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Celebrate Shakespeare's 450th birthday with the Shakespeare Selfie Challenge

PLEASE NOTE: THE CHALLENGE IS NOW CLOSED. Thanks to everyone for your submissions. Eric Walters and Alexi Zentner now have the difficult task of wading through the entries to pick two winners. Stay tuned to Canada Writes!

April 23rd marks the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare—and Canada Writes is saluting the Bard with a month-long writing challenge. We're giving away a ton of prizes... including not one, but two iPad minis.

“Shakespeare Selfie” writing challenge for Canadians

You may think that Shakespeare wouldn't understand what a selfie was. Well, we beg to differ. Shakespeare took selfies all the time—but instead of a camera, he used a quill. And instead of calling them "selfies," they were called "soliloquies."  From now until May 9, Canada Writes is asking Canadians to take a Shakespearean character, situate him or her in a present-day scenario, and write a new soliloquy or monologue for that character. (A little rusty on what a soliloquy is versus a monologue? Here you go.)

shakespeare selfie-small body.jpg
Illustration: Graham Roumieu

What would Hamlet mutter under his breath if he had been dragged to a bad poetry-slam event? What choice bon mots would Caliban unleash after his Plymouth Reliant breaks down on the Trans-Canada? We want to know in this writing challenge.

We don't expect you to write in Shakespearean language or iambic pentameter. You can if you'd like to, but it's not required. After all, that's not the way we speak or write nowadays. We're looking for you to write about these characters as if they were alive in the present day. 


  • Word count: 200 to 400 words
  • Challenge open to Canadians aged 12 and over 
  • Submission period: The challenge is now closed


  • iPad-Mini.JPG"Shakespeare Selfie" tote bags, Canada Writes journals and books by Canadian young-adult authors throughout the challenge

  • Grand prizes: TWO iPad minis—one for entrants aged 12 to 18 and one for entrants aged 19 and up


Walters w book.jpg
Our judge for the youth category (12-18) of the challenge is Canadian YA author Eric Walters, who's written over 80 bestselling young-adult and children's books. Want a leg up on the competition? Read Eric's thoughts on Shakespeare.

Zentner headshot small.jpegGovernor General's Literary Award finalist Alexi Zentner is our judge for the adult category (19+). His latest book, The Lobster Kings, is a modern-day riff on "King Lear" told by Cordelia Kings, the heiress of her family's lobster-fishing business. Want a leg up on the competition? Read Alexi's thoughts on Shakespeare.

Shakespeare-high-group-small.pngLooking for inspiration? Canada Writes is pleased to present "Shakespeare High": new, original short fiction from some of the country’s leading YA authors. Their stories each take a different Shakespearean character and situate him or her in the present day, recasting him or her in contemporary YA fiction—from a reluctant Petruchio on a blind double date to a depressed Ophelia chatting with a telemarketer.

Illustration: Graham Roumieu

Stay tuned to Canada Writes

Be sure to follow Canada Writes on Facebook and Twitter. Throughout the challenge, we'll be publishing picks of the day and keeping you up to date on judges and other details. So go forth, fare thee well and get writing! 

Alexi Zentner photo credit: Laurie Willick


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