Books

Patrick James Errington and Teya Hollier win $10K RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for emerging writers

The prize recognizes promising unpublished writers in short fiction and poetry.

The prize recognizes promising unpublished writers in short fiction and poetry

Patrick James Errington, left, and Teya Hollier are finalists of the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for emerging writers in 2022. (Writers' Trust of Canada)

Alberta's Patrick James Errington and Ontario's Teya Hollier are the winners of the 2022 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers.

They will each receive a $10,000 prize.

The announcement was made at an in-person event in Toronto. It was hosted by past award finalist and juror Irfan Ali. 

The award was established in 1994 in memory of poet and short story writer Bronwen Wallace. It is currently sponsored by the RBC Emerging Artists initiative.

Errington won for his poetry collection, If Fire, Then Bird. Errington is an Alberta poet, translator, literary critic and academic based in Edinburgh. He is the author of two chapbooks, Glean and Field Studies and his work has appeared in The Poetry Review, Best New Poets and The Fiddlehead.

"Patrick James Errington's If Fire, Then Bird confronts embered landscapes of memory and loss in sonorous, sensory-rich language. These poems move with undeniable grace and attention, subtly adopting and subverting lyrical and pastoral tropes to pose tough questions about the fragile boundaries between health and illness, presence and absence, place and displacement," the jury said in a statement.

The other finalists for the poetry prize were Eimear Laffan for My Life, Delimited and Christine Wu for selections from Familial Hungers.

The poetry category was judged by Tenille K. Campbell, Michael Prior and Suzannah Showler. They read 183 anonymous submissions to select the finalists in the poetry category.

The short fiction award went to Hollier for Watching, Waiting. 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 a graduate of York University's Creative Writing program, where she won the Judith Eve Gewurtz Memorial Poetry Award and the Babs Burggraf Award for Creative Writing.

"A tender, skillful and moving storytelling achievement, Watching, Waiting perfectly captures a child's voice and understanding of the adult world," the jury said.

"The bonds in a delayed father-daughter relationship are so delicately explored that readers are given pause at every cautious movement and each unspoken word. Deftly navigating familial and spatial geographies of shame, solidarity, and race, Teya Hollier moves effortlessly from comparing parents' skin colour, to secret candy, to the contrasting experiences of zombie and princess trick-or-treaters in a fine form of the unexpected."

The other finalists for the short fiction prize were Jen Batler for Ectopia Cordis and Emily Paskevics for Wild Girls.

The short fiction category was judged by Erin Frances Fisher, Angélique Lalonde and Derek Mascarenhas. They read 189 anonymous submissions to select the finalists in the fiction category.

All finalists receive $2,500 and the opportunity to be mentored by an established editor who will provide manuscript feedback and career development guidance.

Bronwen Wallace was a Canadian poet, short story writer and mentor to many aspiring authors as a creative writing instructor at Queen's University and St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ont. This prize was established in her honour in 1994 by a group of friends and colleagues.

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 Bronwen Wallace Award is administered by the Writers' Trust of Canada.

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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