Edna alford

Edna Alford. Courtesy K Efstathiou.

Edna Alford (born 19 November 1947) is a Canadian poet, short story writer, and editor.


Alford was born Edna Sample in Turtleford, Saskatchewan,[1] the 2nd oldest child of George and Edith Sample.

She attended Adam Bowden Collegiate in Saskatoon, and was awarded scholarships to the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts, where her teachers included Jack Hodgins, W.P. Kinsella, Rudy Wiebe, and Robert Kroetsch.[1]

She majored in English at the University of Saskatchewan, and working summers at hospitals and nursing homes for the chronically ill (experiences that would inspire her early fiction).[1]

She co-founded Dandelion magazine in 1975,[1] and edited Grain magazine from 1985 to 1990.

Alford served as associate director of the Banff Centre's Writing Studio for over a decade. During that time, she mentored several award-winning writers, including Yann Martel and Lisa Moore.[2] She co-edited several anthologies published by the Banff Centre.[3]

She edited Gloria Sawai's Song for Nettie Johnson, which won the Governor General's Award for Fiction,[4] along with short story collections by Bonnie Burnard, Fred Stenson and many others.[5]

She sat on Coteau Books' editorial board and on several literary juries such as the Canada Council, Saskatchewan Arts Board, and CBC's annual short fiction contest.[6]

She is married to theoretical mathematician Richard Cushman


A Sleep Full of DreamsEdit

Alford's debut short story collection, A Sleep Full of Dreams, looks at the lives of residents and workers in Pine Mountain Lodge senior citizens' home.

Jeremy LaLonde describes Alford's collection as a narrative of community. "On a thematic level, what distinguishes A Sleep Full of Dreams from other narratives of community is that the community it portrays (a retirement home) has rarely been depicted in a sustained way or with such stark realism," he writes. He also calls the collection "exemplary in its use of imagistic links."[7]

Reviewer M.G. Osachoff noted that through the collection, Alford shows readers "that there is beauty and dignity in growing old. Avoiding sentimentality, she gives us all the unsavory details aboutold age, and yet makes us care about the old women who are Aria's (sic) patients." [8]

The Garden of Eloise LoonEdit

Alford's 2nd collection, The Garden of Eloise Loon, deals with mental illness and apocalyptic themes. Most of the stories are set in rural Saskatchewan, and many of them in the Turtle Lake area. David Carpenter writes that Alford "usurps the quaint moderation that has been accorded to Saskatchewan by those who don't understand its hazardous otherness. The occupation of disaster, the story of loss, pain, and indignity, recites a quinitessentially Saskatchewan moment of hesitation inlaid with the exaggerated tales the province incites." "[9]


Alford was a co-winner of the Gerald Lampert Award for best new Canadian writer in 1982.[1]

She won the 3rd annual $10,000 Marian Engel Award in 1988.[1]


Short fictionEdit

  • A Sleep Full of Dreams. Lantzville, BC: Oolichan Books, 1981.
  • The Garden of Eloise Loon. Lantzville, BC: Oolichan Books, 1986.


  • Kitchen Talk: Contemporary women's prose and poetry (edited with Claire Harris). Red Deer, AB: Red Deer College Press, 1992.
  • Meltwater: Fiction and poetry from the Banff Centre for the Arts (edited with Rhea Tregebov, Rachel Wyatt, & Don McKay). Banff, AB: Banff Centre Press, 1999.
  • Rip-Rap: Fiction and poetry from the Banff Centre for the Arts (edited with Rhea Tregebov, Rachel Wyatt, & Don McKay). Banff, AB: Banff Centre Press, 1999.
  • Intersections: Fiction and poetry from the Banff Centre for the Arts (edited with Rhea Tregebov). Banff, AB: Banff Centre Press, 2000.
  • 2000% Cracked Wheat: Breakfast for the millennium (edited by Edna Alford, Robert Currie, & Don Kerr). Regina : Coteau Books, 2000.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[10]

See alsoEdit


  • W.H. New, editor. Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002.
  • Lalonde, Jeremy. Narrative Community in Edna Alford’s A Sleep Full of Dreams. Studies in Canadian Literature. Volume 29, Number 2 (2004).
  • Osachoff, M.G.. "Intoxication". Canadian Literature, 6 Feb. 2013. Web. 17 May 2015.
  • Carpenter, David. The Literary History of Saskatchewan: Volume 2 - Progressions. Coteau Books, 2014.
  • Author Unknown. "Edna Alford Biography." The Banff Centre. Web. 17 May 2015.
  • Shea, Theresa. "Gloria Sawai: A Tribute to a writer and friend." Alberta Views, Vol 15, No 2, March 2012, pgs 38-43.
  • Aikens, Aften. "Celebrating Edna Alford’s storied career." Made in Banff: The Banff Centre Blog. May 13, 2013.


External linksEdit

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