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The Fiddlehead's Annual Contest

The Fiddlehead’s 2020 Creative Nonfiction Contest is now open!

$2000 CAD for Best Creative Nonfiction Essay! 

Good luck to all entrants. This year's contest deadline is Monday, June 1, 2020 (postmarked for mailed entries and 11:59 pm Atlantic Standard Time for Submittable entries). Our judge this year is Ariel Gordon! 

Ariel Gordon is the Winnipeg-based author of the poetry collections with Palimpsest Press, Hump and Stowaways, both of which won the Lansdowne Prize for Poetry. Recent projects include the anthology GUSH: menstrual manifestos for our times (Frontenac House, 2018), co-edited with Tanis MacDonald and Rosanna Deerchild, and the fourth installment of the National Poetry Month in the Winnipeg Free Press project. Her latest book is Treed: Walking in Canada’s Urban Forests (Wolsak & Wynn, 2019), a collection that crosses science writing with the personal essay while walking under — and considering our relationship to — trees. Treed has been nominated for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Awards  at the Manitoba Book Awards (the winner will be announced on Friday May 15) and was given an honorable mention for the 2020 Alanna Bondar Memorial Book Prize for the Environmental Humanities and Creative Writing.

Picture of Ariel Gordon
Photo credit: Mike Deal

Contest General Rules and Information: 

  • Entries must be original and unpublished. No simultaneous submissions and no previously published (or accepted for publication) submissions. This means that an entry must not be under consideration elsewhere for publication, nor accepted elsewhere for publication, nor entered in any other contest. Work that has appeared on the internet (e.g., online magazines, blogs, or social media sites) is considered published for the purposes of this contest and is ineligible.
  • An entry must be the original work of the person who is submitting it and the name and contact information provided must be the author’s. Contest entries should be submitted under the author’s real name. If you use a pseudonym for your published works, you will have a chance to inform the editor of this should your work be selected by the judges.
  • All entries must be submitted by mail or via Submittable. This year's contest deadline is Monday, June 1, 2020 (postmarked for mailed entries and before June 1, 11:59 pm Atlantic Standard Time for Submittable entries ). No faxed or emailed submissions are allowed.


  • No revisions or changes may be made to an entry once you have submitted it. So please carefully check your entry before you enter it into the contest.
  • All entries are judged anonymously. Do not put your name or contact information or other identifying information (e.g., publishing pseudonyms) anywhere on your actual entry. For mailed entries place your name and contact information on an accompanying cover page along with information about the submission, requested below. For Submittable entries, there will be a place on the Submittable form for your name and contact information.
  • One Creative Nonfiction entry is one piece (6,000 words maximum). CNF entries should be double spaced and paginated. For mailed entries the word count should be noted on cover page that accompanies your entry. For Submittable entries the word count should be noted on the Submittable form.
  • The entry fee for your first entry depends on where you are living. If your address is in Canada, then the fee for first entry is $30 CAD. Additional entries after that first contest entry are $10 CAD. If you do not live in Canada, then the fee for your first entry is $36 USD and additional entries after that first entry are $10 USD.
  • You must submit a first entry (and pay the first entry fee) before submitting an additional entry. If you submit an additional entry without first submitting that first entry, your entry may be disqualified and the entry fee will not be returned.
  • You will receive a one-year subscription to The Fiddlehead with your first entry. New subscriptions will start with the Summer 2020 issue (no. 284). Already a subscriber? — you'll receive a one-year extension to your current subscription. Additional entries do not receive an additional subscription or subscription extension.
  • The Fiddlehead occasionally swaps its subscription list with other literary organizations. If you don't wish to be included in such exchanges, please state this on your entry's cover page.
  • The contest winner will be contacted directly (by either email or telephone) by the middle of July 2020. Other entrants will not be individually contacted about the results. Authors’ names and the titles of the works that made a shortlist of 10 will appear on The Fiddlehead’s website in early September 2020. The winner is announced on The Fiddlehead website and on The Fiddlehead’s social media spaces around the time that the fall issue comes out.
  • The winning entry will be published in The Fiddlehead’s Fall 2020 issue and on our website. There is a publication payment in addition to the contest prizes. The current publication payment rate is $60/page.
  • The winner will be interviewed. The interview will be published on The Fiddlehead’s website when the fall issue comes out.
  • An entry will be disqualified (no matter at what stage in the contest process it is at), if it is discovered that an entry has violated the contest rule on simultaneous submissions, prior publication, or original authorship. The entry fee will not be reimbursed; however, the entrant will still receive the one-year subscription if the entry was an initial entry.
  • An entry may be disqualified (no matter at what stage in the contest process it is at), if it is discovered that the author entered that entry as an additional entry and never submitted and paid for a first entry. The entry fee will be not be reimbursed; and if a subscription was started in error, it will immediately be cancelled.

For Submittable entries

  • You can only upload ONE file when entering via Submittable, (doc or .docx preferred; rtfs acceptable; no pdfs please). Please do not submit your entry as a pdf. Do not include a cover letter or bio as part of that file. Cover letters and bios will be deleted from any entry file.
  • Remember only use the additional entry category IF you have already submitted and paid for a first contest entry.