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
Submissions for the 2020 Awards are now closed.
Submissions are evaluated on originality, creativity, and quality of writing, as well as appropriate fit within a category. The winners will be announced next May. The awards presentation will take place in conjunction with the 2020 Writers’ Guild of Alberta Conference.
The Alberta Literary Awards were created by the Writers’ Guild of Alberta in 1982 to recognize excellence in writing by Alberta authors.
The Writers’ Guild of Alberta is the largest provincial writers’ organization in Canada, and was formed in 1980 to provide a meeting ground and collective voice for the writers of the province. Our mission is to support and advocate for all writers and provide opportunities to grow and connect while enriching Alberta's culture and economy.
For more information, please contact the Writers’ Guild of Alberta at (780) 422-8174, by email at [email protected].
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 2019 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.
The 2019 recipient was 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, the Edmonton Arts Council and the City of Edmonton. The winner will be announced and the prize awarded in the spring of 2020.
The 2019 Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize Winner
- 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 (WINNER)
The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize
2018 City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize Winner:
Pay No Heed to the Rockets, Marcello Di Cintio, Goose Lane Editions (WINNER)
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 3rd Annual Kemosa Scholarship is now closed to submissions.
This year, author Jeananne Kirwin has enthusiastically joined in the effort to help give voice to Indigenous mothers. Together, we share the vision of effecting positive changes in our community through stories.
Because of the generosity of our sponsors, we will award three scholarships this year: 1st place $3000, 2nd place $2000, 3rd place $1000.
We are so happy to welcome back Tlicho Dene author Richard Van Camp and Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis, a proud member of the Nipissing First Nation, as our judges.
If you are an emerging First Nations, Metis 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 was December 20, 2019. Winners will be announced in mid-January.
Winners for the last year's Kemosa Scholarship included:
- First Place ($3000): Falon Christine
- Second Place ($1500): Amber D. Boyd
- Third Place ($1000): Shelley Wiart
- Honourable Mention ($300): Angela Hall
- Honourable Mention ($300): Kali Stewart
For more information or media inquiries, please contact us at [email protected].
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.
Aritha van Herk
WGA Board of Directors