There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.
- Red Smith
So why does a writer write? I guess the truth is I can't tell you why. I can only tell you what writing does for me. It satisfies my curiosity about the world around me, and my place in it. If I'm lucky, it pays the bills. It sometimes drives me crazy. It is a doorway, a window and a mirror. It challenges me, raises me up, and humbles me constantly. But ultimately, like blind fear and exuberant joy, it reminds me, I am alive. It affords me a moment of immortality, as I open that vein and leave a little of myself on the page.
I don't always love writing, but I usually love having written. The process is often nerve-wracking, with long periods of anxiety and self-doubt. I don't know if I chose writing or it chose me. A little of both I would think.
Writers are outsiders. They have to be. Burton Rascoe once wrote, "What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out the window." A writer's life is one spent in contradiction. You must fully immerse yourself in life, yet stay objective enough to report on it. And for this, we must all ask for forgiveness from those who love and inspire us, despite our absence from the dinner tables, family reunions, and birthday parties, as we are often their in body alone. Because there is one vital ingredient in our process those family and friends provide that we writers cannot live without, encouragement. A voice that says, "Keep going. What you're doing is important. Write it. Finish it." It is a voice we long to hear regardless of experience, talent or confidence. And it is a voice that echoes in the Dave Greber Freelance Writer's Award.
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Dave Greber was a prolific, working writer who was committed to the rigorous professionalism of non-fiction freelance writing. Though Dave wrote extensively about Canadian business, he also wrote about the environment, social justice issues, cowboys in Western Canada, and the lasting effects of violence on the individual. Dave wrote books and magazine articles on a wide range of subjects from the environment to issues related to social justice. Often, Dave was not content to simply report on issues. Later in his life, he also sought and posed possible solutions to the problems about which he wrote. This approach to writing is but one of the traits that made him such a remarkable presence.
In the last decade of his life Dave wrote at length about his experiences as a child of Holocaust survivors and, through continued research, he gave voice to the knowledge of other survivors. Much of his writing reflects a sense of urgency about issues of social justice in Canada and the wider world now bound together by the process of globalization. He recognized that the current world was still prone to violence and genocide that kills many and haunts its survivors. Dave continuously pursued the need for non-violent solutions and he recognized the chronic need that exists for the healing of brutalized lives. He felt that "an act of violence is a part of a stream of history not just an isolated act in time." He thought that the reverberations of violence "will continue unless the people affected decide there has to be another way." Dave devoted his personal energy through his writing and made other efforts to find and protect the "other" way. In life, he actively sought ways to build man's humanity to man.
After completing degrees in History and Political Science from the University of Western Ontario, Dave Greber left Toronto in 1974 to write and work on newspapers in Western Canada. He was a dedicated professional for whom writing was the breath of life. A passionate stylist and technician, he crafted stories that were powerful, effective and appealing. Dave was a quick study with a curious mind and a wicked sense of humor. He had an ability for telling stories across a variety of media and for a diverse range of markets and audiences.
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As a freelance writer in Calgary, Alberta, Dave expanded his writing skills and wrote in a wide range of areas that included considerable work on environmental issues and corporate responsibility for the environment. He scripted industrial films for major corporations and created training videos to meet a variety of requirements. Dave had a continuing interest in the development and growth of Canadian businesses. Over more than 20 years this led him to write magazine articles spanning dozens of topics of financial, investment and economic interest. He was a frequent contributor to CBC programming.
Dave wrote several books about business. He was the author of the Canadian best-sellers, Rising to Power: Paul Demarais and Power Corporation and Hustling For A Buck: The Adventure of Living Self Employed. In support and recognition of his professional work, Dave was the recipient of several grants and awards for writing excellence.
For many years Dave instructed courses in professional writing through Mt. Royal College (and subsequently Mt. Royal University), University of Calgary and the Calgary Board of Education. He continuously encouraged young writers through the generous use of his personal time and effort at young writer's conferences and by being a writer-in-residence at the community college level.
Dave was strongly attached to the West - its developing history and the parallel arrival of the cowboy. This deep personal resonance appeared in his music and derived from his direct experiences in cowboy life.
Dave Greber Resume (clickable PDF)
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Winners of the Dave Greber Freelance Writers Awards
Paul Webster 2013 Magazine Award Winner
Paul Webster, a Toronto-based freelance writer, is the winner of the $2000.00 Dave Greber Freelance Writers Magazine Award for his article Adverse Reactions, published in Vancouver Magazine. Vancouver Magazine published Adverse Reactions in April 2013. This is an investigative feature probing pharmaceutical industry pressure on the government of British Columbia. Adverse Reactions raises the question of whether the BC Liberals succumbed to industry pressure to curb the research program.
