Tilya Gallay Helfield’s memoir “Blink” garners prize

Tilya Helfield of Toronto, Canada, recently earned first prize in the non-fiction category of the 2010 OASIS Journal competition for her short memoir “Blink.” Tilya’s story will appear in the most recent edition of OASIS Journal, an annual anthology that showcases creative writing by international writers age 50 and over. It’s published by Tucson, Arizona-based Imago Press.

The ninth annual edition of OASIS is also the largest so far, at more than 400 pages. Imago Press publisher Leila Joiner received a total of 60 fiction entries, 92 non-fiction, and 272 poems, from which she selected the most promising pieces to be sent on for blind-judging—by Robert Longoni (Fiction), Dan Gilmore (Poetry), and me (Non-fiction). Of the 92 non-fiction entries, most of them memoir, less than half went on to the second level of judging.

Tilya was born and raised in Ottawa, and now resides in Toronto. Metaphors for Love, her memoir comprising a collection of short stories, is now being considered for publication by a Toronto publisher, and she recently launched the entertaining blog Take It From Tilya: A Woman’s Survival Guide to Any Era based on a series of newspaper columns she published in two Montreal weekly newspapers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Tilya is one of my past online memoir writing students.

Yet another Canadian, Tiina Heathcock of Dorset, was named first runner-up in the OASIS Journal poetry category. I was pleased to see Tiina’s name again. In 2008 she was first runner-up in my 2008 Days Road Writers’ Workshops “Summer Days” memoir contest for her autobiographical poem “The Journey.”

As an aside — but a memoir-related one — I love this quote from second runner-up in the OASIS Journal fiction category Elisa Drachenberg: ” ‘Are your stories autobiographical?’ My characters range from a food-obsessed lawyer, whose fascination with all things Mother might have delighted Freud, to a skinny, red-haired painter fearful of losing her talent, husband, and health; a clever little girl who gets caught in the tensions of post-war Germany’s search for its missing soldiers; a son of an eminent Dutch writer who prefers soccer to literature; an accident-prone professor who loves motorcycles; a scientist with the uncanny ability to predict the devastation of a hurricane; a grandmother taking revenge on her annoying grandkids… So the answer is a sonorous: yes.”

The new OASIS Journal is available now from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Here’s a complete list of winners and runners-up in the 2010 competition:


Winner: “Searching for Mr. Mistletoe” by Janet E. Irvin, of Centerville, Ohio

First Runner-up: “Squeegee” by R. E. Hayes, of Elgin, Illinois

Second Runner-up: “Food for Thought” by Elisa Drachenberg, of Prescott, Arizona


Winner: “Blink” by Tilya Gallay Helfield, of Toronto, Ontario

First Runner-up: “Flirting with Fiasco” by Ruth Moon Kempher, of St. Augustine, Florida

Second Runner-up: “Mobius Strip” by Janet K. Thompson, of Denver, Colorado


Winner: “Evolution” by Ellaraine Lockie, of Sunnyvale, California

First Runner-up: “today our teacher taught us how to write a letter” by Tiina Heathcock, of Dorset, Ontario

Second Runner-up: “We Deliver” by William Killian, of Tucson, Arizona

About the judges:

Dan Gilmore (Fiction)

Dan Gilmore has published a novel, A Howl for Mayflower (Imago Press, 2006), and a collection of stories and poems, Season Tickets (Pima Press, 2003). He has received awards from the Raymond Carver Fiction Contest, the Martindale Fiction Award, and Sandscript. His poems have appeared in Atlanta Review, Aethlon, Blue Collar Review, The Carolina Review, Rattle, Sandscript, and Still Crazy. Several poems have been anthologized in Loft and Range (Pima Press, 2001). A book of collected and new poems, Love Takes a Bow, was recently published by Imago Press.

Allyson Latta (Non-fiction)

Robert Longoni (Poetry)

Robert Longoni taught at the University of Arizona, directed the university’s poetry center for one year and taught for 23 years at Pima Community College, Tucson, retiring as faculty emeritus. His poems have appeared in periodicals, two anthologies, and his collection of work, Woodpiles. He also has edited two poetry volumes. Longoni is a resident of Chandler, Arizona, and has conducted workshops for Phoenix College, the Writer’s Voice and in western New Mexico, where he spends his summers.

And read my interview on this site with publisher Leila Joiner.


  1. Congratulations Tilya! A well-deserved recognition of your talent. I learned so much from you just being in one of Allyson’s courses together.

    Can’t wait for your book!

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