Canada Writes

Canada Writes Blog

Katie Sanders (Nelson, BC)

Kaveh Mohebbi

Winner Canada Writes 09

(April 27, 2009) Canada Writes Finals! …It’s hard to know how to wrap this up. I’m having trouble remembering what it feels like to live without the constant stress and excitement of the Canada Writes competition. To be truthful, I know I’m going to miss it. I’m going to miss the random practice challenges from friends and family. I’m certainly going to miss the king size bed in my hotel room in Toronto…

The final round of competition was intense. The writing seemed to be a much greater struggle, the time allowed so much shorter, and my grasp of comedy so tenuous. The other competitors dropped gems of comic prose that left me reeling. And the music round…oh the music round. I like Queen as much as the next girl…but could there possibly be harder lyrics to re-write?!

I can’t thank the CBC enough for the opportunity they afforded so many burgeoning writers. It is a rare chance to step outside of the everyday and of what people expect from you to showcase a talent you didn’t even know you possessed. Also, a huge thank-you and round of applause to the other players. This game would have been like dry toast without you!

(April 6, 2009 ) “Six minutes?!  Seriously, six minutes? You know I’ve had a lovely time with you , and I’m thankful for the muffins, the pizza, the coffee and the laughs…but still, after all we’ve been through, you’re giving me six minutes to complete this challenge?!”

I was appalled. I was sweaty. I was terrified. It was great. I realize that sounds ridiculous, but in all seriousness, I had an amazing time at the Western finals in Vancouver. It isn’t everyday I am allowed to sing and dance, and believe me, I enjoy a good dance party. The other finalists were a treat; the producers were encouraging and clearly a collection of those ‘excess of serotonin’ kind of people. Through pre-show challenges, rehearsal, green room quiet time and the actual recording of the show, we were all made to feel at home within the CBC. I feel inspired and terrified in equal measures. My performance anxiety is wrestling with the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants side of my personality. Moving on in the competition is at once thrilling and terrifying. What can possibly be left for us to write about? Surely, after all we’ve been through, we’ll be given more than six minutes….

(March 6, 2009) I was having a bad day. There were three feet of snow in the yard, my car was buried, there was wood to be chopped and the dogs were going berserk from being cooped up all day. I needed to escape. To have something to do that didn’t involve shoveling, wielding an axe or winter boots. So, on a whim, I entered the Canada Writes contest. It was a desperate move. I hadn’t given any thought to what might happen if anyone liked my story.

Having survived the first round of elimination, a giddy interview over the phone and a second writing challenge, I still have trouble believing that I’m in the game. I’ve been bombarded with practice rounds from friends, writing rants about the state of tomatoes in the produce department and essays on the mating habits of the 40 year old urban male. I create song and dance routines for the pets and wake up in the middle of the night with stories in mind I try blindly to capture before they escape.

Mysteries abound at this point…What will the other semi-finalists be like? What kind of fools will we make of ourselves on live radio? Am I supposed to get dressed up to go on the radio? Will breakfast be included?

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!