The 2014 Kootenay Literary Competition is here!

Experience The Creative Power – and win some prize money while you’re at it.

The 2014/15 Kootenay Literary Competition is now open. “Velocity” is our theme for this year so get your pens revved up! Writers may interpret the theme in any way they like, and approach it through any of the genre categories. The theme is to be integrated into the creative work at the writer’s discretion.

The competition is open to anyone in the Kootenays 18 years and older with categories in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Cash prizes will be awarded to the first and second place winners in each category.

And for aspiring youth writers – Spring Scribble is coming in May 2015! This workshop, open to youth grades 9-12, will offer a weekend intensive with a professional writer to hone in on the skills needed for successful writing. Watch for more information coming soon.












Key Competition dates:

  • All entries must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday, January 16th, 2015
  • Prizes will be awarded at our Awards Celebration on February 26th, 2015





Meet the Judges


Tara Cunningham

Tara Cunningham

Tara Cunningham has been a freelance editor for a decade. She is the senior editor of Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine and associate editor of Coast Mountain Culture Magazine, awarded “BC’s Magazine of the Year” and Western Canada’s “Best New Magazine” respectively at the 2013 Western Magazine Awards. She lives in Nelson, British Columbia.



Jane Byers

Jane Byers








Jane Byers lives in Nelson, BC. Her first poetry collection, Steeling Effectswas published by Caitlin Press (March, 2014). She is the recipient of the 2014 Richard Carver Emerging Writer Award. Her work has appeared in Grain, Descant, The Antigonish Review, Plenitude, Rattle, the Canadian Journal of Hockey Literature and Best Canadian Poetry 2014.



Verna Relkoff

Verna Relkoff









Verna Relkoff lives in Nelson B.C. She has worked with writers for 25 years as teacher, editor and currently literary agent with Mint Literary Agency. She is the author of Cul De Sac (Hag Papers–imprint of underwhich editions).

She has a BFA: Creative Writing; University of Victoria, and a M.Ed: Role of Narrative in Transformational Learning; Simon Fraser University.

**A HUGE THANK YOU to these fine literary supporters for their time, energy, and support!

Gala Night: Kootenay Literary Competition Winners

The Kootenay Literary Competition awards were handed out at a gala event at the Prestige Lakeside Resort in Nelson on Friday, March 14.

Local winners were able to attend to receive their awards and offer a few words, but because the competition has started to draw in participants from across the Kootenays, not all of the winning authors could make the journey to Nelson.

The judges had a chance to talk about the entries and the range of writing they assessed from each category and it was clear they felt the work this year was of a high calibre. Two winners were selected in each of the five categories, as follows:

Youth Grades 7-9: Hannah Klemmensen of Rossland with Midnight Hangout, and Zoey Lowe of Golden, with The Cold.

Youth Grades 10-12: James Havelock Turner of Nelson, with Giu Andare, and Emily Hoff of Ymir, with A New Reality.

Adult Fiction: Eli Geddis of Nelson with Ninety Corn Dogs and a Porcupine, and Roz Nay of Nelson with The Innocence.

Adult Creative Non-Fiction: Leslie Davidson of Grand Forks with Hold On, and Graham Kenyon of Rossland with Salvation.

Adult Poetry: Jordan Mounteer of Winlaw with Helical, and Cheryl Thornton of Salmo with Grief is a Strange Companion.

The Richard Carver Award, to honour an emerging local writer, went to Nelson poet Jane Byers. Carver was a key member of the Nelson and District Arts Council (NDAC), and the award is a partnership between NDAC and the KLC, and the winner was chosen with support of the Kootenay Library Federation.

There was also a reading by Fernie author Angie Abdou and music by LVR jazz band Swing Theory.

The Kootenay Literary Competition Anthology Refuge is available to order for distribution through Otter Books in Nelson or at for $7.




Nelson Poet Named Winner of Richard Carver Award

Text & Image courtesy of Sam Van Schie (Nelson Star)

It’s been a good month for Nelson poet Jane Byers — not only did she receive the Richard Carver award at the Kootenay Literary Competition gala on March 14, but seven days prior to that her first book of poetry was published by Caitlin Press.

The 46-year-old has had many of her individual poems published in Canadian anthologies and magazines. She’s a three time winner of the Nelson and District Poetry Competition and can regularly be seen reading her work at local literary events. But after her accomplishments these past weeks she tells the Nelson Star, “maybe I can finally start calling myself a writer — I’m not sure.”

Image courtesy of Sam Van Schie (Nelson Star)

Image courtesy of Sam Van Schie (Nelson Star)

But the judges from the Kootenay Library Federation, who selected her for the Richard Carver award, wouldn’t hesitate to give her that title. The award, now in its second year, recognizes an emerging Kootenay writer and includes a $400 prize from the Nelson and District Arts Council, which Carver was president of when he died suddenly in 2009.

“It’s really a vote of confidence to get the award,” Byers says, recalling how she often used to seeCarver at literary events. “It’s amazing to see that his family is carrying on his legacy of supporting local writers.”

Byers first started writing poetry in high school, then gave it up while she was working on a science degree at university. She returned to it as an adult, after taking a continuing education course with a poet in Toronto, where she lived for 14 years before moving to Nelson in 2006.

Byers says since settling here she’s received a great deal of support from the many experienced writers in the community. In particular, she credits Susan Andrews Grace for helping her organize her poems into a cohesive collection that would appeal to a publisher.

Her book, Steeling Effects, includes some 65 poems she wrote over the course of the past decade. A theme running through the collection is that of human resilience, examined through the context of raising children, lesbian and gay issues, sexism, local geography and health and safety in the workplace.

“Why do some of us turn out to roll with the punches and some of us not so much?”  Byers asks. “I’ve explored that through some questions of my own life. With my own almost dying at birth and some traumatic events I lived through, how is it that I’m all right?”

