The Writers’ Guild of Alberta administers the annual Alberta Literary Awards every year to recognize outstanding Alberta writing. We also administer several additional awards throughout the year. Visit each award’s page below for more information and submission guidelines.
Alberta Literary Awards
The Writers’ Guild of Alberta is excited to announce the finalists for the 2019 Alberta Literary Awards and Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize. Each year, the Alberta Literary Awards and the City of Edmonton recognize and celebrate the highest standards of literary excellence from Alberta and Edmonton authors.
Winners will be announced and awards presented at the Alberta Literary Awards Gala on Saturday, June 8, 2019 at the Coast Edmonton Plaza Hotel in Edmonton in conjunction with the WGA annual conference, Writing Across Worlds.
The WGA would like to send our congratulations to those whose work is on this year’s Alberta Literary Awards shortlists! We look forward to celebrating your creativity and hard work, and we will do all we can to spread the word about the wonderful writing you did in 2018. Our awards celebration is not just one night; it is a full and robust season of honouring and “getting to know” these authors and their amazing work. Shortlist reading events will be held this spring in Edmonton on May 5 and in Calgary on May 15.
Our juries deliberated on more than 190 submissions to select the following 24 finalists in eight categories. Finalists represent excellence in literary work written by Alberta authors and published or created in 2018. We encourage you to check out these fantastic titles!
The Alberta Literary Awards
Deadline: The awards are now closed to submissions
The 2019 Alberta Literary Awards Shortlist
R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature (Picture Books) - Sponsored by Under the Arch Youth Foundation Fund at Calgary Foundation
- Jenny Keith (Edmonton) – Day Cat, Night Cat, Friesen Press
- Mike Kerr (Calgary) – Crafty Llama, Bloomsbury/Raincoast Books
- Nhung Tran-Davies (Calmar) – Ten Cents a Pound, Second Story Press
James H. Gray Award for Short Nonfiction
- Wendy McGrath (Edmonton) – “Alterations,” Waiting: An Anthology of Essays, University of Alberta Press
- Roberta Rees (Calgary) – “Bones, Honey,” Waiting: An Anthology of Essays, University of Alberta Press
- Chris Turner (Calgary) – “Up in the Air,” Globe and Mail
Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Story in Memory of Vanna Tessier - Supported by Guy Tessier
- Rona Altrows (Calgary) – “To Jesus from Aristides de Sousa Mendes,” Now or Never Publishing
- Richard Kemick (Calgary) – “Hello, Horse,” The Fiddlehead
- Thomas Wharton (Sherwood Park) – “Fort Mac,” Agnes and True
Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry - Sponsored by Stephan V. Benediktson
- A. B. Dillon (Calgary) – Matronalia, Thistledown Press
- Anna Marie Sewell (Edmonton) – For the Changing Moon, Thistledown Press
- Kelly Shepherd (Edmonton) – Insomnia Bird, Thistledown Press
Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Award - Supported by the WGA Board of Directors
- Falon Fayant (Redwater) – “Sometimes, I’m Afraid”
- Leslie Greentree (Edmonton) – “Pink Smock Stories”
- Trina Moyles (Peace River) – “Herd Memory”
Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama - Sponsored by Alberta Views Magazine
- Collin Doyle (Edmonton) – Let the Light of Day Through
- David Gagnon Walker (Edmonton) – Premium Content
- Cat Walsh (Edmonton) – Fetch
Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction
- Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung (Edmonton) – Homes: A Refugee Story, Freehand Books
- Marcello Di Cintio (Calgary) – Pay No Heed to the Rockets, Goose Lane Editions
- Shawna Lemay (Edmonton) – The Flower Can Always Be Changing, Palimpsest Press
Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction - Sponsored by the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity
- Fran Kimmel (Lacombe) – No Good Asking, ECW Press
- Clem Martini (Calgary) – The Comedian, University of Calgary Press
- Joshua Whitehead (Calgary) – Jonny Appleseed, Arsenal Pulp Press
At the same time, the WGA will also be presenting the Golden Pen Award.
The Alberta Literary Awards were created by the Writers’ Guild of Alberta in 1982 to recognize excellence in writing by Alberta authors. Entries are judged by an independent jury recruited by the WGA. Submissions are evaluated on originality, creativity, and quality of writing, as well as appropriate fit within a category.
The Writers' Guild of Alberta gratefully acknowledges the supporters and sponsors of our 2018 Alberta Literary Awards (listed below).
