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WGA Conference 2018: REFINING OUR NARRATIVES

How does our current environment--political, cultural, ecological and psychological--affect the role of the writer? Writers are questioners. Writers explore. We adjust focus to pinpoint the right aspect that will produce clarity and refine perspective. Our medium is words. Join us in June as we examine critical thinking and creativity, political writing and opinion pieces, writing through difficult times (and subjects)--and much more!

Last Day to Register is May 29th!

  WHEN:
Conference and AGM June 1 - 3, 2018 
Alberta Literary Awards Gala June 2, 2018
WHERE:
Conference: Memorial Park Library 1221 2 St SW, Calgary
Gala: Hyatt Regency 700 Centre Street SE, Calgary
Accommodation: Fairfield Inn & Suites Calgary Downtown 239 12th Avenue SW Calgary     PARKING:
Two blocks away from the Memorial Park Library there is the City Centre Parkade Lot 25 at 340 10th Ave. The cost is $5 on Fridays (after 11am) and $2/day on both Saturday and SundayClick here for a map of the lot.       SPEAKERS:
We are proud of our presenters and invite you to get to know them! Please click the tabs to view presenter profiles.      
Angie Abdou has a PhD in Creative Writing and is an Associate Professor at Athabasca University. She has published five books of fiction, including the Canada Reads finalist The Bone Cage. Her most recent novel, In Case I Go, was a fiction category finalist for the Banff Mountain Book Award and made "best of 2017" lists by CBC Books and the Writers' Trust. The Vancouver Sun called it "a spectacularly successful novel." Angie's first nonfiction book (Home Ice: Reflections of a Reluctant Hockey Mom) is forthcoming with ECW Press in September 2018.
Dustin is an author hailing from Grande Prairie, where he writes middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction. Having been previously published in comic books, his focus is on speculative fiction and creating fantastic worlds. In addition to his work as President of the Writers' Guild of Alberta, he is also a Developmental Editor for Manning Publications. In his spare time he reads, binge watches Netflix, and keeps a blog at DCArchibald.com where he reviews books, offers writing advice, and highlights technology releases. 
Kelsey Attard is the managing editor of Freehand Books, a literary publisher in Calgary. Freehand publishes literary fiction, short story collections, creative non-fiction, and graphic literature.
Ali Bryan’s first novel, Roost, won the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction and was the official selection of One Book Nova Scotia 2014. Her non-fiction has been shortlisted for the Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Prize and longlisted for the CBC Creative Non-Fiction Prize. She is a certified personal trainer and lives with her family in Calgary.
Sharon Butala is the author of 19 books of fiction and nonfiction and five plays. Born, raised and educated in Saskatchewan, she moved to Calgary in 2008 after her cattle rancher husband's death in order to be near her son and his family. She has been shortlisted for the Governor General's Award three times (once for fiction, twice for nonfiction), shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize (Canada-Caribbean section), and the W.O. Mitchell prize. She received the Marian Engel Prize for Women Writers in Mid-Career, and the Cheryl and Henry Kloppenburg Award for Literary Excellence, as well as a number of other awards and prizes. Her nonfiction work The Perfection of the Morning was on the Canadian bestseller list for a year, and several other of her books have also made bestseller lists. She has done readings and talks all over Canada, in the US, Ireland, Mexico and the Czech Republic and taught workshops in most of the provinces. She is an Officer in the Order of Canada, is invested in the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, and has three honorary doctorates. Her latest book is the mystery Zara's Dead (Coteau Books) and in spring 2019 will have Season of Fury and Wonder (a short story collection) out with Coteau. She is currently working on her eighth novel.
Alison Clarke is a writer/artist who also enjoys painting and drawing. She also experiences life as a spoken word artist. She is the author of The Sisterhood, and the upcoming novel, Racine. Alison has also written children’s picture books – The Adventures of Eli the Elephant, and Eli Goes To The Moon, which she also illustrated. For Alison, life is an interesting journey. Whether she is immersing herself in poetry, prose, or visual art, Alison is at home.
