Brandon Library’s writing contest winners do it for love

Young authors use literature as one of many outlets to express themselves creatively.

Neither Galli Kubari or Maya Kirby, the winners of the Western Manitoba Regional Library’s 2018 Teen and Youth Short Story Writing Contests, expected to enter their work in the competition.

Both simply have a passion to be creative and writing is just one outlet for them.

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Kirby, an 11-year-old who has been reading since the age of three, won the Youth Division (ages nine to 12) for her story, “Sapphire,” while Kubari was handed top honors in the Teen Division (ages 13-18) with “Nura.” The pair accepted their awards at the Brandon Public Library last week. 

Kubari is a 16-year-old Grade 12 student attending Vincent Massey High School. She started writing fiction and journaling about four years ago. She also likes to draw, sing and play piano and guitar.

“I have read a lot of teen fiction and used to write stories for Wattpad (a website that allows authors to share their work),” Kubari told the Westman Journal.

“At first, ‘Nura’ was just an assignment for English class. I already had a story in mind for a while, so when the assignment came up, I decided to write it. I got help from my teacher, going through feedback and editing. At first, I wasn’t really thinking about putting it into a contest because I didn’t think it was anything special, but my teacher (Kyleigh Bromley) said it was really good so I thought, ‘Why not?’”

Kubari’s work outlines the story of a girl named Nura, an Arabic word meaning “filled with light.” Despite the liveliness of her name, a life-altering accident leaves her deaf and paralyzed. She sinks into a deep depression until a mysterious, kind man enters her life as she recovers. 

“I’m not sure how many stories I’ve written in total, but I do sort of have ideas floating in my mind all the time and when I have a chance, I put them on paper,” said Kubari.

Kirby’s story “Sapphire” is about a world-famous, super spy who has been assigned to face her arch-nemesis. On her way to meet the evil mastermind, she is unable to find her smart watch, but stumbles upon a necklace with a magical sapphire in it. When she touches people, she is able to see portions of their past experiences. 

“I’ve been writing for a long time,” Kirby said. “I started when I was about five writing stories about characters from the television shows I watched or some I made up myself.”

Like Kubari, Kirby never intended to enter her story into the library’s writing competition. She simply came up with an idea, let it develop in her head for a while then wrote it down; just like she has done with other projects. 

“I just write for the fun of it,” she said. “It’s fun creating your own little worlds for characters to live in.”

Kirby’s mother, Allison, has a background in literacy education. She says her daughter’s love of writing comes fairly natural to her. Their home is full of books and reading is a part of daily life in the Kirby household. 

“She’s very creative. She loves to read most of all and the writing has come out of reading so may books,” Allison said. “She’s always creating something; drawing, making a craft, writing. She’s a kids who likes to stay busy.”

Although Kirby reads a mix of fiction and non-fiction books, her passion lays in graphic novels. In fact, the protagonist in “Sapphire” was developed from an idea she intended for a graphic story. 

As far as process goes, Kirby is what is known by some in the fiction writing arena as a “pantser;” someone who doesn’t outline her story but “flies by the seat of her pants” as she works.

“I sit down and write. I go wherever it takes me,” she said. 

Both Kirby and Kubari will read their winning short stories at the Brandon Public Library’s September Open Mic Night on Sept. 24 at 7 p.m.

“Nura” by Galli Kubari, and “Sapphire” by Maya Kirby can be read online at Just click the links provided.

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