If you are interested in becoming an award sponsor, gala sponsor, or donor, please contact Carol Holmes.
Golden Pen Award
The Writers’ Guild of Alberta Golden Pen Award is presented to acknowledge the lifetime achievements of outstanding Alberta writers. Past recipients are W. O. Mitchell, Grant MacEwan, Rudy Wiebe, Myrna Kostash, Robert Kroetsch, Merna Summers, Aritha van Herk, Fred Stenson, George Melnyk, Alice Major, Betty Jane Hegerat, Greg Hollingshead, and Cecelia Frey.
Deadline: This award is now closed
The 2019 recipient is Bob Stallworthy.
WGA membership: 1985 to present
WGA Lifetime membership: 1988 to present
WGA Board member: 2003 – 2004
From 1985 – 1990 Bob travelled the WGA Book Display to teachers’ conventions and book fairs from Grande Prairie and Cold Lake to Lethbridge and Medicine Hat and places in between.
In 1988 he was a member of the Literary Festival connected with the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary.
In 1991 Bob established the WGA office in Calgary and ran it until 1996. During that time, the Calgary office organized a multitude of events including, a Calgary Stroll of Poets, Freedom to Read celebrations, hosted four visiting Russian writers, and was a member of the steering committee of WordFest in 1996.
Bob has four books of poetry published: Under the Sky Speaking, Snowapple Press, 1998; and From a Call Box, 2001; Optics, 2004; Things that Matter Now, 2009; each published by Frontenac House. Optics was short listed for The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize in 2004 and Things that Matter Now was short listed for The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize and the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry in 2009.
1996 – First prize, Poetry (Adult category), Alberta Winter Games, Lethbridge, AB
2002 – Freedom of Expression Award, Calgary, AB
As well as the books, Bob has written book reviews for the Calgary Herald, magazine articles, the first three Teacher’s Guides for WordFest, an e-book, In Silhouette, Profiles of Alberta Writers, and a history of the first 30 years of the WGA.
Bob has given over 250 readings and workshops around Alberta in schools and libraries. He was a weekend Writer-in-Residence in Drumheller in 2005.
Bob and his wife, Marilyn, worked with Rose and David Scollard at Frontenac House for 10 years.
– “Thursday Night Poetry group” facilitated by poet/professor/ mentor, Richard Harrison.
– Writers’ Union of Canada
– When Words Collide, Board Member, 2011– 2016
Since 2013 he has been a Patient/Family Advisor, with the Kidney Health, Strategic Clinical Network, Alberta Health Services. He is also a caregiver for his wife who suffered traumatic kidney failure in 2013. He has completed a poetry manuscript entitled Impact Statement which deals with the issues of the five years between 2013 and 2018.
Supported by Aritha van Herk.
The Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize
The Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize was established by the City Council in 1995 and is administered by the Writers' Guild of Alberta. The prize was renamed in 2011 after the late Robert Kroetsch, who was best known for his Governor General's Award-winning novel, The Studhorse Man. Entries are judged by an independent jury recruited by the Writers' Guild of Alberta. The winning author will receive a $10,000 cash prize. The award is sponsored by Audreys Books and the Edmonton Arts Council. The winner will be announced and the prize awarded in the spring of 2019.
Deadline: Submissions are now closed
The 2019 Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize Shortlist
- Carissa Halton – Little Yellow House, University of Alberta Press
- Alice Major – Welcome to the Anthropocene, University of Alberta Press
- Kelly Shepherd – Insomnia Bird, Thistledown Press
The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize
Deadline: Submissions are now closed
2018 City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize Finalists:
Pay No Heed to the Rockets, Marcello Di Cintio, Goose Lane Editions
The Tiger Flu, Larissa Lai, Arsenal Pulp Press
Tar Swan, David Martin, NeWest Press
Kemosa Scholarship for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Mothers Who Write
The Writers’ Guild of Alberta and Nhung Tran-Davies are pleased to announce the winners of the 2nd Annual Kemosa Scholarship for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Mothers Who Write.
First established in 2017 by Dr. Nhung Tran-Davies in partnership with Tlicho Dene author Richard Van Camp, the Kemosa Scholarship offers an opportunity for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Mothers to obtain resources to help them complete the work on their writing – whether that be a novel, a collection of stories, poems, or whatever form their writing might take.