Cobra Collins is a Calgary-based Metis poet of significant height. She was the captain of Calgary’s 2016 Slam team, representing our city on a national level at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and is a member of Calgary’s Inkspot Spoken Word Collective. She is the co-host of Expressions, a poetry open mic night at Cafe Koi, an evening which focuses on creating a space to showcase new artists while building a connected spoken word community.
 Marcello Di Cintio is the author of four books including Walls: Travels Along the Barricades which won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing and the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize. His new book, Pay No Heed to the Rockets: Palestine in the Present Tense, examines life in contemporary Palestine as seen through the lens of literary culture. Di Cintio is a former writer-in-residence with the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program and the Palestine Writing Workshop, and a featured instructor at the Iceland Writers Retreat. (Photo Credit: Monique de St-Croix)
Dr. Patrick Finn is a performance expert cross-appointed between the School of Creative and Performing Arts, and Computational Media Design at The University of Calgary. He has lectured, taught, and led workshops throughout North America, The United Kingdom, Europe, Japan, and China. He works with actors, musicians, dancers, athletes, business leaders, governments, private and public companies, and individuals looking to improve performance. Finn has an active artistic practice, and a scholarly publishing profile. He is currently Chair of Research and Innovation at the Edmonton Digital Arts College, and holds several board appointments related to arts, education and performance.  
Christina Frangou is a freelance magazine writer from Calgary, Alberta, who specializes in writing about health and medicine.  Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Avenue, Swerve, Alberta Views, FASHION, and The Huffington Post. In 2016, she won a National Newspaper Award for long feature writing for a story about her experience as a young widow in the aftermath of her husband’s death. She is the recipient of two Alberta Magazine Publishers Association Awards and has been nominated for a National Magazine Award. A graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and the London School of Economics, Christina is always happier outside than at her desk. She’s a runner, a hiker, a cyclist — although she recently broke her hand while walking with an armload of books.
Lori Hahnel is the author of two novels, Love Minus Zero (Oberon, 2008) and After You’ve Gone (Thistledown, 2014), as well as a story collection, Nothing Sacred (Thistledown, 2009), which shortlisted for an Alberta Literary Award. Her work has been published in over forty journals in North America, Australia and the U.K.; her credits include CBC Radio, The Fiddlehead, Joyland and The Saturday Evening Post. Lori teaches creative writing at Mount Royal University as well as AWCS and is currently on the board of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta.
Shaun Hunter is the author of the forthcoming book Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers, as well as five biographies for young readers. Her work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, carte blanche, Geist and FreeFall, and in the anthologies Embedded on the Home Front: Where Military and Civilian Lives Converge (2012) and Writing Menopause (2017). In 2013 her essay “Skin Deep” was a finalist for the James H. Gray Award for Short Nonfiction. Based in Calgary, Shaun turns up local literary treasures at shaunhunter.ca.  
Hailed by The Globe and Mail as “a masterwork of revelation and catharsis,” Nancy Lee’s first book, Dead Girls was the winner of the VanCity Book Prize, as well as a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, the Pearson Readers’ Choice Award and the Wordsworthy Award. The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Vancouver Sun chose Dead Girls as one of the best books of the year, and Now Magazine named it Book of the Year. Lee’s work has been published in the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. She has served as Visiting Canadian Fellow for the University of East Anglia, as well as Writer-in-Residence for Historic Joy Kogawa House, the City of Richmond and the Ville de Vincennes, France. A dedicated creative writing teacher, Nancy has taught fiction writing to students of all ages and backgrounds in Canada, the U.K. and France, and now holds the position of Assistant Professor in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. She is also the co-creator of the popular three-part EdX online education series, “How to Write a Novel”. Described by The Vancouver Sun as, “utterly transfixing”, Lee’s latest book, The Age, is a novel about adolescence, sexual identity and nuclear war.
 
