We have romped our way through stories and poems about relationships, water, climbing, love, chickens, falling, fires, sex and the meaning of life. The response was overwhelming and we thank everyone who submitted for sharing their creativity. The winners are listed below. We are publishing the stories and poems from our winners and runners-up in our upcoming summer 2016 Fiction Issue, out in May! Make sure to get yourself a copy.

But, in case you want something to read now, we are satiating your needs with a poem from the eclectic minds of “Cole Aborate,” a collective of 12 students in Selkirk College’s creative writing program. They didn’t win, but they made a cool poem from cutting up words from one of our magazines. We think that deserves a round of enthusiastic applause.

We want to thank the Banff Centre and the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival for partnering with us and donating their generous first-place prize. Thank you also to G3 for prizing and the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival, where the winners will be invited to read their work at the festival in Nelson in July. Drum roll, please…

Banff Logo       EMLF Logo


Anne DeGrace

Anne DeGrace is a writer and editor living in Nelson, British Columbia. She is the author of four novels published in Canada and the U.S. As a freelancer, she has written for newspapers, magazines, and web. She has mentored emerging writers for 10 years and served on numerous writing-competition juries. An incorrigible volunteer, she is currently consumed with Nelson’s Elephant Mountain Literary Festival.

Emily Nilsen

Emily Nilsen has a BFA and an MFA in writing, and in 2015 her work was long-listed for the UK National Poetry Prize and short-listed for the CBC Poetry Prize. Her first book of poetry is forthcoming in spring 2017. Born and raised in Vancouver, she now lives in Nelson, British Columbia.


Animals Don’t Have Souls
Short Fiction By Will Johnson, Nelson, British Columbia

Judge’s Comment: “Character and setting are effectively revealed in what feels like an explosion of literary colour. The initial tension is actually a foil for the backstory, yet this foreshadowing doesn’t spoil the surprise. Quirky yet natural dialogue supports the pacing, which allows the reader just enough breathing room as we move through a narrative that demands our attention. There is a whole lot packed into this piece; I found myself thinking about it for quite a while afterwards, which is a sure sign of successful story.”

*Grand Prize: Four tickets to the 2016 Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival and one night’s accommodation in Banff.

Shudder Island
Poem By John Creary, Calgary, Alberta

Judge’s Comment: “There was an effective tension within this poem which was heightened by its poetic form. The enjambment and indented couplets created a sense of being washed back and forth by waves, paralleling the ominous yet subtle scene unfolding within the poem. Guises are also lifted here, as the speaker witnesses their children taking in realities and tales from the world, including their own vulnerability. This poem brought me right into its setting, holding me onboard until the final couplet where the slightly nauseating presence of the unknown is slowed into silence.”

*Prize: One pair of G3 Empire Carbon 115 skis


In Silence, You Can Hear
Short Fiction by Fletcher FitzGibbon, Nelson, British Columbia

Judge’s Comment: “A great deal is happening in this narrative, deftly rendered in a remarkable economy of words. Authenticity of voice rings through the protagonist’s perceptions and experience. I was taken with the way in which the many layers of the story were presented with such a clear and gentle writerly hand; it’s not easy to do in a world that more often rewards the dramatic. There is a sense of trust in the reader, here, and that’s a big part of the story’s success. The result is smart, insightful, and oddly charming.”

Bored as a Boy on a Beach
Poem by Mark Goodwin, Leicestershire, England

Judge’s Comment: “An imaginative, playful scene bounces out of this poem, as though it were drawn with an illustrator’s hand. The internal rhyme and rhythm mimics the moves and sequences described. The contrast between large and small perspectives is effectively wrapped together with that final, perfectly surprising, image.”

Honourable Mentions
Eye for an Eye, short fiction by Leesa Dean, Nelson, BC
Haywood, poem by Daniel Mathewson, Spokane, Washington


A message from “Cole Arborate”:

This poem is a conceptual project, created entirely of words extracted from KMC’s Summer 2014 issue. The poem took several weeks to create and involved many steps. First, each student culled the magazine, looking for words that intrigued, and they created their own poetic lines from those words. The next week, we arrived in class with our lines cut up into strips and dumped them on the table. Mayhem ensued–there were hundreds of lines and we had no idea what to do with them. We tried to do something with them, but they quickly degenerated into a sex poem. No, no, we decided. We can do better.

Our next attempt involved compiling the lines into seven pages of raw material. Now what? We wondered, looking at the labyrinthine possibilities before us. Now we each create a stanza, someone said. About what? We wondered. Without a theme, we knew we would keep wandering in the ether.

What about our Kootenay identity? someone suggested.

The resulting stanzas were beautiful, eclectic, yet somehow strangely cohesive. We could see facets of ourselves in each of them: the raw and spongy commitment, our existential thoughts (a common trait among writers), the way living in the shadow of a mountain shapes who you are/become. But the poem was too long and lacked structure. We spent an entire class one night moving things around, combining, cutting, arguing (just a little) until we found a poem we could all agree on.


Lost and Found

We are the children of fast moving rivers
rolling somewhere and nowhere
among cloud high mountains
that choke out the sun.
We come in transient movements,
running to the idea of someone else’s paradise.

The universal small town condition
making home among the good time ghosts
we let our heads spin—
a churning abyss.
This strange confluence of doubts and dreams
is the finer point of thriving/surviving.

Run from your purpose
raw and spongy commitment
shake your head to clear away
howling thoughts and fading regret.
Dive deep into the wine
if you think you’ll regret something, sleep late.

Push deeper, lay trail
as though in dance with nature.
A devout tribe of flannel clad alpine warriors
dazed by cedar fanfare and risk
search for uncommon beauty
almost to the point of obsession.

How will we be judged
in this place of real honesty?
In the Kootenays,
the world seems less small and more possible
let all judgement fall away
whatever your dream is, tell someone about it.