Word Feast: Fredericton’s Literary Festival is thrilled to announce the winners of three contests held before and during this year’s “Dine-in” edition: Neil Sampson, Ryan Marshall, and Al Cusack.

This year’s Word Feast Postcard Story Contest was the third annual event. Contestants from New Brunswick submitted short stories—500 words or under—during the summer.

The judge of the postcard stories was the New Brunswick Book Award Winner and past Word Feast participant Danny Jacobs. This is what the judge to say about the winning entries.

The first prize winner was “Transition, by Neil Sampson. Jacobs wrote: “ “Transition,” a fully realized New Brunswick Gothic rendered in lyrical and haunting prose, encompasses a long life in a short space—no mean feat. Through striking detail and singular voice, the author brings to life the Nashwaak’s ancient and witch-like Maeve, a character that was “more than her years alone.” The reader comes to know the strange Maeve through deft strokes, how she “could caw the crows down from the clouds,” how she was “born with eyes sewn shut in mucous webs.”  The story manages to be both funny and sad, irreverent, and touching. A fine example of the form’s expansive possibilities.”

Neil Sampson’s story “Too Many Cooks” also drew attention as a runner-up. According to Danny Jacobs, “ “Too Many Cooks” is a story that runs on the machinery of voice. With its pitch-perfect fragments, tossed-off humour, and odd turns-of-phase, the reader feels as though they are sitting in a Maritime kitchen, hearing a tall tale of 19th century small-town life. The details are perfectly placed and of their time, from Irish stew night at the local church, to the character of Seamus, “an old-country nationalist, a purist of the filthiest kind.” By bringing style to narration, by creating a storyteller that is both arch and old-timey, the author raises the story out of anecdote and into art.”

Neil Sampson won a $200 prize and took part in the online Odd Sundays at Word Feast event on Sunday, September 27, 2020, where Danny Jacobs announced the winners and shared his comments.

This year Word Feast was unable to hold an event at the beautiful Fredericton Playhouse venue; in its place, we decided to launch a new contest in partnership with the theatre. Judged by Tim Yerxa, Executive Director of Fredericton Playhouse, the contest called for first-person fictional account told from the point of view of anyone or anything you might find in the Fredericton Playhouse, in any time period. Yerxa said he had fun reading the stories submitted by New Brunswick writers who let their imaginations run wild through the past or future. He chose Ryan Marshall’s story, “The Velvet Gentleman,” as the inaugural Word Feast Fredericton Playhouse contest winner. Marshall won a $150 prize and a $50 gift certificate to Fredericton Playhouse. The judge and winner took part in the Odd Sundays event and in the conversation about the story.

Our final contest, closing at the beginning of the festival, was a video slam. Spoken word artists, singer-songwriters, video-poem and video-story creators, and rap musicians were invited to submit their creations. Creators were asked to celebrate the local by mentioning and showing places in Fredericton: restaurants, stores, parks, street scenes, or other favourite spots. Videos would be shown on Word Feast’s Facebook page and judged by viewers. Al Cusack was acclaimed as the winner for “Solidarity Sharpies Cobblestones,” which was a beautifully spoken and filmed expression of Fredericton. Al Cusack has chosen gift certificates from J’s Asian Kitchen and Endeavours, and Word Feast applauds this support of local businesses.

Word Feast congratulates all those who submitted entries to the three 2020 contests and especially to the winners.

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