Hart House Literary Contest

The University of Toronto’s Hart House Literary Contest is an annual literary tradition that gives emerging writers of the Hart House community an opportunity to have their work professionally reviewed by a panel of judges.

The 2022 Hart House Literary Contest was open for submissions from January 1, 2022 to January 25, 2022.

2022 literary contest Winners

Prose Winners

1st Prize: “On Turning Twenty” by Kaitlyn Matthews

“Painted in gentle yet stinging flashes of honest feeling, ‘On Turning Twenty’ is that rare piece of work, a doorway into a life other than your own, yet becoming ever more familiar through the intimacy of its prose and the subtle empathy that informs its story. As the author illustrates a body freshly minted into adulthood stumbling into the world, so too does the reader stumble into this private space, where becoming lost in the authors words take on an uncomfortable sensation of coming home again, for the first time.” —Ben Berman Ghan, Prose Judge

2nd Prize: “Colour Theory” by Mathea Treslan

“‘Colour Theory’ is a psychological story that, in yielding the heroine’s fluctuating thoughts in regards to life-changing news, resists any static, black-and-white definition, but allows her shifts in consciousness to negotiate a fluid, prismatic flux. Realism shadows surrealism.” —George Elliot Clarke, Prose Judge

3rd Prize: “Maloik” by Veronica Marie Spada

“‘Maloik’ comes alive through the author’s colourful use of language and sensory detail, while the narrative voice succinctly captures a child’s embarrassment, confusion and pride as their family navigates the world outside. A story that wears its heart on its sleeve in a refreshing and moving way.” —Natalie Jenner, Prose Judge

Poetry Winners

1st Prize: “Rituals” by Elaine Lee

“‘Rituals’ is open and intimate, tender yet brutally honest in revealing raw moments of vulnerability, selfhood, and resilience amidst sickness. Written in gentle rhythms while detailing stark images, each line of verse will ‘enclose [you] in an embrace’ and show you how poetry can be candid and blunt. This poem resists language that covers up who we are or how we feel, and encourages us to re-discover the sincerity of words, the healing potential of everyday conversation, to free one another ‘from the burden of / resisting gravity.'” —Antonia Facciponte, Poetry Judge

2nd Prize: “Conversion Therapy by Sagal Mohamoud

“In just 7 lines, ‘Conversion Therapy’ manages to ‘convert’ a sexual assault into an assertion of pride in queer sexuality, while still leaving room for questions about heritage and language that reverberate long after the poem is complete. Like Lucille Clifton, the poet summoned in its epigraph, this poem uses concise language to address complex problems, with precision that packs a poignant punch.” —Adam Sol, Poetry Judge

3rd Prize: “Quench” by Jun Ying Wen

“What a sumptuous sensory experience this poem is! To smell the sprig of myrtle, to spy the firefly’s belly, to hear the jukebox play. Ferocious in its feeling, ‘Quench’ draws the reader inescapably into the narrator’s perspective, visiting scene after vividly coloured scene of bitterness, yearning, and determination. The use of white space gives each phrase an intensity, a gravity all to its own; the world of this poem is vast and yet achingly intimate, waiting to unfold in the mind and heart. A gorgeous, sharp-edged read.” —Sienna Tristen, Poetry Judge

2022 literary contest honourable mentions

Prose Honourable Mentions

“Haircut” by Genevieve De Giorgio

“The joys of friendship are deftly portrayed against the backdrop of one of life’s more ordinary activities, showing how a shared experience, mutual trust and the ability to be vulnerable to another can strengthen and inspire us.” —Natalie Jenner, Prose Judge

“Grateful” by Anastasia Kasirye

“Grateful is a palpably intelligent work that respects the intelligence of its reader by providing daring shifts in perspective and just the right amount of detail, all of it culminating in a wallop of an ending that will haunt you for days.” —Natalie Jenner, Prose Judge

Poetry Honourable Mention

“Lineage” by Sagal Mohamoud

“Ambitious and experimental in form, yet evoking tradition in its content, this poem has a grand capacity to hold opposing tensions in balance. With its many possible combinations and juxtapositions, ‘Lineage’ is a visceral experience that invites the reader to engage, to wander the lines like a floorplan, seeking meaning around every corner. It’s hard to decide which segment makes the biggest impression: ‘the curves of your body’ turning immediately into a sharp right angle, or the literally-central question on the fall of man, or perhaps the hauntingly-spaced ‘Lineage knows.’ Knows what? What does it know that you don’t? Let the poem linger in you and find out.” —Sienna Tristen, Poetry Judge

“Canlit Eulogy: A Love Letter” by Anna Sokolova

“This wry villanelle has a deft control of its difficult form, and artfully challenges some of the clichés of our literary moment, while exposing just enough of its broken heart to anchor its cleverness with real intimacy and longing.” —Adam Sol, Poetry Judge

Prizes (2022 contest)

Prose Category Contest Prize

1st Prize: $150 and publication in the Hart House Review

2nd Prize: $100 and publication on the Review’s website

3rd Prize: $50 and publication on the Review’s website

Poetry Category Contest Prizes

1st Prize: $150 and publication in the Hart House Review

2nd Prize: $100 and publication on the Review’s website

3rd Prize: $50 and publication on the Review’s website

Submission Guidelines (2022 contest)

The Hart House Literary Contest is open to the Hart House community (U of T students and members in good standing), excluding judges and professional writers (i.e. Those who have earned more than $1000 for their writing).

The first-place winners of each category will be published in the Spring issue of the Hart House Review, and second and third place winners will be published on the Review’s website. All winners of each category will receive a cash prize.

All entrants to the contest are automatically submitted to the Hart House Review and will thus also be evaluated for publication in the Review by the Review’s editorial board.

All entrants are invited to the Hart House Review’s launch and awards presentation. The contest winners will be announced at the launch and will be invited to read their work during the spoken-word portion of the evening.

All entries must:

  • Be original work, be the property of the author, and not have been previously published.
  • Be submitted through the official contest Google Form (will be posted January 1, 2022).
  • The author’s name must appear only on the Entry Form. The author’s submission(s) must not contain any identifying information. 
  • Authors may enter one of the following submission packages:
    1. One work of prose (of up to 1500 words).
    2. Up to three works of poetry (of up to a total of 250 lines).
    3. A combination of one work of prose (of up to 1500 words) and up to two works of poetry (of up to a
    total of 250 lines). This package must not exceed a total of three pieces.
  • Be submitted as a .doc or .docx file (you may also add a .pdf file, especially if specific layout is essential to your piece).
  • Prose works must be double-spaced, 12pt Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins all around.
  • Poetry works may be single-spaced (no font, size, or margin specifications). One poem per page, no matter how small. Longer works may span multiple pages.
  • Submitted by 11:59 PM (EST) on January 25, 2022.

Hart House Literary Contest Diversity Mandate

The Hart House Literary Contest welcomes submissions from writers of the Hart House community who come from marginalized backgrounds, including 2SLGBTQIA+, BIPOC, immigrant, refugee, and women members, as well as members with physical and mental disabilities. We acknowledge the intersectional oppressions that members experience based on their identities and the oppressions that deny marginalized writers a platform for self-expression, exploration, and representation.

We encourage marginalized writers to submit their work to the contest—we want to hear from you!