There’s never a slow season, it seems, when it comes to honouring faculty, students and alumni of the Writing department.
Newly minted Writing MFA Erin Frances Fisher was announced as the winner of the 20th annual $5,000 Writers’ Trust RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers on May 27, with the jury praising her as “a writer you will see again.” Fellow top-three finalist and $1,000 winner Leah Jane Esau is also a former Writing student. Both were selected by the jury from a field of 133 blind submissions. The winning and nominated stories can be downloaded free at iTunes.com/BronwenWallace.
Fisher (who also holds a BFA from the Department of Writing) has had her stories been shortlisted and won prizes from The Malahat Review and PRISM international. Her work has also been published in Riddle Fence, Little Fiction, and Granta; she is also a pianist and a faculty member at the Victoria Conservatory of Music.
The Bronwen Wallace jury was quick to praise for her entry, “Girl,” as “a visceral tale guaranteed to make you shiver, ‘Girl’ reminds us of the truth that humans are more than blood and bone,” notes the jury. “With a surprising and perfect ending, flawless sentences throughout, and a consistently realistic tone, this short story is as vast and satisfying as a great novel.”
Former student Esau is a playwright and fiction writer based in Montreal, where she recently graduated from the National Theatre School of Canada. Her play Disappeared won the 2012 Pam Dunn Award as well as the 2012 Tom Hendry Award, and she holds an MA in drama from the University of Toronto. Her story “Dream Interpretation” was singled out as being “Compressed and expansive at the same time, ‘Dream Interpretation’ is a story that will leave you both completely satisfied and wanting more. Each new revelation is surprising and disturbing, as Leah Jane Esau skilfully doles out the backstory and brings her characters to life. Nothing is what it seems, least of all dreams.”
Writing MFA alumnus Garth Martens was the 2011 poetry winner in the Bronwen Wallace Awards, and alumna Marjorie Celona won for fiction in 2008. The RBC Bronwen Wallace Award rewards writers who are under age 35 and unpublished in book form, and alternates between poetry and fiction each year.
Meanwhile, longtime Writing instructor Madeline Sonik and current student K’ari Fisher are both on the 12-writer shortlist for the Exile Quarterly $15,000 Carter V. Cooper short fiction prize. Regardless of where they place in the contest, both will als be included in the forthcoming CVC4 Anthology. The winner of the Carter V. Cooper short fiction prize will be announced at the end of May.
Congratulations also go out to Writing alum Ashley Little for her pair of wins at the BC Book Prizes in May: her book The New Normal won the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize while her other book Anatomy of a Girl Gang picked up the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize!
Also in the “recent winner” category is alumna Kayla Czaga, who won first the $2,000 first-place prize in The Fiddlehead‘s 23rd annual Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize for her piece, “That Great Burgundy-Upholstered Beacon of Dependability.” Honourable mention in that same category also went to MFA alumna Kyeren Regehr for her poem, “Dorm Room 214,“ who picked up $250.
Two Writing department playwrights were also recently announced as winners of Theatre BC’s 2013 Playwriting Competition.
Congratulations to current undergrad Shedon Seigel and MFA grad Peter Boychuk. Siegel’s play Last Fall was selected as the winner of the One Act competition from a field of 23 entries, while Boychuk’s one-act play Gamergrlz was awarded the Special Merit prize. (Interesting side-note: Seigel’s play emerged from WR203, the second-year playwriting workshop, and was presented as a SATCO workshop production in the Department of Theatre in 2013.)
Seigel was also recently in the news as one of the final five finalists in the infamous Three-Day Novel Writing Contest. And Boychuk garnered media attention with a full production of his play Shelter from the Storm by Touchstone Theatre at Vancouver’s fabled Firehall Arts Centre in 2012.
The winning playwrights will have their plays read by volunteer actors during the week of Theatre BC’s Annual Provincial Theatre Festival “Destination Mainstage” led by host, jury member and Writing grad Michael Armstrong, July 8-10 at the Thompson Rivers University Actors Workshop Theatre in Kamloops BC. The Playwrights will also be honored at the Theatre BC “Destination Mainstage” Awards Ceremony on July 12. Seigel wins $750 and a trophy, while Boychuk receives $500 and a trophy.
Finally, Writing MFA alumna and busy playwright Sally Stubbs will be at Calgary’s Lunchbox Theatre in June, where her script Spinning You Home has been selected for the Suncor Energy Stage One Festival. After a week-long workshop process the play will be presented to the public in a staged reading.
Stubbs’ play Centurions was also selected from 75 cross-Canada submissions to be featured in Nightwood Theatre’s National Play Reading Series, part of the New Groundswell Festival which runs in September in Toronto. The script will receive a workshop and a public reading. Centurionshas also been shortlisted for the 2015 Women Playwrights International Conference in Cape Town.
And, after an intense period of rewrites, Stubbs’ revised script And Bella Sang with Us received a workshop and a very successful public reading at the Firehall Arts Centre’s BC Buds in May 11, and there will be a Winnipeg launch of the published script in October, sponsored by publisher Scirocco Drama.