Barbara Black's "His Invertebrate Existence" Wins $2,500 Cash Prize – 24th Annual Short Prose Competition

The Writers' Union of Canada
Press Release

The Writers' Union of Canada is pleased to announce that Barbara Black has won the $2,500 cash prize for its 24th annual Short Prose Competition for Emerging Writers, for the best story under 2,500 words, with her piece “His Invertebrate Existence.” In addition, the Union will submit the winning story and the eleven other shortlisted stories to three Canadian magazine publishers for their consideration.

Barbara Black is a 2017 Malahat Review Open Season Awards finalist whose fiction has also appeared in Freefall, The New Quarterly, and Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal. A recipient of the $1,000 first prize in the 2017 Don’t Talk to Me About Love Poetry Contest, her poems have also appeared in Contemporary Verse 2, FreeFall, Forage Poetry, The Dying Dahlia Review, and Poems from Planet Earth. She lives in Victoria, BC, where she’s currently busy riding the twisties on her new motorcycle. Learn more at
The Short Prose Competition, established in 1993 in honour of the Union’s 20th anniversary, aims to discover, encourage, and promote new writers of short prose who have published up to a maximum of one work in book format, in order to provide opportunity and exposure to developing writers. This year, nineteen Union members donated their time and expertise to read 414 outstanding submissions and distill them into a long list of eighty-two stories. These stories went on to a second round of eighteen who selected the finalists to pass on to the jury: Eden Robinson, Amy Stuart, and Russell Wangersky.


"His Invertebrate Existence” by Barbara Black, Victoria, BC

Of the piece, the jury remarked, "Filled with careful, sharp language, ‘His Invertebrate Existence’ is a short story with a fascinating approach to the world of a man who finds himself conscious in his unconscious. It begins with the mundane of everyday life then mutates into an existential tale both funny and unique. Black's deft touch for description allows the story to shift seamlessly from points of view and states of mind, yet its greatest strength is in the sheer originality of the plot. This is a wildly imaginative story from a writer to watch."


  • Dad and Cassius Clay, Diane Bracuk, Toronto, ON
  • From the River, Susan Carpenter, Calgary, AB
  • The Deciding Problem, Sonal Champsee, Toronto, ON
  • How Touching, Clarissa P. Green, Vancouver, BC
  • Palimpsest, Neil Guernsey, Vancouver, BC
  • The Importance of String, Christine Jarvis, Toronto, ON
  • The River Washes Everything, Christopher Mpofu, Saskatoon, SK
  • Wheelbarrow, Rebekah Skochinski, Thunder Bay, ON
  • Ways of Leaving, Marcia Walker, Toronto, ON
  • How They Move On, Shelley Wood, Kelowna, BC
  • The Energy Saver, Julia Zarankin, Toronto, ON


Eden Robinson, Amy Stuart, and Russell Wangersky.

Rona Altrows, Cheryl Antao-Xavier, Lynda A. Archer, Astrid Blodgett, Ron Brown, Kevin Burns, Myrl Coulter, Maggie Dwyer, Ann Eyerman, April Ford, P.M. Foss, Loraine Fowlow, Mia Herrera, Katherine Koller, Deborah de Lange, Jerry Levy, Julia Lin, Janice MacDonald, W.B. MacDonald, Marnie Maguire, Colette Maitland, Hugh T. McCracken, Rich Meyrick, Jean Mills, Alexa Nazzaro, Edeet Ravel, Rick Revelle, Zoë S. Roy, René Schmidt, Vanessa Shields, Jim Smith, Susan Smith, Shawn Syms, Damian Tarnopolsky, Rea Tarvydas, Ruth E. Walker, Susan White.

The Writers' Union of Canada is our country's national organization representing professional authors of books. Founded in 1973, the Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers. 

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For additional information:
Nancy MacLeod, Membership & Donor Campaign Coordinator
The Writers’ Union of Canada 
416-703-8982 Ext. 226