7000 College Way
Vernon, BC, V1B 2N5

General Inquiries:

Editor in Chief:

Kevin McPherson

WIR Coordinator:

Kerry Gibert


Jason Dewinetz


Joan Smeyers

John Lent

2019 Call for Entries to the John Lent Poetry/Prose Award

Kalamalka Press seeks chapbook-length collections of poetry, short fiction or hybrids thereof for its eighth annual John Lent Poetry/Prose Award! Entrants should be in the early stages their writing careers, having not published more than two full-length books. The winning work will be published in a limited edition by Kalamalka Press, designed by Jason Dewinetz and printed by Writing & Publishing students in The Bunker, Okanagan College's Letterpress Print Shop.


  • Please double-spaced your manuscript in a legible 12-point font to a maximum of 12 single-sided pages (that is, 12 pages of poems, not including title page, etc.).
  • Include your name, address, and email on a cover page; your name should not appear within the ms.
  • Excerpts from the manuscript may be previously published in journals and anthologies, but should not yet have appeared in a trade collection. 
  • The competition is open to all forms of poetry and prose, or any combination of the two. Please read some work by past winners to get a sense of the judges’ judgments. 
  • Manuscripts should be submitted on plain 8.5” × 11” paper, fastened either with a staple or paperclip, and will be recycled unless accompanied by a return self-addressed stamped envelope.


Entry Fee

$20 for each submission. Every entry receives a randomly-selected backlisted Kalamalka Press title. Writers may enter as many times as they wish. Please make cheques out to the Okanagan College Foundation.



The winner receives $500.00 and ten percent of the book’s print-run.



  • Entries must be postmarked on or before June 15th, 2019.
  • The winner will be announced by July 31st, 2019 and published April 2020.



Send submissions to

The John Lent Poetry Prose Award
c/o Kerry Gilbert
Okanagan College
7000 College Way
Vernon, BC   V1B 2N5

Direct queries to the contest coordinator, Kerry Gilbert:


OOMPWAWA! Angeline Schellenberg’s “Dented Tubas” Wins the 2018 John Lent Poetry/Prose Chapbook Award!

Angeline Schellenberg

Kalamalka Press is absolutely tootled to announce that Angeline Schellenberg has won the 2018 John Lent Poetry/Prose Award with her poetry manuscript, Dented Tubas.

Angeline Schellenberg is no stranger to literary accolades. Her first book-length poetry collection, Tell Them It Was Mozart, published by the veritable Brick Books in 2016, won the Lansdowne Prize for Poetry, the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book, and the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer. Her writing has also appeared in numerous magazines, journals, and websites across Canada, and has been shortlisted for Arc Poetry Magazine’s “Poem of the Year”. 

The submission process for this year’s award evolved from previous years: the entry fee was doubled from $10 to $20 per manuscript and every submission received a copy of a previously published Kalamalka Press title. While the new process resulted in fewer overall submissions, according to Kevin McPherson, the press’s managing editor and juror, the quality of work was as sundry and robust as ever. 

“The writing in Dented Tubas is well-seasoned: it’s language and imagery offer a weathered kind of maturity, scrubby and honest, but with dashes of unique zest and garnishes of beauty rawness,” says McPherson. “These poems are simply well-crafted life-apertures.”

Since 1986, Kalamalka Press has published anthologies; full-length works of poetry, fiction, and literary criticism; and, most recently, hand-bound letterpress chapbooks. The press’s backlist includes such distinguished Canadian authors as Robert Kroestch, Karen Connelly, Nancy Holmes, and Dennis Cooley.

Copies of Susan Buis’s Sugar for Shock, last year’s JLPPA winner, are now available for purchase on the Kalamalka Press here

Photo credit: Anthony Mark Schellenberg (


2017 John Lent Chapbook Award

Kalamalka Press is exhilarated to announce that Susan Buis has won the sixth annual John Lent Poetry/Prose Award for her manuscript, Sugar for Shock.

