Canada Writes

Canada Writes Blog

Derek Krismanich (Ontario)

Photo of Derek Krismanich

Canada Writes 07, Finalist

Part one:

My tale begins in Fall 2007. Within a one-month span, I went from being a complete unknown to a relative unknown who was also one of five national finalists on Canada Writes. Along the way...

I wrote about the shocking discovery of a new vowel by a freelance alphabetologist.

I wrote a pitch for a gritty crime drama chronicling one cat’s rise from low-level catnip dealer to head of Toronto’s largest feline crime syndicate.

I read a lot of great material from many talented writers.

I questioned my own abilities as a writer.

I met many of the amazing folks from CBC Radio.

I snuck into Don Cherry’s lavish personal washroom (it’s glorious).

I wrote a comedy monologue likening my family to the Barones on Everybody Loves Raymond. It was called Everybody Loves Derek. (Except for the judges).

I was eliminated in third place.

I demanded a recount...

Part 2:

Being the cagey, battle-hardened Canada Writes veteran that I am, the CBC asked me to impart some wisdom on this year’s flock of contestants. So if you want to finish in third place in this year’s contest, then listen carefully.

Here goes:

  1. Take your time preparing your initial online entries. You have all the time in the world, so make the most of it.
  2. Given the word count restrictions, keep your pieces concise, but don’t compromise quality.
  3. You’re very limited during the timed challenges. 200 words and/or 60 minutes go very quickly. Budget wisely.
  4. If you make it onto the radio, delivery is key. Even if you’re not happy with what you wrote, deliver it as if it’s the greatest thing ever written.
  5. Finally, have fun! You’ll get to read a lot of great material, and if you make it far enough, meet a lot of interesting people. Plus, everyone at the CBC is an absolute pleasure to work with. You’ll have a blast.

Good luck!

How It Works

  1. Write In!

    Out of hundreds and hundreds of entries, just twenty Canadians made it to the Short List and won themselves an audition with Canada Writes. Then eight semi-finalists were picked to play in the Eastern semi-finals and Western/Northern semi-finals.

    Read their winning songs, blogs, ads, rants and movie pitches!

  2. Tune In… or Join Us!

    On March 14th and April 4th, tune in to GO! on CBC Radio One at 10 am (10:30 am NT) for the Eastern and Western/Northern semi-final games in Halifax and Vancouver. The finals will be held in Toronto on April 18th. Or join us at any of the three shows to root for the contestants in person. Go to for tickets.

  3. Play Online!

    The Canada Writes 09 Online Challenge is now over. Thanks for playing!


(Toronto, April 25, 2009)

Canada Writes Finalists

It was a very tight race in the end. Our four finalists fought it out by blog, song, ad and a three-line story. First, they each drew a blog topic, from “the best hundred dollars I ever spent” to “one fact I would like to ‘un-know’”. Challenge number 2 was to re-write a song by Queen, with Valerie Stanois from the musical We Will Rock You bringing power vocals to their surprising new words. Then judges Geri Hall, Terry O’Reilly and Darrell Dennis sent Kaveh Mohebbi through the infamous Trap Door. Challenge number 3 was the radio ad. Clever ads for Cornhobbler’s Crematorium and Juice Bar (obviously not a real business) and Christmas greetings from the makers of Flank Chainsaws won Katie Sanders and Laurie Schwartz a last chance at writing glory, but it was Margaret Beach’s turn to go through the Trap Door. Finally, Laurie and Katie had to come up with the first two lines of a three-line story… on yellow writing pads on their laps…and in 90 seconds….

After weeks of effort and tension and achievement -- from the writing contest in January, through the auditions, the short list, the semi-finals and the finals – it was all over in a couple of minutes. Katie pulled ahead by a crucial point -- and became the winner of Canada Writes 09! Listen to the show! Read the blogs!

Canada Writes Judges

For more photos, go to

Winner of the Online Challenge! Ontario's Heather Smith is the winner of this year's People's Choice Award. Her winning entry was a re-write of the ABBA song 'Waterloo.' Take a look!