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.
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 Candas Jane Dorsey.
The 2018 recipient is Cecelia Frey.
Cecelia Frey is the author of seven novels, three collections of short stories, and six volumes of poetry. Her latest books are a novel, Lovers Fall Back to Earth (2018), and a collection of poems, North (2018). For many years, she instructed in writing workshops and classes, worked at editing and freelance writing and was active in the Calgary writing community where she lives with her family.
Born in northern Alberta, Cecelia grew up in Edmonton and was educated at the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. Her novel A Raw Mix of Carelessnessand Longing was shortlisted for the WGA George Bugnet Fiction Award and she is a three-time recipient of the WGA Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Fiction. She has also won awards for playwriting. Her work has appeared in such publications as the Globe and Mail, Westworld and Canadian Literature, numerous literary journals and anthologies, and has been broadcast on CBC Radio and the Women’s Television Network. In 2016 she began a blog, The Writing Life.
A prolific and expansively creative writer who has produced work in multiple genres, Cecelia has also long been a teacher, mentor, friend and example to many writers. “Get out into the literary community, make friends with other writers; you need each other’s support,” Frey said in a 2016 WestWordmagazine profile. One of her nominators for the Golden Pen Award put it this way: “As an aspiring writer in 1970s Calgary, she found literary community and made friends with her fellow writers. In 2017, she continues to do so. Alberta’s literary culture is the stronger for it.”
The 2018 Golden Pen Award was presented at the Alberta Literary Awards Gala during our annual WGA Conference along with the rest of the Alberta Literary Awards on Saturday, June 2 in the Imperial Ballroom, Hyatt Regency Hotel in Calgary.
Supported by Aritha van Herk.
Deadline: Nominations are now closed
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. Entries must deal with some aspect of the city of Edmonton : history, geography, current affairs, its arts or its people or be written by an Edmonton author. Entries may be fiction, non-fiction, poetry or drama written for adults or children, published in the preceding year. The winning author will receive a prize of $10,000. The prize is sponsored by Audreys Books and the Edmonton Arts Council.
2018 Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize Shortlist:
- Billy-Ray Belcourt, This Wound is a World (Frontenac House)
- Norma Dunning, Annie Muktuk and other stories (University of Alberta Press)
- Lisa Martin, Believing is not the same as Being Saved (University of Alberta Press)
The winner of the 2018 Robert Kroetsch City of Book Prize will be recognized at an awards presentation in June of this year.
Please join us on Sunday, May 6th, 2 pm at Audreys Books for readings by this year’s shortlisted authors!
Deadline: Now closed for submissions
The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize
The prize is administered through a partnership between The City of Calgary and the Writers' Guild of Alberta. A three-person jury from the Canadian literary community judges all entries and selects the winner for confirmation by The Calgary Awards Committee. The jury is made up of a Calgarian, an Albertan from outside Calgary, and a Canadian from outside Alberta. This year's three finalists are:
- Taylor Lambert, Darwin’s Moving, (NeWest Press)
- Clem & Olivier Martini, The Unravelling, (Freehand Books)
- Deborah Willis, The Dark and Other Love Stories, (Hamish Hamilton)
The recipient of The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize will be recognized at the Calgary Awards presentation on June 13, 2018. The Calgary Awards will be live streamed on Calgary.ca.
The winner of the 2016 City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize was: Joan Crate, Black Apple (Simon & Schuster).
Deadline: Now closed for submissions
Alberta Screenwriters Initiative
The Alberta Screenwriters Initiative (ABSI) was created in 2007 to facilitate the development of screenwriters in this province. The Initiative recognizes 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 awards 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 receives story notes and $500.00 and $250.00, respectively.
Due to a shortage in funding, the ABSI will not be offered in 2018.
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.
How to enter: Submissions are now closed
Alberta Literary Awards
The Writers’ Guild of Alberta is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Alberta Literary Awards. More than 120 guests attended the 2018 Alberta Literary Awards Gala on June 2, part of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta’s 2018 provincial conference, Refining Our Narratives, held in Calgary.
This celebration marked the 36th anniversary of the Alberta Literary Awards and brought together writers from across Alberta.
The Alberta Literary Awards were created by the Writers’ Guild of Alberta in 1982 to recognize excellence in writing by Alberta authors. This year, jurors deliberated over 260 submissions to select 24 finalists in eight categories.
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 inspire, connect, support, encourage, and promote writers and writing, to safeguard the freedom to write and to read, and to advocate for the well-being of writers.
Deadline: Now closed for submissions
2018 Alberta Literary Award WinnersR. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature (Sponsored by the Under the Arch Youth Foundation at The Calgary Foundation)
- Sarah Everett (Edmonton) – Everyone We’ve Been, Knopf / Penguin Random House
Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction (Sponsored by the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity)
- Deborah Willis (Calgary) – The Dark and Other Love Stories, Hamish Hamilton Canada / Penguin Random House Canada
Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction
- Stephen Bown (Canmore) – Island of the Blue Foxes: Disaster and Triumph on Bering’s Great Voyage to Alaska, Douglas & McIntyre
Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama (Sponsored by Alberta Views)
- Karen Hines (Calgary) – Crawlspace, Coach House Books
Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry (Sponsored by Stephan V. Benediktson)
- Benjamin Hertwig (Edmonton) – Slow War, McGill-Queen’s University Press
James H. Gray Award for Short Nonfiction
- Sadia Masud (Edmonton) – “Taken Over By the West,” Glass Buffalo
Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Story (Supported by Vanna Tessier and Guy Tessier)
- Norma Dunning (Edmonton) – “Elipsee,” University of Alberta Press
Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Award (Supported by the Writers’ Guild of Alberta Board of Directors)
- Cynthia Scott Wandler (Morinville) – “Things You Can’t Do With A Broken Left Arm”
WGA Golden Pen Award for Lifetime Achievement (Supported by Aritha van Herk)
- Cecelia Frey
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 Natalie Cook.
Youth/Emerging Writing Contest
As well, The Writers’ Guild of Alberta continues to cultivate connections with emerging writers and the youth writing community of our province. This year, 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. We are pleased to announce that Katie Bickell has 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.