Buis receives the $500 honorarium, and her manuscript will be published as a limited-edition handmade chapbook in the spring of 2018. Her work was selected from a total of 31 manuscripts entered into this year’s competition, which was judged by Okanagan College professors Jake Kennedy and Kevin McPherson, as well as a special guest juror, the award’s namesake, John Lent.

“The poems in Sugar for Shock stood out from the other submissions for their generous confidence and gentle mystery,” says Kevin McPherson, who is also the managing editor of Kalamalka Press. “Their energy oscillates between reverberation and vision, so that in one moment a poem will mesmerize you with its melody, while in the next it will hypnotize you with a precise and profound image. This is a corpus that dares its reader to either close it or keep reading—whichever you choose, expect its words to call you back frequently and vehemently.”

Nestled on an acreage near Kamloops, where she teaches at Thompson Rivers University, Susan Buis holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Cal State Long Beach and a BFA in visual art. Her writing has appeared in numerous journals from across Canada, including CV2, Event, and The Fiddlehead. In 2013, she won the Malahat Review's Open Season Award for Creative Nonfiction.

This year’s pair of honourable mentions go to Bren Simmers for her poetry manuscript entitled Cheap Enough to Burn and to Jeremy Stewart for his suite of poems and illustrations called immemoriam

Since 1986, Kalamalka Press has published books of poetry, fiction, and literary criticism, while, more recently, it has focused on limited-edition hand-bound letterpressed chapbooks. The backlist of titles includes works by such distinguished Canadian authors as Robert Kroestch, Karen Connelly, Nancy Holmes, and Dennis Cooley.



The 2016 John Lent Poetry-Prose Award

Kalamalka Press is pleased to announce that the 2016 John Lent Poetry-Prose Award has gone to Lindsay Cahill for her fiction manuscript titled The Movement of the Triangle.

Lindsay Cahill

A Toronto-based writer, zine-maker, and artist punk, Cahill graduated from the English program at Brock University in St. Catherine’s. Her writing has been anthologized in Why Poetry Sucks, and, in 2014, she curated Homer’s Odyssey, an exhibition of Simpson’s inspired artworks.

The submissions for this year’s award continued to shove forward an amazing diversity of styles, subjects, and craft. Manuscripts were vetted by Okanagan College professors and poet-types Jake Kennedy and Kevin McPherson (eckhoff).

“The Movement of the Triangle is unlike anything I’ve read in a very long time, if ever,” says Kevin McPherson, who is also the managing editor of Kalamalka Press. “It’s a wild specimen of speculative fiction, re/minding my readerself of some vision projected onto the page by Kurt Vonnegut or Gail Scott. Its movement playfully undermines genre, pops culture, and dreams a future in which I hope to one day awake!”

Since 1986, Kalamalka Press has published anthologies; full-length works of poetry, fiction, and literary criticism; and, most recently, hand-bound chapbooks. The press backlist includes such distinguished Canadian authors as Robert Kroestch, Karen Connelly, Nancy Holmes, and Dennis Cooley.

Copies of last year’s JLPPA winner, Bloom & Martyr, by Helen Hajnoczky, are still available for purchase here.



2015 John Lent Poetry-Prose Award

Kalamalka Press merrily announces that the fourth annual John Lent Poetry-Prose Award goes to Montreal-based writer Helen Hajnoczky.

Nicholas Papaxanthos

Her chapbook, Bloom and Martyr, was selected from nearly 40 manuscripts.

“The quality of submissions was stupidly high again this year. It was such a privilege to read them all and such torment to have to choose only one for the crown,” notes Kevin McPherson, managing editor of Kalamalka Press and English professor at Okanagan College. “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 with 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 the illustrious Coach House Books.

“I'm so honoured that my work was chosen!” writes 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.”

The award continues to be judged by the writerly triad, Laisha Rosnau, kevin mcpherson eckhoff, and Jake Kennedy, who recently 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.

Bloom and Martyr is now available to purchase directly from Kalamalka Press.



2014 John Lent Poetry-Prose Award

Montreal poet wins Kalamalka Press’s
third annual chapbook award...

