DEADLINE EXTENDED: The third annual Talking Back Awards is here!

August 18th, 2017     by Julia De Laurentiis Johnson     Comments

UpdatE: we’ve extended the deadline to Monday, September 25 at midnight! Get those submissions in!


Shameless is now accepting submissions for our third annual creative writing contest, the Talking Back Awards! The deadline for all submissions is Monday September 25, 2017 at midnight.

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’re assembling 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 prize winners have been selected.


Alicia Elliott is a Tuscarora writer living in Brantford, Ontario with her husband and daughter. Her writing has been published by The Malahat Review, The Butter, Room, Grain, The New Quarterly, CBC, Globe and Mail, Vice, Maclean’s, Maisonneuve, Today’s Parent and Reader’s Digest. She’s currently Associate Nonfiction Editor at Little Fiction | Big Truths, and a consulting editor with The New Quarterly. Her essay, “A Mind Spread Out on the Ground” won a National Magazine Award.


Canisia Lubrin is a writer whose contributes across genres, including poetry, plays, fiction, non-fiction and criticism. She serves on the editorial board of the Humber Literary Review and on the advisory board of Open Book Ontario. A community organizer for close to two decades, Lubrin is co-artistic director and co-host of Pivot Reading Series, was featured on CBC’s list of 150 young Black women making Canada better and teaches writing at Humber College. Her poetry debut is Voodoo Hypothesis. Lubrin was born in St. Lucia and lives in Whitby.


Catherine Hernandez is a theatre practitioner and award-winning author. Her books include M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book and Scarborough. Find her at her website, on Twitter, and Facebook

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 an upcoming 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 an upcoming 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 18th at the Gladstone Hotel 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:

• Visit here and purchase an entry to the Talking Back awards

• Wait for your confirmation number (it will arrive by email)

• Fill out the entry form found here

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 the 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.

Tags: contest, talking back awards, youth writing

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