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 and Vivian Hansen.
This year’s recipient is Chris Wiseman.
Dr. Chris Wiseman came to Alberta and Canada in 1969 to teach English at the University of Calgary. Early in his career at the university, he established the Creative Writing section of the English department. He went on to teach Creative Writing at all levels from first year to graduate until his retirement.
A writer/poet himself, Chris came to the University of Calgary with a PhD from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland and with three years under his belt from the Iowa writers workshop. Soon after arriving in Calgary he realized that the writing community was very small and had little prominence in community life. Among the things he did to increase the profile of writers in the community was to advocate for writers with government agencies, including sitting on literary juries for the Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Literary Arts and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and promote the creation of public poetry readings within the Calgary community. In 1980, he became the founding Vice President of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta. Three years later, he took on the role of President of the Guild.
He has published 11 books of poetry, written numerous academic articles and papers, and supervised many graduate students and their work. The result is well over 100 books being produced by both graduate and undergraduate students over the years. Amongst those students, three of them went on to receive Governor General Awards and three more have been shortlisted for the same award.
Chris has received numerous awards for his work, as well. He received a Teaching Excellence Award from the Student Union at the University of Calgary. He has also received the Alberta Culture’s Best Book Award twice; a Hawthorn Fellowship; won the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry once and was shortlisted once; received an Alberta Achievement Award; won The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize; been presented with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and was also presented with the Order of Canada.
The 2022 Golden Pen Award will be presented to Chris at an in-person event in Calgary later in the year.
(Bio by Bob Stallworthy)
The Golden Pen Award is supported by Aritha van Herk