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PRAISE & REVIEWS

2018:

September

The Malahat Review congratulates Rowan McCandless on winning the 2018 Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Prize. Her entry, “Found Objects,” was chosen by final judge Lynne Van Luven.

“Of McCandless’s story, Van Luven said: Found Objects gains the reader’s interest immediately by choosing an unexpected, yet brilliantly apt, format for a story of betrayal that is all too tragically familiar.  By employing archaeological field notes to unearth, separate and understand a horrendous event in her past, the author allows readers to see her experience from a new perspective.  In so doing, she bares colonialism and exploitation in stark analytical terms and brings a new reckoning into the memoir.  The young girl’s pain becomes all the more haunting when contained in such an impersonal format.  The author’s skilled use of irony makes the underlying personal experience even more disturbing.  This is truly—as it should be—a timely and devastating work of creative nonfiction.”

Lynne Van Luven (contest judge)

 

September 25, 2018

The Journey Prize Stories:30

“Congratulations again to the 12 incredible emerging writers whose stories appear in the 30th edition of
‘These stories and their authors, with their assured new voices, represent the future of literature in this country. And the future is hopeful.’”

 

Sharon Bala, Kerry Clare, & Zoey Leigh Peterson(Jury members)

 

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March

“Food can be full of pain – and redemption
Brown Sugar,’ a personal story of disordered eating, is set against a monumental artistic exploration of America’s slave history in the form of a sugar sphinx: two food histories full of pain, control and the devaluation of black bodies continuing to unfold.

The battles we face in the kitchen – whether literal wars over valuable crops, fights with ourselves to eat or not eat, or defending our identities against shame or misuse – help shape our worlds.”

-Grace Wang Stack Magazine

2017:

First Place: “A Map of the WorldRoom Magazine’s Creative Nonfiction Contest

“The writer has come up with a fantastic concept to contain a compelling story. The form and content complement each other perfectly. The language is vivid, detailed, and beautiful. The central character, her inner life, and her outer journey, are utterly engaging and moving. Themes of identity, abuse, relationships, and racism are skillfully intertwined. Gorgeous writing.”

Carmen Aguirre (contest judge)

Summer, 2017 long-listed for Prism International’s CNF prize.

2016:

Second Place: “CastawaysPrairie Fire magazine’s 2016 fiction contest

2015:

Second Place: “Whale Song,Room magazine’s 2015 fiction contest.

“Through”Whale Song” runs several big themes of various kinds of abuse and the resulting traumas, yet Abby’s story is eloquently revealed in several poignant episodes. Rowan McCandless manages to bring us into Abby’s heart and mind without melodrama, without wallowing, and shows two sides to this complex character. Sometimes the dictum “show don’t tell” is the cause of too much description, a clear misreading of the directive. But this writer has created a kind of meta-poetry in the handling of a dire situation by making the whale such a real-feeling secondary character. My only quarrel is perhaps the ending, which is, perhaps, too easy—not only in real life, but in the hands of the writer. Somehow, I can accept it, however, because it is in keeping with the use on an idea of the alter ego in the form of the whale.”

Shani Mootoo (contest judge)

 

Interviews: 

 

#5OnFri: Five Questions for an Award-Winning Creative Non-Fiction Writer by Nicole Breit

DIY-MFA published

“Once I started pushing the boundaries of linear storytelling my personal essays were much stronger. They began to find literary homes and win awards. It’s been the case, too, for my student, Rowan Smith-McCandless, who recently won Room magazine’s 2017 CNF contest for her stellar hermit crab essay, “A Map of the World”.

Check out Rowan’s answers to 5 questions I asked about her discoveries exploring CNF for the first time in my course, and the genre’s more experimental forms.”