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 pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Alberta Literary Awards and the Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize. We are also thrilled to name the recipient of the 2020 Golden Pen Award for lifetime achievement. This year's award winners were announced in an online video release on June 4th. The video is available to watch on our Facebook page and YouTube channel.
This celebration marks the 38th 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 220 submissions to select winners in the following 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 read, and to advocate for the well-being of writers.
For more information, please contact the Writers’ Guild of Alberta at (780) 422-8174, by email at [email protected], or visit writersguild.ca.
The winners of the 2020 Alberta Literary Awards are:
R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature (Sponsored by the Under the Arch Youth Foundation at The Calgary Foundation)
- Sue Farrell Holler (Grande Prairie) – Cold White Sun, Groundwood Books
Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction
- Richard Van Camp (Edmonton) – Moccasin Square Gardens, Douglas & McIntyre
Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction
- Naomi K. Lewis (Calgary) – Tiny Lights for Travellers, University of Alberta Press
Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama (Sponsored by Alberta Views)
- Tara Beagan (Calgary) – Honour Beat, J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing
Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry (Sponsored by Stephan V. Benediktson)
- Billy-Ray Belcourt (Edmonton) – NDN Coping Mechanisms, House of Anansi
James H. Gray Award for Short Nonfiction
- Paulo da Costa (Calgary) – “Learning To Shave, Learning To Leave,” The Fiddlehead
Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Story (Sponsored by the Alexandra Writers' Centre Society)
- Ali Bryan (Calgary) – "The Big Man in Cargo Shorts," Alberta Views
Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Award (Supported by the Writers’ Guild of Alberta Board of Directors)
- Julie Sedivy (Calgary), “Telescoping”
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 2020 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, Cecelia Frey and Bob Stallworthy.
The 2020 recipient is Vivian Hansen.
Vivian Hansen has published poetry, essays and memoir in Canadian journals and anthologies. She has three poetry books: Leylines of My Flesh (2002), A Bitter Mood of Clouds, and A Tincture of Sunlight (Frontenac 2013 and 2017). Vivian teaches creative writing with Mount Royal University, the University of Calgary, and Alexandra Writers Centre. She has work forthcoming in The New Quarterly and Prairie Journal. Vivian was one of the 2019-20 Writers in Residence with the Canadian Authors Association—Alberta Branch.
Her chapbooks include Never Call It Bird: A Melody of AIDS, and Angel Alley: The Victims of Jack the Ripper. Some of her past publications have included “Bedstemor, Woman of Letters” in Our Grandmothers, Ourselves, and “Flatline Across the Prairie” with Legacy Magazine. Recent nonfiction “Hundedagene and the Foxtail Phenomenon” was published with Guernica Editions in Coming Here, Being Here. A memoir, ‘Telling,” appears in Waiting (University of Alberta Press) Her essay “Where We Surfaced” is in the 2019 Short Éditions with the Calgary Public Library. “Design Charette for Blakiston Park” was published with Loft 112.
In 1988, Vivian co-founded the Calgary Women’s Writing Project, a non-profit society at the University of Calgary that promoted opportunities for women to develop writing and other communications skills. Under her stewardship and over its 14-year run, the Project’s Forum magazine gave women on campus and beyond a place to publish and read work that focused on women’s issues. Last year, a new editorial team revived the magazine and paid tribute to Hansen’s critical role as founding editor.
As a teacher, Vivian has also given her time both within and outside the university. She has taught erotica writing, poetry, and life-writing, for organizations as diverse as the University of Calgary Continuing Education, the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society, the Airdrie Over 50 Club, and the League of Canadian Poets. She has served as a mentor in the WGA’s mentorship program.
Her nomination letters proclaim:
“As a writer Vivian is brave and versatile. Her work is informed by compassion, acute awareness of history, deep understanding of psychological pain, exploration of levels of consciousness, and respect for resilience.”
“We must value people like Vivian, both in our profession and personally. She approaches every adventure with enthusiasm. She gives herself to every project. We all feel better knowing Vivian is involved.”
“Alberta writers owe Vivian Hansen a debt of gratitude for her tireless, steady contribution in building a vibrant and inclusive literary community in our province.”
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 winner for the 2020 City of Edmonton Book Prize is Marina Endicott, The Difference, (Knopf Canada/Penguin Random House)
Born in Golden, BC, Marina Endicott grew up in Nova Scotia and Toronto. Her first book, Open Arms, was short-listed for the Amazon First Novel award. Her second, Good to a Fault, a finalist for the 2008 Giller Prize and a CBC Canada Reads choice, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Best Book, Canada/Caribbean). The Little Shadows, shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award, and longlisted for the 2011 Giller Prize, as was Close to Hugh, one of CBC’s Best Books of 2015.
In the words of this year’s jury, “In The Difference, Marina Endicott brings readers on a sweeping voyage aboard sailing and steamer ships in 1912 and 1922. With lush language, vivid imagery, and deliberate pacing, the reader is deeply immersed with the sounds, sights and smells of a lost time. In this world of fast news, fast reads, fast travel, fast everything, here we are required to slow our breath to be in rhythm with the slap-slap of the waves and the emptiness and bounty of the ocean. This is a beautiful, wondrous book that feels like it was written in a long-ago era yet is entirely new and fresh. It examines questions about forgiveness and atonement that resonate deeply today.”
Also on the shortlist were Audrey J. Whitson for The Death of Annie the Water Witcher by Lightening, (NeWest Press), and Billy-Ray Belcourt for NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes From the Field, (House of Anansi Press).
The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize
The winner of The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize will be revealed at Council Meeting on Wednesday, June 15 at 9:30 a.m. alongside the full list of Calgary Awards recipients. These announcements will be livestreamed from Calgary.ca/calgaryawards.
W.O. Mitchell award finalists include:
- Sharon Butala for her story collection, Season of Fury and Wonder, published by Coteau Books (2019) + Freehand Books (2020 edition)
- Naomi K. Lewis for her memoir, Tiny Lights for Travellers,published by the University of Alberta Press; and
- Teresa Wong for her graphic memoir Dear Scarlet: The Story of my Postpartum Depression,published by Arsenal Pulp Press
For more information including finalist bios, excerpts from works and jury comments, please visit writersguild.ca/finalists-for-the-city-of-calgary-w-o-mitchell-book-prize-announced/.
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.
The Writers’ Guild of Alberta and Nhung Tran-Davies are pleased to announce the winners of the 3rd Annual Kemosa Scholarship for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Mothers Who Write.:
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:
- First Place ($3000): Shelley Willier
- Second Place ($2000): Trish Noelle McOrmond
- Third Place ($1000): Teresa Callihoo
- Felice Gladue
- Katie-Jo Rabbit
- Alycia Two Bears
- Amber Weasel Head
For more information or media inquiries, please contact us at [email protected].
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.
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.
Sponsors & Donors:
Aritha van Herk
WGA Board of Directors