Short Forms Contest 2021: The Winners

The results are in. Many thanks to all those who’ve submitted, and to our incredible judge, Michelle Good, for her careful consideration and kind words about each of these pieces. Our warmest congratulations to these three winners of our 2021 Short Forms Contest!


First Place: She is Dancing, by Michelle Contant

Michelle Contant is a Northern Ontario writer. She began her writing journey after concluding a 30-year career in elementary education. Her writing has been inspired by the rugged northern landscape and the many children who have inhabited her life. Michelle’s creative non-fiction has appeared in Grain Magazine and The Globe and Mail. She is the author of the memoir A Tremor Thorough Time, Recollections From A Northern Ontario Childhood.

“Michelle ably captures the state of constant uncertainty, humiliation, fear and brutality of Indian School days, and, in counterpoint, the antidote.  She succinctly and completely illustrates the dreams of home that sustained so many children. Niimi’s Anishnaabe spirit rises in her and creates a mantra for survival as she frees herself from the horror of the moment by visualizing herself dancing in her regalia, home and safe. The writer captures the complexity of survival in understated prose that gives room to the reader to see and feel both the horror and the freedom of dreams of home.” – Judge Michelle Good


Second Place: Body, by Jaki Eisman

Jaki Eisman is a recent graduate of The Writer’s Studio at SFU, and her work can be found in the Emerge anthology (2021). She is currently working on a full length memoir about the challenges, victories and spiritual opportunities of a life spent dealing with severe mental illness. She lives in Vancouver with her fluffy cat, Nunu.

“Body is a deeply poignant and moving articulation of the destruction that so often occurs when a child’s agency over their body is compromised by those who exert power over her. With concision and clarity, the writer takes the reader from childhood to adolescence to adulthood tracking the progression and increasing severity of the harms caused by this lack of agency. The writer skillfully employs insinuation rather than graphic articulation to create a deep sense of powerlessness and despair.” – Judge Michelle Good


Honourable Mention: Music Box, by Marilee Dahlman

Marilee lives in Washington, DC, where she writes fiction first thing in the morning and works as a lawyer for the rest of the day. Her other stories have appeared in Apparition Lit, The Bitter Oleander, Cleaver, Metaphorosis, Molotov Cocktail, Mystery Weekly, Orca Lit and elsewhere. She can be found on Twitter @marilee_dahlman.

The paragraph long sentence in Music Box creates an air of breathlessness like that which would accompany a pressured plea or a critical moment of uncertainty. The writer demonstrates an impressive ability in the use of image. – Judge Michelle Good


You can find Michelle and Jaki’s short form submission in the upcoming Room 45.2, which will be published in the Summer of 2022. Marilee’s fantastic piece, Music Box, is available for you to read right now, via the link above!

We would like to thank every author who sent us their writing in this enduringly long pandemic – your short and beautiful works were a moment of light this winter! Many thanks again to Michelle Good for her careful selection of this year’s shortlist and three winners. In case you missed the previous announcements, you can check out our Short Forms longlist and shortlist, here.

Room‘s annual Short Forms Contest will open again next year on September 1st.

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