 Shawna Lemay is the author of The Flower Can Always Be Changing, brief essays, and the novel, Rumi and the Red Handbag which made Harper’s Bazaar’s #THELIST (must-reads for Fall 2015) and was selected for Maria Shriver's fall reading club. All the God-Sized Fruit, her first book of poetry, won the Stephan G. Stephansson Award and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Calm Things: Essays was shortlisted for the Wilfred Eggleston Award for Non-Fiction. She has an M.A. in English from the University of Alberta. She writes a blog titled, Transactions with Beauty.  
Lisa Martin is the author of two poetry collections--One crow sorrow (Brindle & Glass, 2008) and Believing is not the same as Being Saved (UAP, 2017)—and co-editor (with Jessica Hiemstra) of How to Expect What You’re Not Expecting: Stories of Pregnancy, Parenthood, and Loss (Touchwood Editions, 2013). Her work has previously won an Alberta Literary Award for Poetry (2009), a National Magazine Award for Personal Journalism (2012), and an IPPY (Independent Publishers) Book Award (2015), among other distinctions. She is currently a Vanier Scholar in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta.
Professor Clem Martini is an award-winning playwright, novelist, and screenwriter with over thirty plays, and twelve books of fiction and nonfiction to his credit, including the Calgary Book Award-winning Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness and the recently launched The Unravelling, and The Comedian. His texts on playwriting, The Blunt Playwright, The Greek Playwright, and The Ancient Comedians are employed widely at universities and colleges across the continent. He currently teaches in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary.
Suzette Mayr is the author of five novels, including her most recent book Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall. Her novel Monoceros won the ReLit and the City of Calgary W. O. Mitchell Awards, and was nominated for the 2011 Giller Prize, the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction, and Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction. Her novel The Widows was a finalist for the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book in the Canada-Caribbean region. She is a former president of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta, and she has been teaching creative writing at the University of Calgary since 2003.
 Laura Mills is the founder and head writer of Making Queer History, with a successful Patreon and website that fund her project. She also runs a podcast alongside this and has worked as a freelance writer for a couple of years. She knows both the business and creative end of the writing world and has worked to provide other burgeoning writers with as many opportunities as possible. She currently resides in Edmonton with her three cats and fiancé, where they go out dancing, and stay in with good books and large sweaters in equal measure.
 Lisa Murphy-Lamb has a Bachelor of Education from the University of Calgary and a Masters of Education (Inclusive Education) from McGill University. She taught with the Calgary Board of Education, Bow Valley College, Mount Royal University as well she consulted privately. For five years, Lisa was the Director of WordsWorth Creative Writing Residency for Youth, a summer program for teen writers sponsored by the Writers’ Guild of Alberta. She continues to mentor teen writers with The Tent Peg Reading Series; is a founding member of the People’s Poetry Festival and Loft on EIGHTH a micro-press which publishes 30 times a year and hosts monthly readings.  Currently she is director of Loft 112, a literary creative space in Calgary's East Village. Her novel, Jesus on The Dashboard (Stonehouse Publishing) came out October, 2017.
 Julie Sedivy has been steering between opposing forces her entire life—between languages, culture, disciplines, and viewpoints. She is even a middle child. Born in the Czech Republic, she was raised in Montreal, went on to train as a language scientist in the U.S., and then left an academic career to become a writer. Her essays, which have been published in outlets like NautilusScientific American, and Discover, move between the scientific and the literary, often fusing the two. She is co-editor, along with Rona Altrows, of the upcoming book Waiting: An Anthology of Essays, and is writing a scientific memoir about language loss and reclamation. She loves the productive tension of opposing perspectives, and to cultivate it more broadly, she founded and currently leads a public Calgary-based book club (How Can You Think That?!?) in which participants exchange views on controversial political topics.
 Andrew Steinmetz is a program officer with literature expertise at the Canada Council for the Arts. He currently works in the Explore & Create program and administers Research and Creation creative writing grants. He is the author of five books, including two collections of poetry, a memoir and a novel, Eva’s Threepenny Theatre, which won the 2009 City of Ottawa Book Award and was a finalist for the 2009 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. His literary non-fiction book This Great Escape was a finalist for the 2013 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction. He was the founding editor of Esplanade Books (2003-2013), the literary fiction imprint at Véhicule Press.
Matthew Stepanic is the editor of Glass Buffalo, the poetry editor for Eighteen Bridges, and a freelance writer/editor. His poetry has appeared in Eighteen BridgesThe New Quarterly, and others, and his first book—the collaborative novel Project Compass, written with three other authors—was published by Monto Books in Fall 2017. 
Cassie Stocks was the winner of the Leacock Medal for Humour for her first novel Dance, Gladys, Dance. The novel was also nominated for a Saskatchewan first book award and long-listed for CBC Canada Reads. 
Geo Takach is a writer, filmmaker, speaker, instructor, and former president of the WGA (2000–2001). His hundreds of publications span speeches, print, film, radio, television and Boolean ether. His epic exploration of Alberta’s soul produced a documentary film (Will the Real Alberta Please Stand Up? for City TV), an award-winning book (unoriginally bearing the same title, for the U of A Press), an award-winning dissertation (at the U of C), and a migraine (for himself). His most recent books are Scripting the Environment (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) and Tar Wars (U of A Press, 2017). After decades of deconstructing his beloved Alberta and teaching diverse aspects of communication here, he recently crossed the Rockies to become an associate prof in the School of Communication and Culture at Royal Roads University.
