About Bywords

Bywords.ca is an online magazine which comes out on the 15th of each month and publishes emerging and established poets who are either past or current Ottawa residents, students and workers. Bywords.ca reflects Ottawa's rich multicultural diversity. Poems published between August and September of the following year are considered for the John Newlove Poetry Award. We publish a chapbook by the recipient of the award each year and that chapbook is launched at the John Newlove Poetry Award Ceremony at the Ottawa International Writers Festival each autumn. The magazine also includes reviews of current Canadian poetry books and chapbooks.

 In addition to the monthly poetry magazine, we host a calendar which publishes literary, spoken word, story telling and nonfiction events, a news page for calls for submission, new book and chapbook notices by local publishers, workshops and contests for writers, and a guide to accessible venues for literary events held in Ottawa. 

Bywords.ca’s mission is to publish the poetry of current and former Ottawa residents, students and workers and to promote Ottawa’s literary, spoken word, storytelling and nonfiction activities. We encourage all those with an Ottawa connection to submit unpublished poetry.  We particularly welcome the work of writers of colour, 2SLGBTQIA writers, disabled writers, Indigenous writers, women and gender non-conforming writers. We acknowledge and are outraged that your voices have been ignored and often are still silenced by the Canadian literary establishment and wish to do our part to end the suppression and oppression of those who have been marginalized in Canada. If you have ideas on how we can improve this statement or do more to show our commitment to the representation of diverse writers, please e-mail me, Amanda Earl, Managing Editor at amanda@byword.ca.

Bywords.ca will not tolerate expressions of hate and prejudice either in our pages or in response to the work on social media. We won’t tag contributors on social media without their permission and if we see hateful responses to them, we will report the perpetrators.


Bywords was founded in the Fall of 1990 by a group of editors, staff, students, and alumni of the University of Ottawa. The group was brought together by Heather Ferguson of Agawa Press, Seymour Mayne of the Department of English, and Gwen Guth, a doctoral graduate in the Department.

The Bywords.ca team is a dedicated group of motivated volunteers.  Bywords.ca is a literary hub for the City of Ottawa.

The editors of Bywords welcome all submissions. No one approach or group of writers is given preference. Instead, Bywords is open to all practitioners of the genre and attempts to reflect the diversity of practice in the Ottawa area.

We need reliable volunteers to join our selection committee.  If you have poetry academic or publishing credentials, and wish to volunteer, please e-mail volunteers@bywords.ca or amanda@bywords.ca

We acknowledge that we operate on traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg people.

The Bywords Team
Steering Committee
  • Heather Ferguson
  • Gwen Guth
  • Amanda Earl
  • Charles Earl
Managing Editor
  • Amanda Earl [amanda at bywords dot ca]
  • Charles Earl
Selection Committee
  • Jesse Aubin
  • Dan Boland
  • Ellen Chang-Richardson
  • Margo Lapierre
  • Stephanie Mason
  • Kemisha Newman
  • Jade Riordan
  • Helen Robertson
  • Marjorie Silverman
  • Carol A. Stephen
  • JC Sulzenko