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

Prairie Fire Press and McNally Robinson Booksellers present the 2023 Annual Writing Contests with $3,750 in prizes!


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 you would like to start reading Prairie Fire as soon as possible, you can send in your entry today!

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: $34


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: $34. 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, 2023 (postmarked by, if mailed). DEADLINE EXTENDED TO December 3rd 11:59:59 pm NOW CLOSED

  • 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 Prairie Fire 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 on our website (via PayPal) by clicking the orange circle below 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 order notes field on the Checkout page the name of your piece and the author name (if name differs from the name on the payment)

2023 Judges

Bertrand Bickersteth

Bertrand Bickersteth

McNally Robinson Booksellers Poetry Award

Bertrand Bickersteth is a poet, playwright, essayist and educator who was born in Sierra Leone and raised in Alberta. His collection of poetry, The Response of Weeds, was a finalist for multiple awards and won the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry, the 2021 High Plains Book Award in the category of First Book, and the Eighth Annual Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry. His writing has appeared in many places including Geist, Prairie Fire, The Walrus, The Sprawl, the CBC project Black on the Prairies, and Biblioasis’s Best in Canadian Poetry 2023. He is currently working on a collection of poems highlighting the history of Black cowboys in western Canada. He lives in Moh’kinsstis (Calgary), teaches at Olds College, and writes about Black identity on the Prairies.

Conor Kerr

Conor Kerr

McNally Robinson Booksellers Short Fiction Contest

Conor Kerr is a Métis/Ukrainian writer. A member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, he is descended from the Lac Ste. Anne Metis and the Papaschase Cree Nation. His Ukrainian family are settlers in Treaty 4 and 6 territories in Saskatchewan. He is from the prairies but currently calls Vancouver home. In 2022 he was named one of CBC’s Writers to Watch.  He is the author of the poetry collections An Explosion of Feathers (Bookland Press, 2021) and Old Gods (Nightwood Editions, 2023), as well as the novel Avenue of Champions (Nightwood Editions, 2021), which was shortlisted for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award, longlisted for the 2022 Giller Prize and won the 2022 ReLIT award. He has a forthcoming novel, “Prairie Edge,” which will be coming out in early 2024.

Jeanette Lynes

Jeanette Lynes

McNally Robinson Booksellers Creative Non-Fiction Contest

Jeanette Lynes is a novelist, essayist, and poet. Her most recent novel, The Apothecary’s Garden, released by HarperCollins Canada, remained on The Toronto Star’s Canadian Fiction Bestseller List through summer 2022. Jeanette’s most recent collection of poetry, Bedlam Cowslip: The John Clare Poems (Wolsak and Wynn/Buckrider Books) received the Saskatchewan Arts Board Poetry Prize. Her personal essays recently won The Constance Rooke Creative Non-Fiction Prize, third prize in Event Magazine’s Non-Fiction contest, and were long-listed in The Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest sponsored by The New Quarterly. Jeanette directs the MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan on Treaty Territory Six.

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 dependent 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.