 Chris Turner is an author, speaker and strategist, providing Canada’s authoritative voice on climate change solutions and the global energy transition. His latest book is The Patch: The People, Pipelines and Politics of the Oil Sands, a national bestseller. He is also the author of the bestsellers The Leap: How to Survive and Thrive in the Sustainable Economy and The Geography of Hope: A Tour of the World We Need, both of which were National Business Book Award finalists. His 2014 book How to Breathe Underwater, an essay collection, won the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize. His feature reporting on energy, climate and sustainability issues has won nine National Magazine Awards and appeared in The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Globe & Mail, The Walrus, Canadian Geographic, and many other publications. He was a 2013 writer-in-residence at the Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon. He lives in Calgary with his wife and two children.    
Erin Emily Ann Vance is a poet and freelance writer from Black Diamond, Alberta. Her articles have appeared in Grip, Edmonton Women’s Magazine, and Calgary Senior News, and her poetry has appeared in literary journals all across North America and Indonesia. She works with children and adults on the autism spectrum, and runs a creative writing program out of the Autism Aspergers Friendship Society. She is approaching the end of her BA Honours in English with a creative writing concentration at the University of Calgary, and is completing a verse memoir about mountaineering for her thesis.​ Erin currently works in the University of Calgary Archives and Special Collections. She is the editor of Honey Pot: A Journal of Intersectional Feminism and the Creator of Bright Star Literary Jewelry.
 Aritha van Herk's novels include JudithThe Tent Peg, No Fixed Address (nominated for the Governor General's Award for fiction), Places Far From Ellesmere (a geografictione) and Restlessness. Her critical works, A Frozen Tongue (ficto-criticism) and In Visible Ink (crypto-frictions), stretch the boundaries of the essay and interrogate questions of reading and writing as aspects of narrative subversion. With Mavericks: an Incorrigible History of Alberta (winner of the Grant MacEwan Author's Award), van Herk ventured into new territory, transforming history into a narratological spectacle. That book frames the new permanent exhibition that opened at the Glenbow Museum in 2007. Her latest works, In This Place and Prairie Gothic (with photographer George Webber), develop the idea of geographical temperament as tonal accompaniment. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence, recipient of the Lt. Governor’s Distinguished Artist Award, and recipient of the Lorne Pierce Medal, awarded to recognize achievement of special significance and conspicuous merit in imaginative or critical literature in Canada. Aritha van Herk's work is particularly recognized for her innovative approaches to prose and cross-genre writing. She is well known in the broader community of the city, the province, and the country as a writer and a public intellectual. Aritha teaches Creative Writing, Canadian Literature and Contemporary Narrative at the University of Calgary.     
John Vigna’s first book of fiction, Bull Head, was published to critical acclaim in Canada and the US in 2012 and published in France by Éditions Albin Michel in 2017 (Loin de la violence des hommes). It was selected by Quill & Quire as an editor’s pick of the year and was a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. John was named one of 10 writers to watch by CBC Books. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and is an alumnus of the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. Vigna has served as an adjudicator for the CBC Literary Awards, the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, and BC Book Prizes and Alberta Literary Awards. He’s an Instructor (tenure-track) in the UBC Creative Writing program.
Deborah Willis's latest collection of fiction, The Dark and Other Love Stories, was published in 2017 by Penguin in Canada and W.W. Norton in the US. The Dark was longlisted for The Giller Prize, and named one of the best books of the year by The Globe and MailChatelaine, and the CBC. Her first book, Vanishing and Other Stories, was shortlisted for a Governor General's Award and praised by Alice Munro for its "range and depth...clarity and deftness." Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The Iowa ReviewThe Virginia QuarterlyThe Wall Street JournalLucky PeachThe Walrus, and Zoetrope. She has been Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calgary, the Submissions Coordinator for Freehand Books, and is now Writer in Residence at MacEwan University in Edmonton. She is currently working on a novel.      
 Sheri-D Wilson is the award-winning author of eleven books, the creator of four short films, and has released three albums which combine music and poetry. She is known for her electric performance-style, making her a favorite of festivals around the world. Shas read, performed & taught in festivals across Canada, USA, UK, France, Spain, Belgium, Mexico, and South Africa.  In her poems, Wilson uses personal narrative to address themes of personal story, social justice, lost languages, bullying, violence against women and the earth. In 2017, she received her Doctor of Letters—Honoris Causa from Kwantlen University, after launching her new collection of poetry entitled, The Book of Sensations (U of C Press), and a full-length CD with poetry and music called Dragon Rouge. Her tenth collection of poetry, Open Letter: Woman against Violence against Women; was short-listed for the Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award & CanLit. Her collection, Re:Zoom (2005), won the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry. She was editor of the celebrated, The Spoken Word Workbook: inspiration from poets who teach. Recipient of: 2017 Honorary Doctorate * 2015 City of Calgary Arts Award * 2015 Writer-In-Residence (Kwantlen University) * 2013 CBC Top 10 Poets in Canada * 2009 Ted Talk * 2006 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry * 2005 SpoCan Poet of Honour * People's Choice * 2006 Woman of Vision * 5 Rosies * 2003 USA Heavyweight Title * 5 Jessie Nominations * Ace Award. Her work has received national and international acclaim with such honours as a 2013 feature interview with Canadian icon Shelagh Rogers, a 2012 article in Chatelaine Magazine, a 2012 TED Talk, and the subject of a half-hour documentary called Heart of a Poet. In 2009 she was named one of the top ten poets in Canada by CBC. sheridwilson.com  
Shelley Youngblut connects smart, funny people with life-changing ideas as the CEO & Creative Ringleader of Wordfest. In partnership with the Calgary Public Library, she is transforming Alberta’s oldest library into a vibrant arts and culture hub. Shelley was the founding editor of VOX and the award-winning Swerve magazine, and has created magazines for ESPN, Cosmopolitan, Nickelodeon, and The Globe & Mail. She is also the author of three sports books. A former pop culture correspondent for ABC World News Now and Canada AM, she is unconventionally opinionated on CBC Calgary’s Eyeopener. She is currently working on a memoir about poker, parenting, regret and forgiveness. It will be funnier than it sounds.
REGISTRATION: Read More about Refining Our Narratives Register Now