Nicholas Papaxanthos

Kalamalka Press is ecstatic in the attic to announce that the third annual John Lent Poetry Prose Award goes to Montreal-based writer Nicholas Papaxanthos.

His work, Wearing Your Pants, was selected from over fifty manuscripts.

“We received the most submissions ever for this year’s award, which is a great sign that news of the award is viraling across the country, but it was also dang tough to narrow down so many supercharged contenders!” says Kevin McPherson, managing editor of Kalamalka Press.

For the past three years, the award’s three judges have been Kevin McPherson, Jake Kennedy, and Laisha Rosnau, who just finished touring with her latest poetry collection, Pluck.

“It’s a ludicrous honour to be able to consider so many beauty-filled poems and deliberate with such admirable peers. The winning manuscript is also such a playful, surreal wonder it puts a lot of joy in my chest thumper!” says Jake Kennedy.

The judges chose two additional standout manuscripts as honorable mentions: Sarah Burgoyne for her Saint Friend, and Alessandro Porco for his Biceps the Size of Tort Law in Singapore: The Minutes (XXV-XXX).

Papaxanthos has one chapbook published with Proper Tales Press, while his writing appears in numerous anthologies and journals, including Lake Effect 5, This Magazine, and Lemonhound. Of winning the award, he writes “What can I say? Such a thrill that the judges enjoyed my poetry.” And of previous winners and the award’s namesake, “I couldn’t have hoped for better company!”

Papaxanthos will receive an honorarium of $500, while his work will be printed as a letterpress chapbook designed by English professor and award-winning bookmaker, Jason Dewinetz, and made by students in Okanagan College’s Writing and Publishing Diploma program in the spring of 2015.

A handful of copies of last year’s winner, Nikki Sheppy’s Grrrrlhood: a ludic suite, as well as Okanagan College’s 3-Hour Short Story winner, Mary Bevan’s The Use in Usefulness, are still available for purchase through the press’s website,

For more information, please contact:
Kevin McPherson Department of English, Okanagan College



2013 John Lent Poetry-Prose Award

Nikki Sheppy

Kalamalka Press is heart-thrilled to announce that the second annual John Lent Poetry-Prose Award goes to Calgary writer Nikki Sheppy.

Her work, Grrrlhood: a ludic suite, was selected from nearly forty manuscripts.

“It was a wonderful and challenging process this time ’round,” says 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 go 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,” note the judges, three local writers and teachers, Laisha Rosnau, Jake Kennedy and Kevin McPherson.

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,” says Sheppy.

This will be her first published collection of poetry, which she finished while attending the Banff Centre Writing Studio.

The honourarium for the winner has increased this year from $100 to $500. The chapbook will be designed by English professor and award-winning bookmaker, Jason Dewinetz, and letterpress printed by students in Okanagan College’s Writing and Publishing Diploma program.

Sheppy is familiar with Dewinetz’s work as a bookmaker through Greenboathouse Press and confesses, “I love the tactility and attentive design of letterpress books, which continue to seduce readers into an engagement with the materiality of literature.”

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



2012 John Lent Poetry-Prose Award

Ariel Gordon

The inaugural winner of the John Lent Poetry-Prose award, How to Make a Collage, came to us from Winnipeg-based poet Ariel Gordon.

“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.

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.”

With the award in hand, Gordon was even more thrilled to learn that the chapbook – her fourth – would 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 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.

A total of thirty-six manuscripts found their way into the competition. While the judges for the 2012 award, Laisha Rosnau, Jake Kennedy and kevin mcpherson eckhoff, were exhilarated by the range of subjects and aesthetic risks undertaken by most of the entries, they agreed that the winning selection fearlessly wrestled the complexities of human relationships using emotionally dynamic lines and metaphors. The judges also noted two strong honourable mentions: Documenting in the Brink by Kathleen Brown and Osteogenesis by Claire Caldwell, both of which demonstrated haunting/halting imagery and a profound attention to sound.


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