Here are the Short Forms Contest 2019 Winners!

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Kayi Wong
Writing on a notebook on lap

Photo credit: Melanie Evelyn

The results are finally here. Our warmest congratulations to the three writers whose works have been selected by our esteemed judge, Gwen Benaway, as the two first place winners and honourable mention for our 2019 Short Forms Contest!

Room's 2019 Short Forms Contest: The Winners

First place: “From All Four Corners” by Roshni Riar

Roshni Riar is an emerging writer and student, currently studying Creative Writing at Douglas College. Working primarily in poetry and memoir, she explores the relationship between culture, language, trauma, and identity. Constantly taking things apart to put them back together on a page. This is her first published piece.

Tracing dual geographies of place and space, From All Four Corners embodies the resonance of intersecting histories and ways of being. The work is deft and gently examines the complexities of witnessing the world as an emotional landscape where histories of violence, erasure, and becoming emerge alongside affective ties. It is a deeply felt and richly theorized text that maps a world through the speaker's relationships to four people, creating a small universe with such careful insight that the text feels like a gift to its readers.—Gwen Benaway

First place: “love letter to a broken archive” by Kai Minosh Pyle

Kai Minosh Pyle is a Métis and Sault Ste. Marie Nishnaabe Two-Spirit writer originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin and currently living on the Dakota people’s homelands in occupied Bde Ota Othunwe (Minneapolis, MN).  Their first chapbook, AANAWI GO, is due to be published monolingually in Anishinaabemowin in spring 2020 through Little Gull Press.

From the first sentence, “love letter to a broken archive” steals the breath away. It is passionate, powerful, and brilliantly wrought work. It seeks to transform the archive in order to reclaim and re imagine bodies as something more than sterile records. It returns humanity back to it's narrators and the bodies that the archive has sought to diminish. It's a poetically daring work that fiercely imagines other possibilities for lives beyond the sterility of colonial accounting.—Gwen Benaway

Honourable Mention: “Baby Shark” by Sanchari Sur

Sanchari Sur is a 2019 recipient of a Banff residency (with Electric Literature) and 2018 Lambda Literary Fellowship. Their work appears in Toronto Book Award shortlisted The Unpublished City etc., and is forthcoming in Al Jazeera. She is a doctoral candidate in English, and the curator of Balderdash Reading Series.

“Baby Shark” is a love letter that reanimates the wonder of cinema, kinship, and movement between resonant spaces. It looks through death and loss into the soft ties between generations that persist despite the velocity of life. It hums with a radiant care for the text's narrator, the world they inhabit, and the people that give them life.—Gwen Benaway


You can find Roshni's and Kai's winning entries in the upcoming Room 43.2, which will be published in the summer. As for the honourable mention, you can read Sanchari's essay right now via the link above.

Our sincere gratitude to our esteemed judge, Gwen Benaway, for her thoughtfulness in the judging process and generosity in sharing with us her time. Do note that contest submissions are always submitted anonymously to our judge as part of the selection process. We would also like to thank every writer who shared their writing with us. In case you missed the previous announcements, you can click through the links for the 2019 Short Forms Contest longlist and shortlist.

Room's annual short forms contest opens every year on September 1.


Errata: A previous version of this announcement stated that Kai Minosh Pyle was the second place winner.

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