Why Attend a WGA Conference?

We know that a writer needs to reflect, imagine, try things out, listen, go deep, get into flow--be in solitude. But writers also need time and space to meet one another, share experiences and knowledge, meet with an editor to see if they're on the right track, and to grow professionally. This is what our conference offers. We make every effort to plan relevant professional development sessions, engaging keynote speakers, and time for welcoming and celebrating writers. We'd love to have you as part of our Alberta writing community.

Testimonials

Here is what our attendees have said:

Being around other writers gives me energy and refocuses me. Gets me back on track about my own writing. Gives me new ideas, new contacts and brings me up to date with what's happening in the literary world. i.e.... I didn't know there was a 'one page novel!"

It is a wonderful way to network with fellow writers in the writing community."

It is the place where we put dimension to our online contacts and studies in the literary arts. It is where we re-assert our identity as writers."

It's a wonderful weekend of community, something we all need once in a while. The WGA has many different members' opinions and tastes to attend to, and the conference manages to cover a pretty good range of them. Plus, WGA members and conference speakers all seem open and friendly to meeting new-to-them writers. It's a great chance to build one's community and resource bank."

The blue pencil alone was worth the price of admission for me. The wordplay and keynote speech were also good information and a lot of fun. I think writers can learn a lot and have fun with these kinds of formats."

If you belong to an organization, you don't get much value for your membership fee if you don't take part. And the annual conference is the best way of taking part in a whole lot of things in one swoop."

Videos

 

Inclusivity

The WGA conference is open to all adult and young adult writers. We make an effort to cover a wide range of topics relevant to contemporary writers, and to hold our meetings in accessible venues.

Our equity committee is working on a more comprehensive statement on inclusivity.

 

Sponsors

The WGA is grateful to the following: