwood Publishing, Groundwood Books, The Association of Canadian Publishers, Anne McClelland, and Invisible Publishing! Additional sponsorship opportunities are available. Please contact our publisher for more information.

What is Shameless?

Shameless is an independent, volunteer-run, grassroots magazine for teen girls and trans* youth. We are a fresh alternative to typical teen magazines, packed with articles about arts, culture and current events, reflecting the day-to-day realities of diverse youth. We work from a place of social justice and anti-oppression (sometimes called “equity”), and, through words and images, on paper and online, we aim to inspire, inform and advocate for young women and trans* youth.

If you’ve never read Shameless before, feel free to check out our website, where you can read our blog and even buy some back issues to see the sorts of things we publish.

Who can submit work?

We’re looking for work from 13-19 year olds who identify as teen girls or trans* youth.

What can I submit?

Write what you want! We’re looking for all kinds of your creative work, no matter the genre. There are three streams to our contest: Poetry, Short Fiction, and Creative Non-Fiction. We are accepting one submission per person per category. The maximum word count is 2,000 words for each entry. There is no minimum!

Who is going to read my work?

We have assembled a super-sweet panel of three judges who are going to read all entries. The judging process will be anonymous, which means that your names will be temporarily removed from your entries and no one will know who you are until after the prizewinners have been selected.

Souvankham Thammavongsa

Souvankham Thammavongsa has written three poetry books, Light (2013), Found (2007), and Small Arguments (2003). Of her most recent collection, The Globe and Mail said “[t]his new collection confirms Thammavongsa’s place as one of the most interesting younger poets at work in the country,” and the Trillium Book Award jury, awarding her the prize for poetry, called the collection “a landmark in contemporary poetry.” Her first book won a ReLit prize. Her second book was made into a short film by Paramita Nath and screened at film festivals worldwide including TIFF, L.A. Shorts Fest, Dok Leipzig and other places. In 2015, her story “How to Pronounce Knife” was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Anupa Mistry

Anupa Mistry lives in Toronto and writes about arts, culture and communities. Her work has been published in many major Canadian and international publications such as The Globe & Mail, FLARE, New York Magazine, The Guardian, Pitchfork, The Hairpin, Hazlitt and more. She is a graduate of Humber College’s post-graduate journalism diploma program and received her B.A. with a focus on international development from the University of Toronto.

Emily Pohl-Weary

Emily Pohl-Weary is an award-winning author, editor and arts educator from Toronto. Her latest book is Ghost Sick, a collection of poetry. Her previous books include the young adult novel Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl, a Hugo Award winning biography, a female superhero anthology, a poetry collection and a girl pirate comic. She’s currently working on a new novel.

What’s the prize?

Good question. There will be a first and second place winner in each category (fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction!)

The Talking Back Gold first place winner in each category will be published in a 2016 issue of Shameless, and on the Shameless blog and receive an honorarium of $200 CAD

The Talking Back second place winner in each category will be published in a 2016 issue of Shameless, and receive an honorarium of $100 CAD

PLUS all six winners will be invited to do a special reading at the Shamies Gala, an annual celebration of Shameless and the youth voices in the magazine. The event will take place on October 16th at OCAD University in Toronto. If you’re from outside the Greater Toronto Area and can’t make it to the Shamies, you will be invited to submit a video of your reading.

How do I submit? Does it cost money?

The Talking Back awards cost $15 to enter and come with a free one-year subscription to Shameless magazine. You can enter up to one entry per category.

To enter:

If, for any reason, you are not able to pay the $15 entry fee, please email us at for a subsidy code.

Thank you for entering our first ever Talking Back Awards and letting us read your writing! We’ll be getting back to each of you in early October. We understand that submitting your creative work can sometimes be a scary and intimidating process and we promise to treat your words very gently.

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