Monday, May 25, 2015


There's a misconception that today's teens don't write as much as previous generations did, but there has probably never been a time when so many teens have spent so much of their surplus time reading and writing. Conservative estimates suggest that the average teen texts in excess of a 350,000 words annually. Even at half that many words, most teens are writing the equivalent of a solid novel each year. This is in addition to writing for school and other activities. Clearly the problem isn't getting teens to write. It's offering them the opportunities to write that they find meaningful.

This is why Vocamus Press and the Guelph Public Library have begun collaborating to revitalize the library's long-running Teen Writing Contest. Last year we began by having the collection of winners and runners-up rebranded as The ETCH Anthology, a professionally published volume that marks a first publishing credit for most of the teens involved. We also ran a launch party that included appearances by local authors and musicians. The event was such a success that submissions to the contest almost tripled in 2015.

This year we've added an element to the program where the winners and runners-up are paired with local professional writers to do an editorial pass on their stories. Not only will this improve the overall quality of the collection, but it will offer the young writers a chance to experience something of the process involved in submitting to journals and magazines.

The resulting collection, The ETCH Anthology 2015, will be launched on Saturday May 30 at 1:00 PM in the main branch of the public library. Local authors Kira Vermond, Valerie Senyk, and Douglas Davey will be on hand to announce the winning entries, and Miriam Snow will provide music. There will also be refreshments available through the J.O.E. employment program, and people will have a chance to buy their very own copies of the collection, fresh from the press.

Next year, we'd like to launch a website that will function as a hub for teen writers in the Guelph area, not just for the GPL contest but also for high school writing courses, extra-curricular writing clubs, other library programs, or even community groups. The site would allow teens to share their work with each other and with the broader community as well.

If you're interested to know more about the program, please contact Elissa Davidson of the Guelph Public Library at or Jeremy Luke Hill of Vocamus Press at

- Jeremy Luke Hill

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