Awesome Poets at JC’s January Workshops for the Ottawa Public Library’s 2015 Awesome Authors Contest

On January 10 and 16, JC lead workshops for young poets who are thinking about entering the OPL’s 2015 Awesome Authors Contest. The contest, now in its 19th year, closes on February 16 for both online and hard copy submissions.

Open to writers of poetry and short stories in English and/or French in three age categories (9-11, 12-14 and 15-17), the contest gives an opportunity to talented students in this region to submit their work to judges who are professional writers. Winning entries appear in the annual anthology, Pot Pourri, published by the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library. Winning writers also receive prizes at an awards ceremony held at the end of March.

“This is a great way for talented young people to move forward with their work. Submitting poems and stories takes courage, but it is worth doing. If you are a writer, you want your work to be read or heard. And, if the writing doesn’t leave your head or stays on your own page, then it’s more in the nature of a journal or diary, which is fine, but not the sharing experience, which this contest offers,” JC suggests.

JC invited 15-17 year-olds to enter the amazing space where poetry works at the first workshop, billed as “What’s on your mind? Write? Edit? Post?”By reading together some of the winning poems over the history of the Awesome Authors Contest, JC highlighted features that attracted her and which led to the poem securing a place in the winners’ circle.

Some participants brought poems they had written, which they would not enter into this year’s competition. One past winner looked for insight into why a poem had not placed in the competition in a particular year.

JC reiterated what she explains at each awards ceremony: “Judging poetry is highly subjective. What one judge would choose might not appeal to another. Plus, how a poem ‘rates’ depends somewhat upon the competition, particularly when there’s a rich field of entries.”

JC’s approach with 9-12 year-olds departed from “What cereal boxes Say about Writing Poetry,” and focused on factors that make poems stand out from the pack, or the package! Again, the group looked at winning poems from past contest to show how they succeeded.

“I encourage emerging poets and short story-writers to submit their work in time for the mid-February deadline. I’d like 500 English poetry entries this year. I want to feel swamped and amazed by the creativity and daring of young poets.”

Information on where and how to enter is available from:



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