McNally Robinson Booksellers Poetry Award, Short Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction Contests

Prairie Fire Press and McNally Robinson Booksellers present the 2022 Annual Writing Contests with $3,750 in prizes!

The 2022 contests are now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered!

Although our deadline is November 30 (postmarked, if mailed), you may submit anytime. By entering our contests you have a chance to win:  


  • Cash prize
  • An invitation to THIN AIR either in-person or virtually (produced by the Winnipeg International Writers Festival, subject to festival funding)
  • Publication in Prairie Fire‘s summer issue
  • With your contest submission you’ll receive a one-year subscription to Prairie Fire, so if would like to start reading Prairie Fire as soon as possible, you can send in your entry today!

The 2022 contests are now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered!

Entries by email are accepted. Please email submission to and pay via PayPal or by phoning in a credit card immediately before or after submitting your entry.

Entry Fee: $32

Entries by email are accepted.


Prizes are awarded in each of the three categories and winning entries are published in Prairie Fire:

1st prize $750
2nd prize $350
3rd prize $150

Contest Rules

  • Entry fee: $32. This entitles you to a one-year (4 issues) subscription to Prairie Fire magazine. If you are emailing your submission, please send to and pay via PayPal or by phoning in a credit card immediately before or after submitting your entry. 
  • One fiction entry consists of one story, maximum 5,000 words.
  • One poetry entry consists of up to three poems, maximum length of your poetry submission should not exceed 150 lines, regardless of whether you are sending 1, 2 or 3 poems. 
  • One creative non-fiction entry consists of one piece, maximum 5,000 words.
  • Submitting Fiction or Creative Non-Fiction? Please state which category you are entering.
  • Deadline for all contest entries: November 30, 2022 (postmarked by, if mailed).
  • Enclose a cover sheet with your name, pronouns, address, telephone number, email address, the title(s) of your piece(s) and word count (prose) or line count (poetry). Please do not identify yourself on the actual piece(s) you are entering.
  • Your entry must be typed on 8 1/2″ x 11″ white paper and clipped, not stapled. Prose must be double-spaced. No faxed submissions, please. Emailed submissions accepted. See “Emailed Submission Info” in “Payment & Submission Info” section.
  • Please include page numbers and the title of your piece on every page of your submission.
  • Only winning entrants will be individually notified of results. Results will be posted on the PF website and social media in mid-late January.  
  • Each piece must be unpublished, not submitted elsewhere for publication or broadcast, nor accepted elsewhere for publication or broadcast, nor entered simultaneously in any other contest or competition for which it is also eligible to win a prize.
  • You may enter as often as you like; only your first entry in each category will be eligible for a subscription.
  • On occasion, Prairie Fire Press makes subscriber names and addresses available to external organizations. If you do not wish to receive such mailings, please state this clearly on your cover sheet.
  • Winning pieces will be published in the summer issue of Prairie Fire, with authors paid for publication.
  • International submissions accepted.

Payment & Submission Info

If paying by cheque or money order: Please send a hard copy, along with payment to:

Prairie Fire Contests
423-100 Arthur St.
Winnipeg, MB R3B 1H3

If paying by credit card or PayPal:
Please email submission to and pay via PayPal or by phoning in a credit card immediately before or after submitting your entry.

Emailed Submission Info:

  • Please have “Contest Entry: [Category] [Name]” as your subject line. Example: Contest Entry: Poetry Joe Smith
  • You must follow all applicable contest rules when submitting your entry via email
  • Please state in the PayPal Notes field the name of your piece and the author name (if name differs from the name on the payment)

2022 Judges

Sheri Benning

Sheri Benning

McNally Robinson Booksellers Poetry Award

Sheri Benning grew up on a farm in central Saskatchewan. She’s the author of Field Requiem and The Season’s Vagrant Light: New & Selected Poems both published by Carcanet Press, as well as Thin Moon Psalm (Brick Books) and Earth After Rain (Thistledown Press). Her poetry has appeared in North American and European journals and anthologies, most recently Brick, The Paris Review, Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Review, PN Review, Prairie Fire and Grain.
David A. Robertson

