VMI Alumna Barbara Black Wins Writers’ Union Prose Competition

Barbara Black, 2017 Vancouver Manuscript Intensive alumna, has won The Writers’ Union of Canada Short Prose Competition. Black received a $2,500 cash prize for her story, “His Invertebrate Existence.”

Based out of Victoria, B.C., Black’s work has been shortlisted for The Malahat Review’s 2017 Open Season Awards and her writing has appeared in venues such as CV2 and FreeFall.

The Writers’ Union of Canada established The Short Prose Competition in 1993 in honour of the Union’s 20th anniversary. The Union states that it “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 RobinsonAmy Stuart, and Russell Wangersky.”

Barbara Black, 2017 VMI alumna and winner of the TWUC Short Prose Competition

The jury shared remarks on Black’s winning story: “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

Learn more about Barbara Black and consider working with a Vancouver Manuscript Intensive mentor to develop your prose or poetry. The application deadline for VMI 2018 is November 27, 2017.