This year, there were many amazing entries for the Kemosa Scholarship, and it was a challenge for the judges to choose the winners from among them. After much thought and careful deliberation, here are this year’s recipients along with some words from jury member Richard Van Camp:
First Place ($3000): Falon Christine
“Incredible. WOW! So riveting. She is free!! This story will help so many
readers. I’m humbled by the strength it took to write and share this.
Second Place ($1500): Amber D. Boyd
“This writer is destined for greatness!”
Third Place ($1000): Shelley Wiart
“Completely compelling. Great poetry and prose. This writer is fearless!”
Honourable Mention ($300): Angela Hall
"Works of devotion and so sensual and loving. This writer is destined for greatness."
Honourable Mention ($300): Kali Stewart
"Bravo! Further proof that writing is soul medicine. A voice to cherish. Bravo!"
We would like to thank Jeananne Kirwin, the Rotary Club of Spruce Grove and Laurel Deedrick-Mayne for their generous support in helping to give voice to Indigenous mothers and for sharing the vision of effecting positive changes through stories.
We would also like to thank Tlicho Dene author Richard Van Camp and Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis, a proud member of the Nipissing First Nation, for being this year’s judges.
Last but not least, we wish to thank everyone who submitted their writing to this year’s Kemosa Scholarship. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words and stories, and we hope that all of you will continue to write and to give voice to the stories and poems that you have to tell.
For more information or media inquiries, please contact us at [email protected].
Meet the Winners!
Falon is a mother of three children, ages 11, 9, and 4, and lives in Redwater, Alberta. Her children inspire her ambition to follow her writerly dreams. Falon loves everything magical, focusing on middle grade, young adult, and adult speculative fiction. She also writes literary short stories and creative nonfiction. Her unpublished young adult novel Shadow of the Moon was a finalist in the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators, and Performers 2017 Writing for Children Competition. Recently, Falon enrolled in the University of Calgary’s online Creative Writing Certificate program. She is honoured to receive the 2nd Annual Kemosa Scholarship.
When not working at her day job, this Métis writer can usually be found tapping the keys of her sticker-covered laptop, crafting her latest bewitching tale. Amber's short stories, Life’s Nectar and Forevermore, can be found in the Amazon number one best-selling anthology, Above and Beneath. Her winning Kemosa scholarship submission, “Howling at the Moon,” has also been published both as stand-alone short story and within the anthology, Undeath by Chocolate. She blames her degree in psychology for her evil, twisted plot lines that torment readers into binge reading her tales long into the wee hours in the morning.
Surviving off coffee and little sleep, Amber lives in Cochrane, Alberta with her husband, two kids, and infamous dust bunny. She claims the more she writes, the less housework gets done, and the bigger the bunny gets. Our best guess is that she and her family are doomed to be taken over by the dust ball—because she isn’t putting the keyboard down anytime soon.
Shelley Wiart is Métis and a member of the North Slave Métis Alliance, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. She is currently enrolled full-time at Athabasca University in her fourth year of a four-year B.A degree – Concentration: Sociology, Minor: Women & Gender Studies. She is the co-founder of an Indigenous focused holistic health program, Women Warriors (www.womenwarriors.club). For the past three years, alongside her co-founder Dr. Sonja Wicklum, MD (Department of Family Medicine, University of Calgary) they have created a free 8 – 12-week program that includes physical fitness classes, nutrition education and a sharing circle aimed at improving Indigenous women’s health outcomes. She is also the proud mother of three girls ages 9, 7, and 6.
Angela Hall, Aski ka na kwa ha mo wa tam (She Who Sings With The Earth) is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta. Angela discovered her gifts of poetry and art later in life. Inspired by the empowerment she experienced through writing & painting, Angela began graduate studies in Art Therapy. Through poetry and art Angela healed many of her childhood wounds of growing up in foster care. Today she is an amazing mother of two teenage boys, a published poet, commissioned artist and certified teacher who specializes in First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education.
K'alii is a Nisga'a organizer, poet and ecology student from the Nass Valley in BC. Her name comes from the Nisga'a phrase k'alii luuyaltkw which means "to return upriver". For K’alii the significance of her name reminds her of the importance of returning to culture. She has come to know culture as a source of healing, strength, and guidance. K’alii’s poetry often turns a critical eye upon the injustices of the world. Her personal motivation for this comes from fighting a custody battle to get her 3-year-old son back. The spirit of hope and determination she has learned from this process are channeled into her poems which she frequently delivers as open calls to action.
