6 emerging writers shortlisted for $10K RBC Bronwen Wallace Awards

In 2022, the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for emerging Canadian writers will give two $10,000 prizes for short fiction and poetry.
Clockwise from top left: Patrick James Errington, Eimear Laffan, Christine Wu, Jen Batler, Teya Hollier and Emily Paskevics are the finalists for the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award. (Submitted by the Writers' Trust of Canada)

The Writers' Trust of Canada has announced the finalists for the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award. The prize recognizes emerging Canadian writers in both poetry and short fiction.

The winner of each prize will receive $10,000. 

This prize was established in 1994 to honour the life and career of Bronwen Wallace, a poet and short story writer who felt that writers should have more opportunities for recognition early in their careers. 

The annual award is sponsored by RBC Emerging Artists, an initiative that recognizes writers who have been published but who have not yet been published in book form. 

The finalists for the poetry prize are Patrick James Errington, Eimear Laffan and Christine Wu.

Errington is a poet, translator, literary critic and academic. He is nominated for If Fire, Then Bird.

"These poems move with undeniable grace and attention," said the jury. "Errington's poems emerge with remarkable definition, clarity and surprise."

Laffan is an Irish-born poet based in Nelson, B.C. She is nominated for her work, My Life, Delimited. 

"Quick-witted and attentive, deconstructive and delightful," said the jury. "This is a body of work full of surprising turns."

Wu is a Chinese-Canadian poet who is a graduate student at the University of New Brunswick where she serves as co-managing editor of Qwerty. She is nominated for selections from Familial Hungers. 

"Wu brings us into moments that evoke nostalgia and a gentle hunger," said the jury. "Guided by strong form and language we are invited to sit and feast together."

The poetry category was judged by Tenille K. Campbell, Michael Prior, and Suzannah Showler.

The finalists for the short fiction prize are Jen Batler, Teya Hollier and Emily Paskevics.

Batler is a writer and editor based on the traditional and treaty territory of the Michi Saagiig and Chippewa Nations where she is currently writing a memoir. She is nominated for Ectopia Cordis.

"A touching and candid story comfortable in its arena," said the jury. "Batler writes with exhausted restraint and an understanding of escape and addiction."

Hollier is a Black woman of diverse heritage based in Toronto who explores racial oppression, mental illness and generational trauma through her writing. She is nominated for Watching, Waiting

"A tender, skillful and moving storytelling achievement," said the jury. "Teya Hollier moves effortlessly in a fine form of the unexpected."

Paskevics is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story, "Little Wild Creatures," was longlisted for the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize. She is nominated for Wild Girls. 

"A raw experience of childhood imagination, fear, beauty, magic and grief," said the jury. "This story is alive with vividly descriptive prose."

The short fiction category was judged by Erin Frances Fisher, Angélique Lalonde and Derek Mascarenhas.

Each finalist will receive $2,500 and a mentorship opportunity with an established editor who provides feedback on their work and guidance on career development.

The 2022 winners will be announced on June 2. Finalists from the 2020 and 2021 awards will also be in attendance to celebrate their achievements. 

Last year's winners were Zehra Naqvi and Anna Ling Kaye for the poetry collection The Knot of My Tongue and the short story East City, respectively.

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 a charitable organization that seeks to advance, nurture and celebrate Canadian writers and writing. Its programming includes 11 national literary awards, financial grants, career development initiatives for emerging writers and a writers' retreat. 

The organization was founded in 1976 by Margaret Atwood, Pierre Berton, Graeme Gibson, Margaret Laurence and David Young. It gave out more than $970,000 to support Canadian writers in 2020.

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