David A. Robertson

McNally Robinson Booksellers Short Fiction Contest

David A. Robertson (he, him, his) was the 2021 recipient of the Writers’ Union of Canada Freedom to Read Award. He is the author of numerous books for young readers including When We Were Alone, which won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and the McNally Robinson Best Book for Young People Award. The Barren Grounds, the first book in the middle-grade The Misewa Saga series, received a starred review from Kirkus, was a Kirkus and Quill & Quire best middle-grade book of 2020, was a USBBY and Texas Lone Star selection, was shortlisted for the Ontario Library Association’s Silver Birch Award, and was a finalist for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award. His memoir, Black Water: Family, Legacy, and Blood Memory, was a Globe and Mail and Quill & Quire book of the year in 2020, and won the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction as well as the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award at the 2020 Manitoba Book Awards. On The Trapline, illustrated by Julie Flett, won David’s second Governor General’s Literary Award and was named one of the best picture books of 2021 by the CCBC, The Horn Book, New York Public Library, Quill & Quire, and American Indians in Children’s Literature. Dave is the writer and host of the podcast Kíwew, winner of the 2021 RTDNA Praire Region Award for Best Podcast. He is a member of Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg.

Gillian Sze

Gillian Sze

McNally Robinson Booksellers Creative Non-Fiction Contest

Gillian Sze is the author of multiple poetry collections and picture books. Her poetry has been nominated for the QWF’s A. M. Klein Prize for Poetry, as well as received awards such as the University of Winnipeg Writers’ Circle Prize and the 3Macs carte blanche Prize. Gillian studied creative writing and received a PhD in études anglaises from Université de Montréal. Her latest book, Quiet Night Think (ECW Press, Apr. 2022), is a collection of poems and essays that explores the early shaping of a writer, the creative process, and motherhood.

Contest Sponsors & Supporters


Soon after McNally Robinson Booksellers opened its store in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village in the mid-eighties, Prairie Fire began to hold launches and readings there. McNally Robinson sold Prairie Fire on its newsstand and, occasionally, advertised in PF’s pages. Over the next several years, Holly and Paul McNally showed themselves to be great friends of local writing by establishing the Award for Manitoba Book of the Year, which was the precursor to the many awards that today comprise the Manitoba Book Awards.

The current owners, Chris Hall and Lori Baker have generously kept up the tradition. McNally Robinson Booksellers Writing Contests were launched in 2004 and have continued successfully ever since.

Moving forward from 2022 onwards, McNally Robinson Booksellers will be the official sponsor of all three of our yearly writing contests. 

Winnipeg International Writers Festival

Prairie Fire Press has collaborated with the Winnipeg International Writers Festival to bring the first-prize poetry winner to Winnipeg to appear at Thin Air, its annual literary festival hosted each September. This collaboration between PF and WIWF has gone on for more than twenty years, and we are grateful for their generosity and support. It greatly enhanced the overall enjoyment of winning the Banff Centre Bliss Carman Poetry Award for each of those writers, and gave us the opportunity to meet them.

Back in the ’90s, when Prairie Fire had just begun to run contests, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity supported the first-prize poetry winner with a contribution of $500 and a replica of Bliss Carman’s turquoise ring, which is how the Banff Centre Bliss Carman Poetry Award came to be. A couple of years ago, Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity decided that it was more integral to who they were to offer a one-week residency for a period of three years. That time has now come to a close and we are grateful to Banff Centre for all the years of support.

And, we’re thrilled that our collaboration with WIWF will continue and that in future, all first-prize winners may be invited to attend Thin Air, either in person or virtually. The fulfilment of that dream is always dependant on funding, but we are grateful to be continuing our partnership with WIWF and look forward to future collaborations.

Manitoba Arts Council

Prairie Fire Press acknowledges the financial assistance of the Manitoba Arts Council and the Sustainability Grant for providing the prize money for the 2021 contests.  We give our thanks to MAC and the Sustainability Grant for providing assistance during this time of financial uncertainty.