Submissions are accepted on a regular basis, year-round.
Can include, short stories, essays, poetry and prose.
Must not exceed 3,000 words.
Must be written by a current ESA student, or alumni.
Submissions are accepted:

Monday, 8 February 2016

Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize for Canadian Youth

Sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets, the Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize for Canadian Youth competition runs in two streams:
  • Junior (Grades 7-9)
  • Senior (Grades 10-12)
Winners receive cash prizes, Certificates, and student membership in the League of Canadian Poets.

 In addition to the above, winning poems will be featured on

Deadline for submissions is February 15th.  Winners will be notified in April, and announced in May during National Youth Arts Week.

Entry guidelines available at the Library Circulation Desk, or online at

Saturday, 6 February 2016

I Can Only Hope She Heard Me by Anonymous

I don’t know if she can hear me, but I feel guilty. I sit by my grandmother’s bedside — I can’t perfectly remember the colour of the room, but it was probably an odd not-really-there blue — her bed isn’t large but she is swallowed whole by it. If her feet had eyes, they would be able to see out of the window facing them, but they do not and her head is too low for her to see the outside world. If she can even see that well. I feel so small in this little box, like a twig that grew out too far from the branch. The room is at the end of the hall, facing the fire exit, at the edge of the building. It seems like it could easily be forgotten in the multitude of box-rooms. It doesn’t even get the wi-fi. I’m sitting there, cold hands and sweaty feet, looking at this woman I owe so much to. Alone with her, but ultimately alone. Her rib cage rises and falls like clockwork with a faulty cog. She’s dying. So much a foregone conclusion that we are in her grave. 93 years she lived, I imagine that me apologizing to her can’t be the most important thing to have happened in those long years. Maybe it was her wedding, or her children’s births, her first day of teaching, her husband’s death, or the day she was hit by a van. Maybe even a perfect, happy Sunday. Anything but me, a tiny thing, eyes becoming glassy and dry. 

I want to say sorry. Sorry that I never came to see her, sorry our family is so cruel, that she never got any respect. I want to apologize for not being able to separate her from that, not being able to suck it up and stop being such a victim. For not acting like she was worth it. Intentions are no good, so I will continue to be this shivering mass sitting on the edge of this chair, looking at her. My mouth remains shut, my eyes are still dry, but crying. The feeling of frigid ice, sticking to my eyelids, grating the skin. She used to be a Home Economics teacher, she made my mother’s clothing from scratch, and most of the conversation at the dinner table. A few years ago, before she was in the secure ward, before going out for a walk during winter and being found half-frozen on the edge of the sidewalk; she went back to her old home. A fairly sizeable house, teetering on the edge of a ravine. The man who lived there was perfectly happy to let her in and she would sit in the garden for a while until my aunt would come to pick her up. Each time apologizing, each time saying it would be the last. My mother tells me of her room on the second floor, how it reached just over the ravine, so you felt as if it would topple out of the house, leaving everyone else undisturbed. The wind would whistle through the cracks in the walls, but the view was beautiful. Once, on a walk through the very same ravine, my grandmother’s hearing aid dropped out, and my aunt found it. A shocking thing, although the most shocking is that my grandmother even wore it at all. I don’t think she liked hearing much. 

