I can finally reveal my deep, dark secret life: I was a juror for the Isabel Miller Young Writers Award. Whew! There, now you know.
It was very hard for me to keep this secret for so long. Back in May I was approached by the Writers Guild of Alberta and my mission, if I chose to accept it, was to sit on a jury and judge hundreds of submissions of poetry and prose from 12 to 18 year olds. “Sure!” I said without a moment’s hesitation. “I love to judge people!”
But there was one caveat: I couldn’t tell anyone I was on this jury. “Not even my mom?” I asked, incredulous. The WGA rep laughed. “Okay, you can tell your mom – if she can be trusted!”
The need for all this secrecy is understandable. I mean, you wouldn’t want the entrants to know where to send gifts of chocolate, money, or cars. The Isabel Miller Award, after all, is arguably the top prize for young writers in Alberta. They’re in it to win it!
And this attitude showed in the high quality of submissions I received in June. The winner, Stephanie Li, blew me away (no pun intended) with her piece on a war photographer during the Vietnam War, “What Comes Between.” I read it over and over, marvelling at her talent.
The other winners, honorable mentions, and writers chosen for the anthology were similarly inspiring. And they are no hacks: Deana Freitas, 17, has a blog and has been involved in writing and the visual arts for quite some time. Janeen “Simply Jane” Dittmann is another blogster and writer in the making.
Now that the winners have been announced I can cast off my double-identity and tell the world about the talented writers here in Alberta. And I can look forward to meeting-and-greeting many of them September 19th at the launch at the Stanley Milner Library here in Edmonton.
But first I need to get back to work so I can keep pace with these up-and-comers!