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.
2024 Alberta Literary Awards Now Open for Submissions!
The Writers’ Guild of Alberta (WGA) is preparing to celebrate another successful year with the 2024 Alberta Literary Awards. Writers from across Alberta and their publishers are invited to check out and submit to this year’s award categories.
The deadline for submissions to the Alberta Literary Awards is December 1, 2023.
Submissions are evaluated on originality, creativity, and quality of writing, as well as appropriate fit within a category. The winners will be announced next spring.
The Alberta Literary Awards were created by the Writers’ Guild of Alberta in 1982 to recognize excellence in writing by Alberta authors.
Deadline: December 1, 2023
The 2024 Alberta Literary Awards Categories
Prizes of $1500 will be awarded to published entries in the following categories:
- R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature (chapter books published in 2022 or 2023)
- Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction
- Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction
- Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry
- Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama
- Memoir Award (nonfiction)
- Short Story Collection Award (published in 2022 or 2023)
Prizes of $700 will be awarded to unpublished and published entries in the following categories:
- James H. Gray Award for Short Nonfiction
- Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Story
- Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Award (unpublished)
Award submissions can also be entered to qualify for the following city book prize:
- The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize ($5,000 prize)
- The Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize (The primary prize recipient will be awarded $15,000, and two secondary prizes of $5,000 will be awarded to the runners up.) The Edmonton Book Prize is now part of the Edmonton Arts Prizes.
Golden Pen Award
The WGA will also be accepting nominations for the Golden Pen Award. Golden Pen nominations can be submitted online at: writersguild.ca/golden-pen-nomination-form.
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 2023 Alberta Literary Awards (listed below).
If you are interested in becoming an award sponsor, gala sponsor, or donor, please contact Giorgia Severini.
Golden Pen Award
The WGA is accepting nominations for the Golden Pen Award until December 1, 2023. Golden Pen nominations can be submitted online at: writersguild.ca/golden-pen-nomination-form.
View the full awards guidelines HERE.
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, Candas Jane Dorsey, Cecelia Frey, Bob Stallworthy, Vivian Hansen and Chris Wiseman.
Joan Crate was born in the NorthWest Territories and, after finding homes in various towns and cities in B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan, she has lived in Calgary for a total of 20 years, bookending the 15 years she lived in Red Deer. She writes poetry and fiction and has dabbled in academic essays and creative nonfiction. The band U2, of whom she’s a big fan, featured her poem “I am a Prophet” on screen in their last Canadian tour. Over the years, she’s won several writing awards, most recently:
- Winner of the Princemere Poetry Contest, 2020
- Winner of the W.O. Mitchell City of Calgary Book Award, 2016
- Short listed for the Frank Heygi Award, 2016
- CBC’s Ten Books you must read list, 2016
- Short listed for Aesthetica Award, 2019 and 2015, Vallum 2016, the New Guard 2019
- Short-listed for the WGA Poetry Award, 2010
She lost her partner of 38 years at the beginning of the pandemic and since then, he seems to have taken over her poetry. She had work appear in five anthologies and on CBC radio during the pandemic. Currently she’s working with Many Mothers Scriptwriting collective.
Joan has published 5 books:
- Black Apple (novel) Simon and Schuster, 2016
- SubUrban Legends (poetry) Freehand Press, 2009
- Foreign Homes (poetry) Brick Books, Dec. 2000. Second printing 2003
- Breathing Water (novel) published by NeWest Press, October 1989
- Pale As Real Ladies (poetry) published by Brick Books, August 1989. Second printing 1991. Third printing 1994. Fourth printing 2004, Fifth printing, 2006, Sixth printing 2010, Seventh printing, 2023
INTERVIEWED BY: (partial list)
- University of British Columbia, Okanagan, Oct. 2020 (online)
- Saskatoon Public Library, Sept. 2020 (online)
- WGA magazine with J.Jill Robinson, 2017
- Global TV, Toronto, June 2016
- Calgary Herald, April 2016
- CBC Radio, Calgary, April 2016
- Canadian Living, March 2016
- National Post, March 2016
- CBC Radio National March 2016
Joan was involved in organizing and participating in a writing and editing group while a student at University of Calgary. She also served as Vice-President, President and Past-President with Nancy Holmes for the Calgary Reading Series in the 90’s, chopping vegetables and buying wine for the receptions as well as booking readers, applying for grants and taking care of arrangements. She served as co-editor of poetry for the now defunct Dandelion magazine.
While employed (for 15 years) at Red Deer College, now Red Deer Polytechnic, she ran a reading series that featured writers from all over Canada, as well as local writers and started student-centred readings for her Creative Writing students.
She has served two terms at different times as Member at Large for the Writers’ Guild of Alberta and presently is involved in peer reading and editing.
The Golden Pen Award is supported by Aritha van Herk.
