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 (WGA) is preparing to celebrate another successful year with the 2019 Alberta Literary Awards.
The deadline for submissions to the Alberta Literary Awards was December 31, 2018.
Submissions will be evaluated on originality, creativity, and quality of writing, as well as appropriate fit within a category. The winners will be announced next June. The awards presentation will take place in conjunction with the 2019 Writers’ Guild of Alberta Conference.
The Alberta Literary Awards
Deadline: The awards are now closed to submissions
The 2019 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 (picture books)
- Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction
- Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction
- Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry
- Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama (published or produced)
Prizes of $700 will be awarded to unpublished and published entries in the following categories:
- James H. Gray Award for Short Nonfiction (published)
- Howard O'Hagan Award for Short Story (published)
- Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Award (unpublished)
Awards will also be given out for the following city book prizes in the spring of 2019:
- The Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize ($10,000 prize)
- The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize ($5,000 prize)
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 2018 recipient was 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.”
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
2018 Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize Finalists:
- Billy-Ray Belcourt, This Wound is a World (Frontenac House) (WINNER)
- 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 City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize
Deadline: Submissions are now closed
2017 City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize Finalists:
- Taylor Lambert, Darwin’s Moving, (NeWest Press) (WINNER)
- Clem & Olivier Martini, The Unravelling, (Freehand Books)
- Deborah Willis, The Dark and Other Love Stories, (Hamish Hamilton)
Kemosa Scholarship for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Mothers Who Write
The Writers’ Guild of Alberta is happy to announce the launch of the 2nd Annual Kemosa Scholarship for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Mothers Who Write!
This year, Author Jeananne Kirwin and the Rotary Club of Spruce Grove have 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 $1000, 3rd place $500.
We are so happy to have Tlicho Dene author Richard Van Camp and Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis, a proud member of the Nipissing First Nation be our judges.
Deadline: Submissions are now closed
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. Winners will be announced by mid-January.
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.