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Awards, Grants, and Fellowships for Canadian Writers and Poets


Canadian writers and poets are offered awards, grants, and fellowships to encourage them to develop and reach their full potential. The list of awards is quite long and includes the Fiddlehead Annual Literary Competition, Far Horizons Awards, the Freefall, Annual Prose and Poetry Contest, the Room Fiction and Poetry Contest, and others. There are prizes, and contests for short poems as well, for example the Utmost Christian Poetry Contest and the CBC Poetry Prize. Awards are also offered for books of poetry and chapbooks, one example being the Griffin Poetry Prize.

There are contests and awards with a more narrow focus such as the short story contest organized by Capital Crime Writers and the Canadian Jewish Book Awards. The former is called the Audrey Jessup Short Story Contest and is organized for short story crime fiction authors. The first prize is $200. Stories must be short (up to 3,500 words) and not published anywhere else. The Canadian Jewish Book Awards is the program of the Koffler Centre of the Arts. Last year, it was renamed the Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature and features 5 categories. Winners in each category get a prize of $10,000. Different formats are allowed, including digital storytelling, graphic novels, e-books, books, and others. Other literary awards to look into include Carol Bolt, the Banff Mountain Book Festival, and the Lorne Pierce Medal.


Grants are also offered to Canadian writers and poets under different funding programs. Some programs are designed for publishes, for example, the Book Publishing Support, Book Industry Development Program, and others. Other programs are designed to support writers. Funding is also available in the form of block, travel, and creative writing grants. Travel grants, for example, are offered to translators and writers to benefit from travel opportunities and receive prizes and awards, attend book fairs, international festivals, conferences, etc. The Creative Writing grant is offered to authors working in different genres, including literary non-fiction, graphic novel, children’s literature, poetry, short story, and novel. The Writers’ Reserve Grants are available to professional writers with a focus on history, social issues, literary criticism, poetry, and fiction.

The Canada Council for the Arts also offers grants to help writers promote, publish, translate, and create work. The money can be used in different ways – to attend festivals, conferences, and literary readings, pay for residence, etc. The Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council also offers financial assistance to authors through different programs and funds such as the Community Arts Program and the Professional Artist’s Travel Fund.

Fellowships for Writers and Poets

Fellowships are available through the Writers’ Trust of Canada and participants are offered $50,000 a year within a 3-year period. Candidates who demonstrate an outstanding potential and creative ability have the chance to get the award. They are asked to provide proof of a solid publishing track record. Candidates working in different genres qualify, including literature, poetry, literary non-fiction, and fiction. The trust also offers grants, prizes, and awards, one example being The Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. The winner is awarded $15,000 while all finalists get $2,000.

Developing a project proposal is an important part of the application process. Proposals can be as short as a couple of pages or quite detailed and comprehensive depending on the type of grant. Applicants are usually asked to include information such as budget, project plan, and other details. Candidates with a professional project proposal have a better chance to get approved and receive a grant.

Judith Fitzgerald

Judith Fitzgerald was a Canadian journalist, critic, poet, and editor with a broad range of interests, from culture, media, and art to sports, music, and others.  Born in Toronto in 1952, she earned a B.A. and M.A. from the York University and pursued a doctoral degree at the University of Toronto. A literary journalist, Judith Fitzgerald had a distinctive voice and an outstanding talent. She died in 2015 at the age of 63 in her home in Port Loring.


Fitzgerald had a difficult life and early childhood. Born to a mother who was a grade 6 dropout, she had many brothers and sisters by different men. She even recalls her mother working as a prostitute. Most of her children were removed for adoption by the social workers, with only three children left at home – Judith, her sister Maggie, and her brother Robert. Maggie died at the age of 29. The three children were neglected, beaten, and starved, and her brother Robert was forced to scavenge for food. Their mother and stepfather refused to spend money on clothing and she had just one sweater and a dress to wear at school. With the help of her teachers, young Judith was moved into foster care at the age of 13.

Fitzgerald had a difficult life and sometimes lived on loans or money given by friends. During different periods she lived on income support and on welfare. At the same time, she was quite adept at applying for and obtaining government grants. Research published at Quill & Quire shows that the received $154,000 in grants in just 10 years.

Her biggest love was Juan Butler, a Canadian novelist and the author of three books – Canadian Healing Oil, The Garbageman, and Cabbagetown Diary: A Documentary. In 1981, Butler committed suicide. Fitzgerald had many health problems, including acute respiratory distress syndrome, celiac disease, cervical cancer, and osteoporosis. She developed acute respiratory distress syndrome in hospital in 2002 after a money dispute. Fitzgerald was severely beaten by 3 men and ended up in hospital a couple of days later. After this episode, she left the area and moved to Port Loring where she received income support. She died from a massive heart attack on 25 November, 2015. Her friends describe her as vengeful, demanding, and needy, the way abused and neglected children are.

Work and Accomplishments

Judith Fitzgerald’s Today’s Country featured country music artists and was awarded the Canadian Country Music Award. Among her many accomplishments are poetry and music columns for the Toronto Star and blogs produced for the Globe and Mail. Fitzgerald was also a prolific poet with a long list of brilliant poetry works: Rapturous Chronicles (1991), Diary of Desire (1987), My Orange Gorange (1985), Beneath the Skin of Paradise (1984), and many others. Recent poetry works include O, Clytaemnestra!  (2007), Electra’s Benison (2006), and Orestes’ Lament (2007).

She is also the editor of books such as the First Person Plural (1988) and SP/ELLES: Poetry by Canadian Women (1986).  Judith Fitzgerald authored, edited, and co-edited more than 20 books, including poetry, biographical works, and prose. She is the coeditor of The Spirit of Indian Women, Christian Spirit, Indian Spirit: Revised & Enlarged, and others. Fitzgerald also worked as a writer-in-residence for the University of Windsor, the Laurentian University, the Agloma University College, and the Hamilton Public Library.

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