Last night I received The 2017 Youth / Emerging Writer Award from the Writer’s Guild of Alberta. I felt the best way to express my thanks was to learn about and honour those who came before me (specifically, the Alberta Literary Award shortlist nominees!). Below is a copy of my acceptance speech.
Congratulations all shortlisted nominees and award recipients.
Thank you Writer’s Guild of Alberta staff, members, and award sponsor Nicole Duley. I am so excited. As always, I have to thank my husband Freddy for his encouragement and my children for the inspiration they provide, and the exceptional talents of Margaret Macpherson and Tim Bowling as they were this story’s first readers.
The last time I accepted an award from the WGA I was so excited I actually sang. Afterwards, people joked that next time I’d have to dance if I wanted to top the performance. But that was two years ago. I have grown. I am much more dignified now. I am serious and adult. Grounded in self-respect and personal nobility.
So I wrote a poem.
We are the Emerging
I want to thank you, Veteran Writers, because without you, my kind wouldn’t exist.
We’re grateful for your every word, turn-of-phrase, dialog tag, hell – even grocery list.
We are the emerging, and my kind feasts on the work of those who came before
On the reflective aches of Harrison, Gould, and Youngblut, those images that fill and heal us at our core.
We are the emerging, devouring in-depth essays, reports, and interviews
Mary Graham, Klinkenberg, Moullem, Sharp and Braid remedy all this #fakenews.
We are the emerging, savoring Villeneuve and Hajnoczky’s linguistic fun,
Astonished as we struggle magyarazi the je ne sais quoi of our only tongue.
We are the emerging and we celebrate those who graduate our chrysalis sheath
Congratulations Lisa Lawrence and Lauralyn Chow, you have cut your Paper Teeth!
We are the emerging, heads down and pens up, keep on trucking like a trucker
This craft moves slow for everyone, except Austen Lee and that’s like, Really? Mother – !
We are the emerging, breaking, stumbling, who I am but a stupid child?
Enter Altrows, Kvern, McFayden, and Ouchi: no girl. You are wild.
We are the emerging, wondering sometimes, what is this all for?
Till at bedtime the kids ask for a Hughes, Feurer, or Georgia Graham and we see that future score.
We are the emerging, but hesitant, like, what do we even know?
Then Close and Griffiths explore Reull and Wharton calls from a glacier top, “There’s nowhere we can’t go!”
We are the emerging, dreaming of book sales, wiki pages, one-day future glory,
The genius of Myrna Kotash or Vern Thiessen; the Golden Pen of Candas Jane Dorsey!
So again, thank you Wordsmiths, for your discipline, courage, and wit,
If not for you we’d shrivel and starve. Our existence gives thanks that you didn’t quit.
— Omar Mouallem (@omar_aok) June 11, 2017