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6 emerging Canadian writers finalists for $10K RBC Bronwen Wallace Award

In 2020, the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for emerging writers will give two $10,000 prizes, for short fiction and poetry.
Clockwise from top left: Jamaluddin Aram, Omer Friedlander, Leah Mol, Alexa Winik, Zoe Imani Sharpe and nina jane drystek are the finalists for the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award. (Submitted by RBC Bronwen Wallace Award/Writers' Trust of Canada)

Six emerging writers have been selected as finalists for the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award. The $10,000 prize, which recognizes writers under 35 years of age who have yet to publish a book, previously alternated between poetry and short story each year. 

The annual prize was established by the Writers' Trust of Canada to help up-and-coming writers make the leap from emerging to established. 

In 2020, two prizes will be awarded: one for poetry and one for short fiction. The two 2020 prizes have independent juries.

The three short story finalists are: 

  • This Hard Easy Life by Jamaluddin Aram
  • Palestinian Still Life by Omer Friedlander
  • Six Things My Father Taught Me About Bears by Leah Mol

Aram is a Toronto-based documentary filmmaker, producer and short story writer originally from Kabul, Afghanistan.

Friedlander is an Israeli-Canadian writer whose work has appeared in The Common, The Ilanot Review and The Mays Anthology. He is based in Brooklyn, New York. 

Mol is a writer, proofreader and editor based in Ontario. She won the 2018 CBC Short Story Prize for Lipstick Day, a story about teens' sexual behaviour and peer pressure.

The short fiction jury was comprised of writers Kris Bertin, Djamila Ibrahim and Carrianne Leung. They compiled the shortlist from 148 works of short fiction.

The three poetry finalists are: 

  • c:ode by nina jane drystek
  • Selection from [CA$H4GOLD] by Zoe Imani Sharpe
  • Selections from Winter Stars Visible in December by Alexa Winik

nina jane drystek is a poet, performer and arts coordinator whose work has appeared in Bywords, in/words, Ottawater and Window Cat Press. She is based in Ottawa.

Zoe Imani Sharpe is an Ontario poet and teacher. Her work has been featured in The Puritan, Lemon Hound, Room and The Unpublished City anthology series.

Alexa Winik is an Ontario poet, writer and editor. Based in Edinburgh, she holds a creative writing MFA from the University of St Andrews and serves as a poetry reader for Tinderbox Poetry Journal.

A jury composed of poets Klara du Plessis, Benjamin Hertwig and Canisia Lubrin read 166 submissions to select the finalists in the poetry category.

The respective winners from the short fiction and poetry category will each receive $10,000. The remaining finalists will each receive $2,500.

The winners will be announced virtually on Oct. 21, 2020.

All six emerging writers will receive the opportunity to be mentored by an established editor, including feedback on their writing and guidance on their career development. 

The prize was established in 1994 in memory of Bronwen Wallace.

Wallace was a poet and short story writer. Over the course of her career, she wrote five poetry collections, two short story collections and one essay collection. In 1984, she won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award for her poetry collection Signs of the Former Tenant.

She died of cancer in 1989.

Last year's winner was John Elizabeth Stintzi for their work Selections From Junebat.

Michael Crummey was the first writer to receive the prize. Other past winners include Maria Reva, Jeramy Dodds, Alison Pick and Alissa York.

The Writers' Trust of Canada is an organization that supports Canadian writers through literary awards, fellowships, financial grants, mentorships and more.

It also gives out seven prizes in recognition of the year's best in fiction, nonfiction and short story, as well as mid-career and lifetime achievement awards.

The organization was founded in 1976 by Margaret Atwood, Pierre Berton, Graeme Gibson, Margaret Laurence and David Young

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