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BPAA Conference and Gala 2016

The annual Book Publishers Association of Alberta Conference and Awards celebration was held in Calgary’s Hotel Arts, which provided an inspiring backdrop for three days of activity.

The conference was filled with interesting and instructive presentations by publishers, writers, librarians, funders, and even a film producer who told the audience that he was looking for “untold and unbelievable” stories to develop. Sharing information is a powerful tool in the constantly changing business of publishing.

The Awards celebration started out with Will Ferguson’s fabulous and funny keynote speech that left the audience wanting more. Fred Stenson kept the program moving. And the food was truly excellent.

The University of Alberta Press came away with two awards. Standard candles by Alice Major won the Robert Kroetsch Award for Poetry and Street Sex Work and Canadian Cities by Shawna Ferris won the Book of the Year in the Scholarly and Academic category.

Here is what the jurors had to say about our books:

Robert Koetsch Award for Poetry

The jury was impressed by the design quality and promotional efforts of all the entries this year, and was encouraged by the high bar that was set. They were unanimous not only on 9781772120912_largethe winner but on the runner up as well. Above and beyond the design and promotion, what set the top two books apart was the quality of the writing. However, this book was the clear winner, given the depth and breadth of its subject matter as well as the exceptional writing. It is an intricate weaving of complex scientific theory with the stuff of everyday human existence in a voice that is thoughtful, wry, and deeply compassionate. The publisher is to be congratulated on the success of the design and on their strong and effective promotional efforts. A solid team effort to publish an exceptional book of poetry.

Scholarly and Academic

This book is a groundbreaking look at the issue of prostitution in Canada’s urban centers. 9781772120059_largeIt is of particular relevance given the national inquiry into murdered and missing Aboriginal women. The author is to be commended for incorporating the voices of individuals in the sex trade, and for shining light on the vulnerability of sex workers. The book challenges the traditional mores of Canadian society, and will serve as an important reference work for social workers, law makers and law enforcers, as well as educators. The publisher is to be commended for its work in publishing this seminal study.

Congratulations to Alice and Shawna, and to all who were involved in publishing these great books!

A big thank you goes to the BPAA, especially Kieran Leblanc, Tyler Mudrey, Glenn Rollans, and the Professional Development Committee for organizing such a great event. It couldn’t have happened without a host of funders and sponsors: Alberta Media Fund, Canada Council, Department of Canadian Heritage, Access Copyright Foundation, Calgary Arts Development, the City of Calgary, the City of Edmonton, Edmonton Arts Council, Friesens, Houghton Boston, Marquis, and MNP LPP.

See you all next year!


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Books by their covers… or what’s a footnote for?

The University of Alberta Press has published many of Alice Major’s poetry collections; four, to be precise. The latest, Standard candles, inspired two blog posts by Alice that we’d like to share here, with her permission, of course.

Many-a-things make a book, and Alice’s reflections touch on two of the elements: footnotes and covers. She muses:

It’s a little embarrassing to be a poet who needs notes to her poems. Ten pages of them in Standard candles – good grief, Alice, are you writing poetry or an academic paper? 


There’s nothing quite like the first sight of your book cover—and the artwork that a designer has chosen for it. It’s like catching an unexpected reflection in a mirror and, slightly surprised, thinking, ‘Oh! That’s me?’

We’d like to take the opportunity to congratulate Alice: Standard candles is on the League of Canadian Poet’s shortlist for the 2016 Raymond Souster Award.

Other UAP books by Alice: The Office Tower Tales, The Occupied World, Memory’s Daughter, and her non-fiction book, Intersecting Sets.


Alice Major will be one of the readers at our Literary Cocktails on April 20 @ 4:00 pm. Please join us at the Faculty Club, and hear poems by Juliane Okot Bitek [100 Days] and Richard Therrien [Sleeping in Tall Grass]. The event’s MC will be Dennis Cooley, who also has a new book – The Home Placethat has just been published by UAP.

Literary Cocktails 2013

It was wonderful to have many fans and friends out to celebrate with us on April 23. Literary Cocktails is the signature event of the University of Alberta Press. Once again, it took place in collaboration with the Edmonton Poetry Festival.

Literary Cocktails is the perfect occasion to launch UAP’s new fiction titles in a festive spirit — although we are still waiting for Spring! There was something for everyone: popular culture delivered by Kimmy Beach [The Last Temptation of Bond], dramatic prose from Astrid Blodgett [You Haven’t Changed a Bit], and aboriginal history via Paul Zits’s poetry [Massacre Street].

Even though the sky was grey and gloomy, we had a lovely time, led by our MC, Patricia Demers, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies here at the University of Alberta. We recently published her latest book, Travels and Tales of Miriam Green Ellis.

A wonderful dimension was added by our musician-colleagues, Jerome Martin (piano) and Ted Bishop (guitar). The event was a huge success, and we hope to see all of you again next year!

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Alberta Book Awards, 2012 Edition

The 2012 Alberta Book Awards were better than ever, with over 200 people in attendance. What a tremendous showing from the literary community! Jackie Flanagan’s keynote speech was the perfect start to the evening, delivered with emphasis, empathy, and emotion. Her talk about F.M. Salter, father of Alberta letters, and her well-expressed views on the importance of culture and literacy received a warm reception.

