Short Story Festival

Words Unbound 

We are now accepting submissions for this year's Short Story Festival!

The theme, Words Unbound, explores the multifaceted nature of language and how words can be both universal and personal; broad and specific. We invite you to ponder the profound impact that language has through the lens of your unique lived experiences using one of the following prompts:

The Power of a Native Tongue
Describe a word from your native language that holds particular significance or power in your life. It may represent a complex emotion, cultural tradition, or an essential value. How has it affected your cultural identity and personal connection?

An Impactful Phrase
Narrate the story of a common phrase from your household that has left a lasting impact on your life - a piece of advice, a mantra, or a cherished saying. How has this phrase shaped your decisions, influenced your perspectives, or provided comfort during challenging times?

Lost in Translation
Share an experience where a word, phrase, or gesture from one language or culture lacked a direct equivalent in another. Sometimes language fails to act as a bridge and becomes a barrier instead. How do we navigate the nuances and gaps in communication between people?

A Cross-Generational Heirloom
Explore a family heirloom that has traversed time, borders, and generations - an object, a piece of art, or even an intangible legacy passed down through storytelling. How has it served as a link connecting your past, present, and future?

With 'Words Unbound', we are excited to read a diverse collection of stories that honour the boundless world of language and its profound impact on our human existence.

Eight selected storytellers will receive a $150 honorarium and a feature in a future publication! Calgary-based storytellers will also be invited to share their story at the festival’s live reading on Thursday, November 23.

We are honoured to be putting on the festival with partners Afros in Tha CityBIPAN Magazine, and The Alcove Centre for the Arts from November 21-23, 2023 in person for the very first time! Stay tuned for the reveal of our event line-up coming soon.

Submission Guidelines

All submissions must be made through the web form below by October 15, 2023 at 11.59PM PST. We are only accepting submissions from within Canada. 

Stories can be written in any style with a maximum of 1,500 words in length. Stories must be uploaded in Word (.doc, docx) or PDF format. Please do not include your name anywhere in the document. Submissions must include a 50-200 word biography as well as a JPG or PNG headshot. We accept both unpublished and previously published works.

No email submissions will be accepted. If you require assistance submitting your application via the web form, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Writers of all levels may apply. We prioritize stories by people from marginalized communities and underrepresented identities, and encourage submissions from writers of all abilities who are Black, Indigenous, or of the Global Majority, as well as writers from the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.