Calgary poet wins award named after Vernon’s Lent

Nikki Sheppy’s Grrrlhood: a ludic suite wins Kalamalka Press’ second annual John Lent Poetry-Prose Award.

A Calgary poet  has won the Kalamalka Press’ second annual John Lent Poetry-Prose Award, named after the Vernon writer and former regional dean/professor at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus.

Nikki Sheppy’s Grrrlhood: a ludic suite, was selected from nearly 40 manuscripts.

“It was a wonderful and challenging process this time ‘round,” said Kevin McPherson, one of the judges and editors of Kalamalka Press. “We had so many muscly entrees that the shortlist ended up being quite long.”

Honorable mentions went to Natalie Simpson for her work Surge, and Ben Ladouceur for Telegram from the Seventeenth Arrondissement.

“Reading Sheppy’s poems ionized our molecules. They marble lived experiences within raw, fearless and playful linguistic calisthenics,” said McPherson, who joined fellow area writers and teachers, Laisha Rosnau and Jake Kennedy in judging the submissions.

Grrrlhood was written in a “spirit of derring-do” and by having “a really great time trying out different literary games and styles, allowing myself to go astray as much as possible,” said Sheppy, who with this award will see her first published collection of poetry, which she finished while attending the Banff Centre Writing Studio.

The honorarium for the winner has increased this year from $100 to $250. The chapbook will be designed by Okanagan College  English professor and award-winning bookmaker Jason Dewinetz, with letterpress printed by students in the college’s writing and publishing diploma program.

Sheppy is familiar with Dewinetz’s work as a bookmaker through Greenboathouse Press.

“I love the tactility and attentive design of letterpress books, which continue to seduce readers into an engagement with the materiality of literature,” she said.

Last year’s winner, Ariel Gordon’s How to Make a Collage, sold out within two weeks.