Paul is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has reported on themes in business, science, medicine and politics since 1992. He has won four National Magazine Awards and been nominated 11 times. He won the 2013 Stephen Hanson Award from the Canadian Bar Association for excellence in legal writing, the 2010 Western Magazine Awards Public Policy Award, and a Tier One Journalism Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in 2008. As a freelance writer in Russia, he wrote primarily for Canadian Business, Maclean's, The National Post, The Walrus as well a number of other magazines and journals.
Paul has published hundreds of articles on intersecting themes in medicine, science, law, politics and business. His films and television programs have been broadcast on the Arte, BBC, CBC, Discovery, Slice, SWR, and Vision networks.
Chris Benjamin 2013 Book Award Winner
Chris Benjamin, a Halifax freelance writer, is the winner of the $5000.00 Dave Greber Freelance Writers Book Award. The winning chapter titled Creation Story is from his forthcoming book The Shubenacadie Indian Residential School.
The Shubenacadie Indian Residential School, scheduled for publication by Nimbus Publishing in 2014, is the story of how the only residential school in Atlantic Canada came to be. Despite testimony from the churches and state, for the Truth & Reconciliation Commission regarding previous efforts to eradicate indigenous culture via the residential school system, the institutional histories of individual schools tend to remain shadowed.
Chris has worked in Indonesia, Toronto and Ghana. In Ghana he worked as a full-time journalist writing about the financially challenged nation's efforts to improve healthcare, justice, transportation, education and housing.
His first novel, Drive-by Saviours was short-listed for both Canada Reads and a ReLit Award and won the H.R. Percy Prize. His first non-fiction book, Eco-Innovators: Sustainability in Atlantic Canada (Nimbus, 2011) won the APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award and was a finalist for the Evelyn Richardson Non-fiction Prize.
Chris now writes news features for magazines and narrative research reports for NGOs. He has written for The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and many other magazines.
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Chris Turner 2012 Magazine Award Winner
The Walrus published the Chris Turner's winning article, entitled "On Tipping in Cuba," in April 2012. It tells the story of a writer discovering the uncomfortable socio-economics of the cheap beach vacation. Ostensibly about tourism and tours, it ultimately explores the sustainability of Cuba's economy and the toll its singular position in the global economy has taken on its citizens. It is a story of adaptations and resilience in tumultuous times.
The award winner, Chris Turner, has a wide array of writing experience over 15 years as a freelancer. He launched his career at Shift Magazine in the late 1990s, winning a gold award for one-of- a kind article at the National Magazine Awards for his writing on the social impacts of the booming internet gambling business in the Caribbean. He wrote almost exclusively about contemporary culture and digital technology for the next five years, earning several more National Magazine Awards along the way.
Turner has written three books, two of which explore solutions to climate change around the world: The Geography of Hope (2007) and The Leap (2011). Chris believes that the defining issue of our time is climate change and our collective socioeconomic response to it.
In addition to being a full-time writer he frequently delivers public lectures and speeches on the topic of sustainability. His focus is on human society, human systems and the urgent need to retrofit them for sustainability - ecological, social and economic - if we intend to survive and thrive in this chaotic century.
He has written features for a wide range of magazines and newspapers, among them The Walrus, Alberta Views, Maclean's, The Globe and Mail and Report on Business. He has won eight National Magazine Awards, including a gold award in 2011 for a Walrus feature on the sustainability crisis in Canadian farming.
Jennifer Cockrall-King 2011 Book Award Winner
Ms.Cockrall-King's successful submission was the ninth chapter of her first book, Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution. The book was published by Prometheus Books in February 2012.
Jennifer's book about food and social (food) justice grew out of a 2007 trip to Cuba to research alternative food systems and urban agriculture. As the project grew, she travelled to Paris, London, Vancouver, Toronto, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, and New York. Urban agriculture projects in Calgary and Edmonton also are featured in the book. Her goal is to show that grassroots initiatives such as community gardens, urban farms, local food hubs and school gardens are having a profound transformative effect for the better on the cities in which we live.
Jennifer is as freelance food writer whose work has appeared in many publications such as Maclean's, Canadian Geographic, National Post, NUVO, Alberta Views, Alberta Venture, Westworld, Chicago Sun-Times and CBC Canada One. Jennifer has won a number of Magazine Awards (Western Canadian Magazine Award) and has been short listed for several others. Jennifer teaches food and magazine writing courses at Grant MacEwan University, University of Alberta's Faculty of Extension, and University of British Columbia Okanagan in Kelowna. She is he founder and producer of the Okanagan Food and Wine Writers Workshop.
