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City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize

The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize is awarded in honour of acclaimed Calgary writer W.O. Mitchell and recognizes literary achievement by Calgary authors. Established in 1996, the W.O. Mitchell Book Prize is coordinated through a partnership between The City of Calgary and the Writers' Guild of Alberta, which administers the award as part of the Alberta Literary Competitions.

Entries are judged by an independent jury recruited by the Writers' Guild of Alberta. Shortlisted authors have an opportunity to deliver a reading. The winning author receives a $5,000 cash prize and receives the award at the Calgary Awards Presentation in June.

Sharon Butala's Season of Fury and Wonder

2024 Finalists


The City of Calgary and the Writers’ Guild of Alberta are pleased to announce the finalists for The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize, one of 13 Calgary Awards:

The Bittlemores by Jann Arden

Cantata and The Extinction Therapist by Clem Martini

It Begins in Salt by Natalie Meisner

Finalists reading


You are invited to a finalists reading hosted by the Writers’ Guild of Alberta:

Wednesday, April 10, 2024, at 7 p.m.
Shelf Life Books
1302 4th Street S.W., Calgary
Free to attend

The Bittlemores

Jann Arden

Penguin Random House

On mean Harp Bittlemore’s blighted farm, hidden away in the Backhills, nothing has gone right for a very long time. Crops don’t grow, the pigs and chickens stay skinny and the three aged dairy cows, Berle, Crilla and Dally, are so desperate they are plotting an escape. The one thing holding them back is the thought of abandoning young Willa, the single bright point in their life since her older sister, Margaret, ran away.

But Willa Bittlemore, just turning 14, is planning her own rebellion. Something doesn’t add up in the story she’s been told about her missing sister, and she's beginning to question if her horrible parents are even her parents at all. Just as things are really coming to a head, a bright young police officer starts investigating a cold case involving a baby stolen from a little rural hospital 28 years earlier, and Willa and the cows find out exactly how far the Bittlemores will go to protect a festering secret.

Written with Jann’s trademark outrageous humour and full of her down-to-earth wisdom, The Bittlemores is a rural fairytale, a coming-of-age story and a prairie mystery all-in-one, saturated with her observations of the world she grew up in and her deep connection to the animals we exploit. This marvel of a first novel digs into how people come to be so cruel, but it also glories in the miracle of human kindness.

Cantata and The Extinction Therapist

Clem Martini

Durvile & UpRoute

Clem Martini’s award-winning play, Cantata: Rumours of My Crazy, Useless Life provides a window into the experience of people going through the hidden, high-stakes struggles of elder care and mental illness.

In The Extinction Therapist, Dr. Marshall’s therapeutic practice offers group support to those threatened with extinction including a woolly mammoth, a testy short-eared shrew, the uncompromising smallpox virus, an insecure tyrannosaurus rex They all convene to receive therapy, in an attempt to come to terms with the complicated, volatile feelings associated with their life-and-death circumstances.

It Begins in Salt

Natalie Meisner

Frontenac House

It Begins in Salt, a book of poems, wanders the halls of an ocean blue-collar life while rummaging the heart spaces of growing up, and evolves into mothering, labours, and loves.

The poems explore the ways the heart grows, and the tentacles of complexity grow and evolve “to infinity”. This book of poems is a love letter to those that share the tides of life. It urges us to love harder and give homage to those loved.

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