With her book now on display locally at Otters Books, Byers says she’s feeling a mix of accomplishment and dread. The latter because, “There’s some pretty personal stuff in there that people will probably want to ask me about when they see me on the street.”

Still it’s a milestone for her and one she hopes to repeat soon. Byers says she’s already well into her second manuscript, which she’s been writing mostly between the hours of 5 and 6:30 a.m. while her wife, Amy Bohigian, and their six-year-old twin children are sleeping.

“Now that I’ve had one book published, it feels much more possible to think about a second one,” she says.

There will be a book launch for Steeling Effects at the Nelson Library on April 17 at 7 p.m.

2013 KLC Anthology ‘REFUGE’ Now Available

The Kootenay Literary Competition is proud to announce that its 2013 Anthology, REFUGE, is now available for purchase. CLICK HERE for ordering details.


KLC Gala Announced

The Kootenay Literary Competition Gala will be held on Friday, March 14, 2014 at the Prestige Lakeside Resort in Nelson. Doors open at 6:30 with the event getting underway at 7:00. There will be a 15 minute intermission where light refreshments will also be served. The evening will wrap up by 9:00. Winners in all categories will be announced and each first place winner will read briefly from their nominated work. Kootenay writer, Angie Abdou, will be our guest speaker, and the now annual, Carver Award, will be presented to an emerging Kootenay writer.

The winners from each of the categories will be published in the Refuge 2014 anthology which will be available for sale for $7.00.

A suggested donation for the evening is $5.00 per person.

The Richard Carver Award: A Brief History


Rossland’s Darcee O’Hearn 2013 recipient of Richard Carver Award (photo Melissa Welsh)

Richard Carver moved to Nelson from Ottawa where he had worked for The Ottawa Citizen and after that had a distinguished career with the National Library for twenty years. After moving to Nelson in 2001, he found a community where he could explore his own passions of writing and painting while serving as a cultural volunteer and support of many young artists in the community. Carver died suddenly in 2009.

The Kootenay Literary Competition is proud to honour Carver’s contributions to the Kootenay arts scene as it recognizes an emerging writer–one who has self-published one to two books (or through a small publisher)–with the Richard Carver Award. The recipient must be a Kootenay resident and the published work can be of any genre. Last year’s recipient at the Kootenay Literary Society Gala was Darcee O’Hearn.

The 2014 recipient will be announced at the March 14, 2014 Awards Gala. Details on the event to follow.

KLC Names Its Youth Writer-In-Residence

The KLC is proud to announce that local writer, Julia Caceras Booth, will be the youth Writer In Residence at L.V. Rogers Secondary, Trafalgar Middle School, and Mount Sentinel Secondary in early Spring 2014. Booth will be working with the youth at these schools over an eight week period as part of the KLC youth outreach program aimed at getting more youth involved in writing. The program is sponsored by the Kootenay Writer’s Program with funding from a grant courtesy of the Columbia Basin Trust. For more details please check out the Nelson Daily.

Julia Caceras Booth

Julia Caceras Booth

KLC Gets Local Ink

This week, The Kootenay Literary Competition announced its judges for the 2013 contest in the December 20th eEdition of the Nelson Star’s [Vurb] entertainment weekly. For more details, please see our November 28th announcement, too!

Meet The Judges For 2014 KLC

The 2014 KLC organizing committee has named its judges for the 2014 contest!


Susan Andrews Grace

Susan Andrews Grace

Susan Andrews Grace is the author of five books of poetry, the most recent of which is Philosopher at the Skin Edge of Being released by Signature Editions, spring of 2013. Her poems have been published in literary periodicals in Canada, US, England, and India. She holds a BA (Philosophy) and an MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) and has taught creative writing most recently at Oxygen Art Centre in Nelson.  She also maintains a visual art practice and Underwritten a solo exhibition of her art was shown at Touchstones (Nelson Museum of Art and History) earlier this fall.

SIOUX BROWNING (Adult Fiction)

Sioux Browning

Sioux Browning

Sioux Browning is an East-Kootenay based writer and teacher. Her screenwriting work has appeared on a number of Canadian networks and her poetry has been published in many literary magazines and anthologies, most recently the anthology Desperately Seeking Susans from Oolichan Books. She is a professor in UBC’s online Masters program in Creative Writing.

TARA CUNNINGHAM (Adult Non-Fiction)

Tara Cunningham

Tara Cunningham

Tara Cunningham has been a freelance editor for a decade. She is the senior editor of Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine and associate editor of Coast Mountain Culture Magazine, awarded “BC’s Magazine of the Year” and Western Canada’s “Best New Magazine” respectively at the 2013 Western Magazine Awards. She lives in Nelson, British Columbia.


Cyndi Sand-Eveland

Cyndi Sand-Eveland

Cyndi Sand-Eveland is the author of two books for young people: Dear Toni and A Tinfoil Sky. Her books have been nominated for numerous awards. Dear Toni won the Silver Birch Express and was included in the Banks Street College of Educations Best Books of the Year. Most recently, A Tinfoil Sky was nominated for The Canadian Library Children’s Book of the Year and the Ruth and Sylvia Swartz Children’s book of the Year. A Tinfoil Sky received an honour book selection for both awards. A Tinfoil Sky is currently a nominee for the BC Chocolate Lily Award and the Saskatchewan Diamond Willow Award.

Bill Metcalfe

Bill Metcalfe

Bill Metcalfe is a Nelson freelance writer and broadcaster who in the past year has written for The Vancouver Sun, CBC Radio, The Tyee, The Vancouver Observer, Kootenay Mountain Culture, and the Nelson Daily.

**A HUGE THANK YOU to these fine literary supporters for their time, energy, and support!