John Lent inspires poetry winner

A Winnipeg writer has become the inaugural winner of the Kalamalka Press John Lent Poetry-Prose Award.

  • Jul. 27, 2012 7:00 p.m.

A Winnipeg writer has become the inaugural winner of the Kalamalka Press John Lent Poetry-Prose Award.

Ariel Gordon received the award for her manuscript How to Make a Collage.

“The winning selection fearlessly wrestles the complexities of human relationships using emotionally dynamic lines and metaphors,” wrote the judges, Okanagan College English professors Laisha Rosnau, Jake Kennedy and Kevin McPherson.

Gordon’s collection of poetry was selected from 36 manuscripts. Honourable mentions went to Kathleen Brown (Documenting the Brink) and Claire Caldwell (Osteogenesis) for their submissions that demonstrate “haunting/halting imagery and profound attention to sound.”

The award is named after retired Okanagan College Regional Dean and English professor John Lent, who co-founded Kalamalka Press.

And it was Lent’s name, in part, that drew Gordon to enter the contest.

“Three things were highly intriguing to me about this contest,” Gordon wrote on her blog Jane Day Reader when she heard the good news this week.

“John Lent not only had a very interesting career, but is also very generous to new writers, including me from the few times we’ve met.”

Gordon, who works as promotional/editorial assistant at the University of Manitoba Press, said there were other connections as well.

Kalamalka Press recently published Flight Calls by her close friend, writer Brenda Schmidt, and perhaps I should by Peter Midgley, with whom Gordon shared the stage at a recent reading in Winnipeg.

“Winning this prize seems like a convergence of all these different parts of my writing life,” said Gordon from her Winnipeg office. “But first and foremost, it’s an honour to be published with the press John founded, and, specifically, under the aegis of a prize named after him.”

Now with the award in hand, she’s even more thrilled to learn the chapbook – her fourth – will be letterpressed by Jason Dewinetz, another English professor with Okanagan College.

“He’s brilliant,” she said. “I followed his Greenboathouse Books for years. He has such a fine eye for design so I’m greatly looking forward to what he and his students do with this text.”

Gordon will also receive a $100 honorarium as part of the award. Her chapbook will be published in the coming academic year.

Gordon was the 2010 recipient of the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer and the 2011 Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry / Le Prix Lansdowne du poesie for her first collection of poetry, Hump (Palimpsest Press, 2010). More recently, three of her poems have recently been selected for an upcoming ecopoetry anthology called Entanglements, to be published this fall by Scotland’s Two Ravens Press.

Over the years, Kalamalka Press books have been short-listed and nominated for numerous regional and national awards, including the Pat Lowther Award. The press has also been instrumental in launching the significant careers of Karen Connelly, Nancy Holmes, Sue Wheeler, and Dona Sturmanis.