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James H. Gray Award for Short Nonfiction


Winners of the 2020 Alberta Literary Awards

The Writers’ Guild of Alberta is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Alberta Literary Awards. This year’s award winners were announced in an online video release on June 4th. The video is available to watch on our Facebook page and YouTube channel. This celebration marks the 38th anniversary of the Alberta Literary Awards and brought together writers from across Alberta.The Alberta Literary Awards were created by the Writers’ Guild of Alberta in 1982 to recognize excellence in writing by Alberta authors. This year, jurors deliberated over 220 submissions to select winners in the following eight categories.

James H. Gray Award for Short Nonfiction 

  • paulo da costa (Calgary) – “Learning To Shave, Learning To Leave,” The Fiddlehead

Jury remarks: This poetic essay explores the richness of a father/son relationship in language that is tender, emotionally vibrant, and physically sensual. A lyric antidote to toxic masculinity, this beautifully crafted and fully realized essay results in something much larger than a simple combination of its carefully worded parts. It’s a lovely examination of fatherhood, and what is passed down through generations, and how different generations express love.

Every literary work reflects a lifetime of experience and lots of solitary hours filled with dread and frustration. I hope every author who was shortlisted or is a winner celebrates tonight under that full moon, and knows that the anguish was worth it. As a reader I am so grateful to all of you, and am sending each of you a virtual bottle of champagne. (Rosemary Griebel)
Please also support and read the work of all finalists for these awards. They are all equally worthy of our attention for the quality of their work. My especial congratulations to JENNIFER BOWERING DELISLE and OMAR MOUALLEM who shared the nomination in my category. I was honoured to be in your company. (paulo da costa)

(she/her) is the author of the lyric family memoir The Bosun Chair (NeWest 2017); and Deriving, a poetry collection forthcoming from the University of Alberta Press. She has a PhD in English, and has also published a scholarly monograph. She joined the board of NeWest Press in 2018, and regularly teaches creative writing at the University of Alberta Faculty of Extension. She lives in Edmonton on Treaty 6 territory with her husband and two young children. Find her at or @JenBDelisle.

OMAR MOUALLEM is a journalist, author, screenwriter, and filmmaker who has worked for The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, CBC and WIRED. He’s edited numerous magazines, guest-hosted the CANADALAND podcast, and co-created a documentary about oil-sector suicides. Omar co-authored a national bestseller about the Fort McMurray wildfires, and his forthcoming book, a travel memoir about Muslims in the Americas, will  be published by Simon & Schuster Canada in 2021. He also founded Pandemic University Pop-up School of Writing in support of writers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.WGA CNF Award HR


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