The Edmonton Arts Prizes – Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize
On May 3, 2023, the primary winners of the Edmonton Arts Prizes were announced and honoured for their excellence in music, visual art, film and literature at the awards presentation at Westbury Theatre. For the first time ever, the four separately formed arts prizes were jointly celebrated as in a presentation that included Councillor Ashley Salvador, Métis Ward, Debbie Houle, Vice-Chair of the Edmonton Arts Council and Tina Thomas, CEO of the Edmonton Community Foundation.
Each of the twelve nominated artists received a prize, with $15,000 going to the primary prize recipient in each category, and two secondary prizes of $5,000 awarded to the runners up. In total, $100,000 was awarded to the artists.
The prize program is coordinated by the Edmonton Arts Council, in partnership with the City of Edmonton, Alberta Media Production Industries Association, Alberta Music, Audreys Books, CARFAC Alberta, Edmonton Community Foundation and Writers’ Guild of Alberta.
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 (WGA). 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 WGA. The winning author will receive a cash prize (prize amounts for the Edmonton Arts Prizes are currently under review, but will be at least equal to last year.). The award is sponsored by Audreys Books, the Edmonton Arts Council and the City of Edmonton.
The Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prizerecognizes Edmonton authors of books published in English or French (language limitations will be reviewed for 2023/2024) and released in the 12 months (calendar year) prior to the deadline. In this context, a book is a published work of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or drama, written for adults or children.
The prize recognizes artists that regularly reside in Edmonton and its immediate surrounding counties and Indigenous communities, commonly called the “Greater Edmonton Region.”
Recipients of the Robert Kroetsch – City of Edmonton Book Prize
(in partnership with Audreys Books & The Edmonton Arts Council)
Primary winner: Matthew James Weigel for Whitemud Walking
Matthew James Weigel is a Dene and Métis poet and artist born and raised in Edmonton. Whitemud Walking is his debut full-length genre-bending poetry collection about the land Weigel was born on and the institutions that occupy that land. It’s a genre-bending work of visual and lyric poetry, non-fiction prose, photography, and digital art and design. Currently pursuing a PhD in English at the University of Alberta, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences. He is the designer for Moon Jelly House press and his words and art have been published by Arc Poetry Magazine, Book*Hug, The Polyglot, and The Mamawi Project. Matthew is a Writers’ Trust Dayne Ogilvie Prize finalist, National Magazine Award finalist, Nelson Ball Prize finalist, Cécile E. Mactaggart award winner, and winner of both the 2020 Vallum Chapbook Award and 2021 bpNichol Chapbook Award for his chapbook It Was Treaty / It Was Me. His debut full-length collection Whitemud Walking received the Alcuin Society Award for book design and is available now from Coach House Books.
- Norma Dunning for Kinauvit? What’s Your Name?
- Michael Hingston for Try Not to Be Strange: The Curious History of the Kingdom of Redonda
The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize
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 6th 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 comments from this year’s jury:
- First Place ($3000): Falon Fayant – Shadow of the Moon
“Epic storytelling! The writing is riveting. I love it. More! More!”
- Second Place ($2000): Josephine Small – Eagles Songs R Me
“I feel we are witnessing a visionary finding their voice.”
- Third Place ($1000): Brittney Whitford –A Day at A Time
“This writing is soaked in pain. Thank goodness writing is sometimes the best therapy
Deadline: This prize is now closed to submissions
If you are an emerging First Nations, Métis or Inuit writer and mother living in Alberta and are interested in applying for the Kemosa Scholarship, please send the following to [email protected]
1. A sample of your writing (no more than 15 pages) — either prose, poetry, nonfiction, fiction and/or illustrated literature, e.g. graphic novel, comic, etc.
2. A cover letter describing why the scholarship is important for you.
3. Previous entrants may resubmit, as long as you have not won a scholarship within 24 months.
4. The deadline for scholarship submission is in mid-December
The Writers’ Guild of Alberta and Nhung Tran-Davies announced the winners of the 5th Annual Kemosa Scholarship for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Mothers Who Write:
Winners for the 5th Annual Kemosa Scholarship included:
- First Place ($3000): Lareina Abbott – Pchit – Little One
- Second Place ($2000): Amber Boyd – Spirit Bead
- Third Place($1000): Apryl Gladue –the assertion of truth in our bones (and other poems)
- Honourable Mention ($500): Sandra Lamouche – ᐊᐸᑯᓯᐢ Apakosis
- Honourable Mention ($500): Shirley Cire – Sleigh Ride (and other poems)
For more information or media inquiries, please contact us at [email protected].
Sponsors & Donors
We are so grateful to the Co-Sponsors:
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.
Jeananne Kathol Kirwin lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband and four children. Although she is a practicing lawyer and erstwhile sailor, her childhood dream to become a writer was rekindled during the sailing sabbatical that is the subject of her book Greetings from Cool Breezes/A Family’s Year Aboard (Borealis Press, 2005). That book won the Canadian Authors Association – Alberta Branch Exporting Alberta Award in 2006.
- Pandemic School of Writing Inc.
- Pam Clark
- Jacqueline Guest
- Carol Holmes
- Brent McConnell
- Elaine Morin
- Deborah Sword
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 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.
Supported by Nicole Duley (Liesner)