It went on to be a particularly stellar night for Alberta’s university presses. The University of Alberta Press had a hand in four of the award-winning projects:

  • Alice Major won the Wilfrid Eggleston Award for her remarkable book, Intersecting Sets. It was doubly sweet, coming on the heels of a phone call telling her that one of her essays from the book had won a Gold award in the National Magazine Awards. “Ultraviolet Catastrophes” was published in a special joint issue of The New Quarterly and Arc Poetry Magazine.
  • Susan McCaslin came all the way from Victoria, BC to win the inaugural Robert Kroetsch Award for Poetry for her book, Demeter Goes Skydiving. And surely Robert was sitting beside Susan and Kath MacLean, who recently won WordFest’s Anne Green Award, cheering them on.
  • Ann Hall’s marvelous book, The Grads Are Playing Tonight!, won the Trade Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award. This was a tough award for us, as two other UAP titles were in the running. Our hearts were in our mouths and our hearts were on our sleeves, thrilled for the one author and bleeding for the other two.
  • It was heart-warming to hear the whoops and congratulatory susurration as Peter Midgley’s name was called. He took home the Lois Hole Award for Editorial Excellence for his work with Jalal Barzanji, on The Man in Blue Pyjamas. Jalal, his wife Sabah and daughter Niga were in the audience.

Sarah Carter and Patricia McCormack won the Scholarly and Academic Book Award for Recollecting: Lives of Aboriginal Women of the Canadian Northwest and Borderlands, published by Athabasca University Press. This is another remarkable book from topnotch scholars. (UAP and AUP co-published Sarah Carter’s award-winning book The Importance of Being Monogamous in 2008).

The University of Calgary Press was named Publisher of the Year. Our director, Linda Cameron, as President of the Book Publishers Association of Alberta (BPAA) and winner of the award last year, had the honour of handing the trophy to Donna Livingstone and her gifted team. NeWest Press, another crowd favourite, was runner-up for its consistently excellant work.

A highlight of the evening was seeing Wayne Arthurson take home $10,000 for the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award, sponsored by the Edmonton Public Library, for his book, Fall From Grace.

Alan Brownoff was pleased to see two talented peers take home design awards: Natalie Olsen of Kisscut Design for House of Spells by Robert Pepper-Smith and our colleague Marvin Harder for Three-Persons and the Chokitapix by Allen Ronaghan.

As Jannie Edwards said in her moving acceptance speech for the James H. Gray Award for Short Nonfiction, “It takes a tribe to create a writer.” And the tribe was in full evidence to celebrate Fred Stenson for his work as he accepted the WGA’s Golden Pen Award, and founding board member of NeWest Press, Diane Bessai, who was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award by the book publishing industry. That tribe will be out in force as its members ponder the sudden and deep cuts to the Literary Press Group (LPG), a not-for-profit association of Canadian literary book publishers, whose mandate is to foster the survival, growth and maintenance of Canadian owned and operated publishing houses through advocacy and group initiatives.

It takes several tribes to bring off such a fabulous event. Our thanks to:

We can’t begin to describe all the wonderful moments; if you weren’t able to come this year, be sure to plan on being part of the gathering in Edmonton next spring, when we come together once again to celebrate writers, creators, designers, and publishers.

Peter Midgley Reads at The Untitled Bookshop

Come join League of Canadian Poets members Jenna Butler, Jannie Edwards, Peter Midgley, Nicole Pakan, and Patrick M. Pilarski, along with special guest Wendy Joy, for a night of winter-vanquishing verse.

In addition to fine words, there will be refreshments and a raffle for literature-related prizes. The event will occur at one of Edmonton’s newest and most exciting used bookstores: The Untitled Bookshop. Attendance free (but donations are welcome).

Thursday, March 10, 2011
7:30 pm (doors at 7:00 pm)
The Untitled Bookshop
No. 1, 10516 Whyte Avenue, Edmonton

Ottawa son garners kudos within own glorious capital city

As he is wont sometimes to remind us, “rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, even though he was born there.” This has not dissuaded Ottawa Xpress from acknowledging mclennan’s sincere and abiding engagement with the city. Nor has the fact that mclennan wrote wild horses, the book that won him his seat the 2010 Best of Ottawa banquet, while he was Writer in Residence at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton.

As Robert Kroetsch would say, so much for that.

Kidding aside, mclennan brings his own curious and inquisitive sensitivities to bear on a city (Edmonton) that many of us (Edmontonians) may gloss over or even doggedly ignore. He manages to sustain his lyrical intensity while periodically and pointedly interrogating ideas of place, and the very places themselves; he tries on Edmonton for size, and cut and colour, etc; he keeps coming back to place.

With uncanny devotion and renewable vision, he keeps coming back.

Which may be why mclennan’s wild horses is (also) a shoo in for the Best of Ottawa’s Best work of fiction/non-fiction/poetry by local writer. How can denizens of Canada’s glorious capital city (Ottawans) not help but recognize themselves right there, and there, there, amidst the wayward son’s own literary peregrinations?

congratulations rob.