The Writers' Trust administers some of the biggest awards in the literary landscape, from the Hilary Weston Prize for Nonfiction to the Journey Prize to the newly minted Atwood-Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.
One of the prizes that mostly consistently generates industry buzz, however, is the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. Having spotted many up and comers in their early years who went on to become well-loved CanLit mainstays (like Michael Crummey, Irfan Ali, and Sonnet L’Abbé), it's an award that anyone interested in finding new talent pays keen attention to.
And the Writers' Trust recently announced a well-received change to the prize's eligibility guidelines: up until recently, writers submitting to the award had to be under the age of 35. But since many writers "emerge" much later than that, for a myriad of reasons, the Trust listened to community feedback and did away with the age restrictions altogether.
The prize has also continued with the recently-instituted tradition of giving out one award in the poetry category and one in the fiction category each year. Previously, the prize alternated between the two genres.
2021 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers nominees, Fiction:
- Carolyn Chung for “Bright Fish, Dead Bird”
- Anna Ling Kaye for “East City”
- Joshua Wales for “Mass Effect”
2021 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers nominees, Poetry:
- Jessica Bebenek for “Selections from No One Knows Us There”
- Hannah Green for “XANAX COWBOY”
- Zehra Naqvi for "The Knot of My Tongue”
The prize was established in 1994 by poet and writing teacher Carolyn Smart, in honour of her late friend Bronwen Wallace, who passed away at age 44. Wallace published several award-winning collections of poetry during her life and wrote one posthumously published, highly regarded collection of short fiction.
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The 2021 winners will be announced on June 16 and will each receive $10,000. The remaining nominees will receive $2,500.