Meet the jury for the 2023 New Voices Award!

PEN Canada is now accepting submissions for the 2023 RBC PEN Canada New Voices Award. The award seeks to encourage new writing and to provide a space where unpublished writers (age 17 and over) can submit short stories, creative non-fiction, journalism, and poetry. Eligible writers are invited to submit their work to a jury of distinguished Canadian writers for a chance to win $3,000 CAD and mentorship from an esteemed Canadian author.

Submissions can be made up to midnight on May 5, 2023. More details on how to apply can be found here.

We are excited to announce that this year’s New Voices Award will be judged by authors Jónína Kirton, Chelene Knight and Alexander MacLeod.


Jónína Kirton, an Icelandic and Red River Métis poet and citizen of the Métis Nation of BC currently lives in New Westminster BC, the unceded territory of the Halkomelem speaking peoples. She was born in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Treaty 1, the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, Dene peoples and the homeland of the Métis. She was sixty-one when she received the 2016 Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for an Emerging Artist in the Literary Arts category. Her second collection of poetry, An Honest Woman, was a finalist in the 2018 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Her third book, Standing in a River of Time, merges poetry and lyrical memoir to take us on a journey exposing the intergenerational effects of colonization on her Métis family.


Chelene Knight is the author of Braided Skin (Mother Tongue 2015) the memoir Dear Current Occupant, winner of the 2018 Vancouver Book Award, and long-listed for the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature, and her novel, Junie (Book*hug 2022) long-listed for the inaugural Carol Shields Fiction Prize. Her book Let it Go is forthcoming with HarperCollins Canada in 2024. Her essays have appeared in multiple Canadian and American literary journals, plus the Globe and Mail, the Walrus, and the Toronto Star. Her work is anthologized in Making Room, Love Me True, Sustenance, The Summer Book, and Black Writers Matter, winner of the 2020 Saskatchewan Book Award. Her poem, “Welwitschia” won the 2020 CV2 Editor’s Choice award. She was shortlisted for PRISM’s 2021 short forms contest.

Photo credit: Jon McRae


Alexander MacLeod‘s work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, The Guardian, and The Globe and Mail. His first collection of short stories, Light Lifting, was named a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the Commonwealth Book Prize. A past winner of the O Henry Prize, his most recent collection, Animal Person was recognized as a “Book of the Year” by The New Yorker, The Irish Times, The Globe and Mail and CBC Books.  Alexander lives in Dartmouth and teaches at Saint Mary’s University.

Photo credit: Heather Gionet Crosby