We are so grateful to the Sponsors:
Nhung N Tran-Davies
As a Vietnamese immigrant to Canada, I am fascinated by the stories of this land and its people. In 2017, after speaking with renowned author Richard Van Camp and learning more about the struggles of Indigenous women, I was moved to found the Kemosa Scholarship for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Mothers Who Write.
As a writer and mother of three young children, I know how difficult it is to find time to write. Financial constraints can make this time even more difficult. Fortunately, I also work as a physician and therefore, I felt that I, in some way, could help my fellow aspiring writers focus on their creativity, to help give voice to Indigenous mothers who write.
Last year, my initial intention was to award $1000 scholarship to an emerging Indigenous writer, but because of the high calibre of the submissions, I, in the end, awarded scholarship funds to four emerging writers.
1st Prize $1000 – Rhonda Gladue – Edmonton
2nd Prize $500- Catherine Lafferty – Yellowknife
3rd Prize $250 – Brittany Johnson – Beaumont
Honourable Mention – Paige Cardinal – Edmonton
In past years, the WGA has been able to offer various other awards. Here is a list of some of them.
Alberta Screenwriters Initiative
The Alberta Screenwriters Initiative (ABSI) was created in 2007 to facilitate the development of screenwriters in this province. The Initiative recognized the importance of story in the creation of filmed entertainment and the necessity to actively encourage and develop the voices of Alberta writers in film. This annual prize awarded avid Alberta screenwriters a first prize of $1000 and a professional workshop with a carefully matched experienced story editor or screenwriter. The 2nd and 3rd place winners received story notes and $500.00 and $250.00, respectively. The ABSI ran until 2015 and was sponsored by the Alberta Association of Motion Picture and Television Unions (AAMPTU).
Amber Bowerman Memorial Travel Writing Award
The Amber Bowerman Memorial Travel Writing Award ran from 2009 until 2014 in honour of Amber Bowerman, a talented, successful Calgary writer whose life met a tragic end at the age of 30. This award was offered to recognize a writer with an extraordinary story to tell about how their life was changed by what they saw, heard, tasted, smelled, or touched when they travelled outside of Canada or the United States of America. The winning tale inspired others to leave home and see the world, or make armchair travellers feel that they were also there under the same moon as the writer. The Amber Bowerman award was sponsored by Ann Campbell.
Henry Kreisel Award for Best First Book
The Henry Kreisel Award for Best First Book was introduced in 1994 to recognize Alberta authors with outstanding first books. This award ran until 2000 and was sponsored by The NeWest Institute for Western Canadian Studies (1994), Sandpiper Books (1995-6), Greenwoods’ Bookshoppe (1997-9), and Greenwoods’ Bookshoppe/Owl’s Nest Books (2000).
Sharon Drummond Chapbook Prize
About Sharon Drummond: Sharon Drummond lived in Calgary from 1976 until her death in 2005. She was dedicated to the craft of poetry. Her chapbook, Still the Rush, was published in 1999 and nominated for the Milton Acorn People's Poetry Award. Her first full-length book, Into This Room, was published in 2001. Her final book, Where it Began, was published posthumously by Black Moss Press in 2006. Sharon was a skilled writing instructor who taught at the Alexandra Writers' Centre and for the Calgary Board of Education. She was president of the AWCS and served on the executive of the Writers' Guild of Alberta. Sharon is survived by writing friends and colleagues throughout the province, and by her 3 greatest fans -- her daughters. The Sharon Drummond Chapbook Prize ran from 2013-2014.
Youth/Emerging Writing Contest
The Writers’ Guild of Alberta continues to cultivate connections with emerging writers and the youth writing community of our province. In 2017, a generous donation from one of our members has allowed us to award a special one-time prize for a writer between eighteen and thirty years of age. Katie Bickell won the Youth/Emerging Writing Contest for her short story “Angels in the Snow.”
Katie Bickell (katiebickell.com) lives in Sherwood Park with her husband and young daughters. Her work has been published in literary journals throughout North America and Great Britain, and won the 2015 Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Story, the 2014 Alberta Views Fiction Prize, and the 2011 Voices of Motherhood Essay Prize. She is currently completing her first book with the support of an AFA literary grant.
Vanna Tessier and Guy Tessier
Aritha van Herk
WGA Board of Directors