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Chris Cannon 2011 Magazine Award Winner
Chris Cannon, a BC-based freelance writer, was the 2011 winner of the Dave Greber Freelance Writers Magazine Award. Chris received the $2000.00 Award at The Word on the Street Book and Magazine Festival Vancouver. Vancouver magazine (April 2011) published the winning article titled "The Deserter," the story of Rodney Watson who spent a year fighting in Iraq with the US Army. Ordered to return he went AWOL instead, finding sanctuary in a Vancouver church with his new wife and son. Now he's fighting to stay out of an American prison.
Chris Cannon has a wide array of writing experience, including reporter for Rolling Stone, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, contributing editor to Vancouver magazine and author of four books on music and travel. Over the last four years his work has steadily gravitated toward social and environmental topics, including a four-part series for the Tyee in 2010 on the rediscovery of community ties as a path toward environmental sustainability, for which he received a fellowship from the Tides Foundation. Other work he has written on issues of sustainability, community and the social impact of war has found support with grants and fellowships from the Canadian Arts Council, the British Columbia Arts Council, and the Banff Centre for the Arts.
Marcello DiCintio 2009 & 2005 Award Winner
In 2009 Mr. DiCintio won the Dave Greber Freelance Writers Award for his article titled Walls of Shame published by Geist Magazine. It is an adaptation of a chapter from his book in progress about communities that live in the shadow of walls, fences and other "hard" barriers.
In 2005 Mr. DiCintio's winning submission was In the Holy City, Pilgrimage, a chapter from his book, Poets and Pahlevans: Travels in Iran, published in 2006 by Alfred A Knopf Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Ltd. Knowing that there was a relationship between heroic poetry and various styles of traditional Persian wrestling, DiCintio set out to discover how Iranians "reconcile creativity with combat.".
Marcello was born in Calgary and studied Microbiology and English at the University of Calgary. He graduated in 1997 with a pair of degrees (BA and BSc).
His first book, Harmattan: Wind Across West Africa. Harmattan won the Henry Kriesel Award for Best First Book at the Alberta Book Awards. Since then, he published articles in numerous magazines and literary journals including The Walrus, EnRoute, Geist, and The Globe and Mail. His writing received several honours including the 2002 Maclean-Hunter Endowment Prize for Creative Non-fiction, and a number of Western and National Magazine Award nominations.
DiCintio is a member of the Writer's Union of Canada, PEN Canada and the Writer's Guild of Alberta. He was the 2009-2010 Markin-Flanagan Canadian Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calgary.
Marcello's Blog marcellodicintio.blogspot.com
You Tube Interview www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hkJwmSeVW8
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Deborah Campbell 2008 Award Winner
Deborah Campbell, Vancouver freelance writer, is the 2008 winner of the recently redesigned Dave Greber Freelance Writers Magazine Awards for her article published in the April 2008 issue of Harper's magazine entitled Exodus: Where will Iraq Go Next? Based on the two months she spent living among Iraqi refugees in Syria, the article is considered one of the most comprehensive accounts of the human story behind the ongoing Iraqi refugee crisis.
The $2000 prize was presented to Ms. Campbell on September 28, 2008 at the Word on The Street Book and Magazine Festival in Vancouver.
Deborah Campbell is an award-winning writer whose work has taken her to Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Dubai, Cuba, Russia and Israel-Palestine. Deborah's book, This Heated Place: Encounters in the Promised Land (Douglas and McIntyre, 2002) is a literary journey inside the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines a few of which include Harper's, The Walrus, The Economist, New Scientist, Ms., the Guardian, Adbusters, Vancouver Magazine, Vancouver Review, and in anthologies, essay collections and scholarly journals in Europe, Asia and North America. Her radio documentaries have aired on CBC radio and NPR. Deborah has guest lectured widely on social justice issues and the state of media democracy.
Deborah studied history, political science, languages and Near East Religions at universities on four continents. An adjunct professor of literary nonfiction at the University of British Columbia, she is currently teaching creative nonfiction writing to graduate students. Deborah is a founding member of the FCC literary journalism collective.
Deborah's web site http://deborahcampbell.ca.
