Okanagan College’s Kalamalka Press has chosen the fourth annual winner of the John Lent Poetry-Prose Award.
Montreal-based writer Helen Hajnoczky’s chapbook, Bloom and Martyr, was selected from nearly 40 manuscripts.
“The quality of submissions was stupidly high this year. It was such a privilege to read them all and such torment to have to choose only one for the crown,” said Kevin McPherson, managing editor of Kalamalka Press. “But Helen’s work is singular in its courage to invent sounds and imagery that pulse across the page and plants itself right into a reader’s neural pathways.”
Hajnoczky’s first book, Poets and Killers, was published by Snare Books in Montreal, while her poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies published across Canada.
Magyarázni, her second full-length poetry collection, will appear next year from Coach House Books.
“I’m so honoured that my work was chosen,” wrote Hajnoczky. “Nikki Sheppy, whose chapbook Grrrrlhood: A ludic suite won the John Lent Poetry Prose award in 2013, and Natalie Simpson, whose work received honourable mention that same year, were the biggest influences on this work, so it’s especially thrilling to have part of Bloom and Martyr chosen this year.”
Judges for the award included Kevin McPherson Eckhoff, Laisha Rosnau and Jake Kennedy, who has just published his third full-length poetry collection, Merz Structure No. 2 Burnt by Children at Play.
The judges also selected a runner-up, Biceps the Size of Tort Law in Singapore: The Minutes (XXV-XXXIII) by Alessandro Porco, and a shortlist of honourable mentions: Leather Heart by Trystan Carter, Ordinary Attrition by Cameron Anstee, and The Story from Here by Paul Hong.
Hajnoczky will receive an honorarium of $500, while her manuscript will be printed as a letterpress chapbook designed by Okanagan College English professor and award-winning bookmaker Jason Dewinetz and made by students at the college’s writing and publishing diploma program in the spring of 2016.
A handful of copies of last year’s winner, Wearing Your Pants by Nicholas Papaxanthos, as well as Okanagan College’s 3-Hour Short Story winner, Jesse Frechette’s Lost Control, are still available for purchase through the press’s website at kalamalkapress.ca.