Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers

Winner of the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers Announced

A literary award with a track-record for identifying some of this country’s finest developing writers was presented last night to Marjorie Celona, a twenty-seven year old from Victoria.

The RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers is given to a Canadian author or landed immigrant under the age of thirty-five, not yet published in book form, for a sample of short fiction. New prize supporter RBC Foundation raised the prize’s cash value to $5,000 (from $1,000).

Celona has a degree in creative writing from the University of Victoria and is currently completing an MFA at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her writing has appeared in THIS magazine, The Indiana Review, and Best Canadian Stories '07.

Finalists were selected by a jury comprised of Michelle Berry, Natalee Caple, and Andrew Pyper. Of Celona’s short story, “Othello,” they wrote:

“Othello” has the mark of a mature and experienced writer. A teenage boy learns about loneliness and life’s misperceptions during a summer road trip stop at a convenience store in the town of Othello. An autistic boy and his depressed father create a powerful frame around this coming of age story, teaching us that suddenly, out of nowhere, perceptions can shift a little and in an instant the future is clear. The non-linear writing is bare and raw – an entire life summed up in so few pages. This story is a gift, a world created and presented perfectly.

Two finalists each received cash prizes of $1,000: Ben Lof for “When in the Field with Her at His Back” and Grace O'Connell for “The Bottlenecks.”

Bronwen Wallace was a mentor for many young writers as well as a creative writing teacher at St. Lawrence College and Queen’s University in Kingston. She was also the editor of Quarry Magazine, and during her editorship the magazine gave many writers their first publication. Wallace wrote four books of poetry and a collection of short stories before her death at age forty-four.

Bronwen Wallace felt strongly that unpublished writers should receive recognition at an earlier age. As a result, her close friend Carolyn Smart founded the award as a tribute to Wallace and younger writers. The award, presented for the first time in 1994, alternates each year between poetry and short fiction. Past winners include Michael Crummey, Alissa York and, most recently, Jeramy Dodds.

To celebrate the three finalists, the Writers' Trust has produced a book featuring all three stories. To receive a free, electronic version in PDF format, please send us an email with "Bronwen Wallace Book Request" in the subject heading.

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