She was named Mary. There’s a running joke in the family that if you ever forget your male cousin’s name, just call him Jim and you’ll probably be right. For a woman, either Jane or Mary will do. As I sit in this plastic chair, I fancy that I could be Christ’s daughter in a female dynasty. Mother Mary gave birth to Christine, who gave birth to Rachel. In the bible, Rachel turns her husband into a pepper pot, alas no relation to Christ aside from the obvious. I wish I could turn men into pepper pots. I also wish I could remember her favourite song. It’s not that I don’t remember the song, I just can’t remember the first line. It sits on my tongue, joining the congregation of my apologies. The question becomes; which will escape first? My eyes feel too big for my head, they lift to the bare walls, which could even be green. Either way, she didn’t like them. Barren of pictures, every time someone put some up, the next day they would be on the ground again. Mary always wanted to go home, and knew that this was definitely not it. 
I look up the song. As I sing to her, I wish she could hear me. No. I don’t want her to hear this trembling voice, these poorly controlled breaths, I just wish I could speak to her. In the last years, she didn’t speak much. Her teeth began rotting away in her mouth, her vocal chords became used to being unused, but when she did speak it had a point. Whenever I was around her I became this inflated thing, a balloon pumped with too much helium and nervous energy. I would hold her hands; eyes wide with purposeful contact with hers and ask, How are you? Sounding it out and making sure she could see my mouth. She would nod. This was simply not enough for the energetic mouse that I became, still with the eyes, now shaking the hands slightly, Are you good? Her eyes would widen, she would swallow, take a breath, then nod and reply, Yes, with conviction. Other times she would look at me, as if to say, What do you think? In which case, I would compress my lips, nod and hug her. We are Campbell women, we suffer in silence together and pretend that that is the same as fighting back. 

Acts of defiance are few and far between in our family, they are looks, jokes, whispers, and ultimately ineffectual. In the area beyond the door at my back, there is a landing; a living area of sorts in front of the window. It faces the other old folks’ home across the way. Sometimes I wave. In this living area, there is one couch and three chairs. Every day, the residents rearrange the furniture, and every morning the staff ‘fixes’ it, and every day the residents move it around again. Such perseverance from these anonymous inhabitants, these men and women with arthritis and Alzheimer’s, dementia and perpetual coughs. I often wondered who these silent heroes were, was it the old shop-owner you had to steer clear of, so he couldn’t try to grab you — once he grabbed my grandmother and she kicked him — or the old professor who's visiting wife remembered my grandmother, although Mary didn’t remember her? The men and women you saw in the lunchroom with collapsed lips and drooping eyes whose faces lit up if you smiled at them? The ones who would sooner glare at you than accept your smile? Old moody Leonard, who always spoke of his wife, how sorry he was for treating her the way he did. Who spoke with my (Jewish) uncle about his time in the (Nazi) German army, his yells and fits that woke everyone who could hear late in the night. These people had so many stories to tell, their skin stretched once tight over their faces, but now is marked and lived in. I wonder if my grandmother helped. In places like these, occurrences of life are so colourful. They shine between the bland walls and the pictures of forgotten events, scream through the sounds of shuffling feet and confused voices. Moving furniture becomes life. I once saw her in an art session, colouring in a picture of a parrot. Her colours were vivid and her pen movements enthusiastic, we danced a little jig when she was done; like she used to with my grandfather. That was summer. 

Now it is cold; it’s winter and this is the time when 93 year old women who deserved so much more die, and I am sorry. 
This is the time to wrap up, both in scarves and endings. To make it clear; I did sit on the edge of the chair, and opened my mouth. My apologies spilled out and I became only what I was; a sorry child apologizing where there is no chance for redemption. I became spit and snot and salty water and shivers and sorry and sorrier and sorrier and sorrier. She did open her eyes, and I held her hand and I looked into those eyes, and apologized for all that I was worth. It was still cold when she died, and she looked the same as she did when she was alive. Bright veins under pale skin, hands folded, an old woman under blankets, graceful nails and white hair. Her ribcage only moved with a trick of the light; shining impishly on the old machinery. She was on the edge, the precipice and she fell off. Tumbled towards the ravine, or the ground, down the fire escape and away from us, but she was gone long before that.

If Only by Daysha Loppie

do you ever think of me ? 
of what we could be
if we were born in the stars
where impossibility 
is no longer such
and reality is a dream
and luck?
luck is no longer magic
where there are no laws or
restrictions on our hearts
or our thoughts
which become what we choose
no longer confused
or influenced by media
we would no longer abuse
our earth 
we have forgotten
that it may be our home
but it is not our own 
or under our control
we would look down at it and realize
we are tiny
we are alone and
there is more beyond the screens
of our phones 
there is so much more to take care of
other than our flesh and bones
like our souls
our energy our spirituality
we must make sure our insides
shine gold and we must see
with what is between our brows
and we must touch
with our fingertips one another
spread love and be free 
if only
we could elevate