Harper's Magazine http://www.harpers.org/
John Vigna 2007 Award Winner
The 2007 recipient of the award was John Vigna, a Vancouver freelance writer. Mr. Vigna's successful submission, his magazine article The Ballad of Big and Small about his relationship to his drug and alcoholic addicted brother and the family in which they grew up, was published in the fall of 2007 by Grain Magazine. The $2000 award was presented to Mr. Vigna on September 30, 2007 at The Word on The Street, Book and Magazine Fair in Calgary.
John Vigna is an award-winning fiction and non-fiction writer who lives in Richmond, BC with his wife, the author Nancy Lee, and his indomitable dog, Jaine.
John has been a self-employed writer since 1989 and has devoted himself full time as a freelance professional writer since 1999. His writing has been featured in many magazines and newspapers, including The Georgia Strait, The Vancouver Sun, The Vancouver Province, Banff Crag & Canyon and The Canmore Leader.
He has won a number of Professional Awards including scholarships from the BC Arts Council, Banff Cultural Journalism and Creative Non-Fiction Scholarship, Canada Council as well as the First Prize for Creative Non-Fiction Awarded by the Kootenay Writer's Guild. He was chosen as 2002 Vancouver Entrepreneur of the Year (Service Business-to-Business). John has recently completed his Master of Fine Arts at UBC in the Creative Writing Program.
John Vigna, is also is a fiction writer. His fiction has been featured in several literary anthologies along with his poetry. John has won several awards for his fiction including the 2007 First Prize for the Sub Terrain Lush Triumphant Fiction Contest, and a first prize from the Kootenay Writers Guild for his poetry.
John's web site http://www.johnvignawriter.blogspot.com/
Grain Magazine http://www.grainmagazine.ca
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Gordon Laird 2006 Award Winner
The 2006 winner of the Dave Greber Freelance Writers Award was Gordon Laird, a Calgary freelance writer. Mr. Laird's successful submission, The Price of a Bargain, is a chapter from his new book, The Quest for Cheap and The Death of Globalization (updated title) published by McClelland and Stewart Ltd.. The $2000 award was presented on September 24, 2006 at Word on the Street Book and Magazine Fair in Calgary.
Named "one of the best and best-informed minds in the world" by The Globe and Mail, Gordon Laird has won several National Magazine Awards, including top honors for investigative reporting. His second book, Power: Journeys Across an Energy Nation, was a national best-seller and was listed as one of Canada's top 100 books of 2003. His book anthology credits include Fuelling the Future (2003) and Return of the Trojan Horse (2005).
Gordon Laird's writing and commentary have been featured on CNN, National Public Radio, Far Eastern Economic Review, Report on Business, Mother Jones, Canadian Geographic, Maclean's, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, CBC Radio, CBC Television and CBC Newsworld.
Laird is a former Media Fellow for the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership, which resulted in the 2007 publication of Shelter, a six-year study of housing, poverty and homelessness that has since been toured across Canada. In 2008, Laird was shortlisted for the Atkinson Fellowship, Canada's most prestigious journalism award.
Gordon's Web site http://www.gordonlaird.com/
Brian Brennan 2004 Award Winner
Mr. Brennan's winning submission was for the chapter What's in a Name?-1896, Ha Ling Finally Gets his Due Recognition, from his book, Romancing the Rockies, published by Fifth House Ltd., a Fitzhenry and Whiteside Company. The book introduces the daring men and women who found themselves attracted irresistibly to the Canadian Rocky Mountains over the last 250 years. Writer, film producer, television and radio broadcaster, Fil Fraser presented the $1000.00 prize to Mr. Brennan on September 26, 2004 at The Word on the Street Book and Magazine Fair in Calgary.
Brian is the author of six critically acclaimed narrative non-fiction books about the colourful personalities of Western Canada's past. One of his titles, Scoundrels and Scallywags, was short-listed for the prestigious Grant MacEwan Author's Award. Brian's latest title, The Good Steward: The Ernest C. Manning Story, is the long-awaited first in-depth biography of the radio preacher who became Alberta's longest-serving premier.
His books include a biography of Canadian historian James H. Gray, and a biography of the nineteenth century Irish folk poet Mary O'Leary, which was nominated for the Irish Times Literary Prize. Brian has written freelance articles and columns for various publications including the New York Times, Globe and Mail and Toronto Star.
He serves on the National Council of The Writers' Union of Canada. president of the Canadian Association of Journalists (Calgary chapter), a national board member chairing the CAJ ethics committee and past president of the Canadian Theatre Critics Association.
His awards include two Western Magazine Awards (Gold Award Alberta, Science and Technology Award), for stories on regeneration of animal brain cells, and the national Hollobon Award for medical writing in Canada.
Brian's Web Site http://www.brian-brennan.com/
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