Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Garth Martens Wins RBC Bronwen Wallace Award

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Garth Martens

In a ceremony at the Royal Conservatory of Music last night, Victoria, BC poet Garth Martens was named the winner of the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. Congratulations Garth!

From The Writers' Trust of Canada:

The Writers' Trust of Canada announced that Garth Martens of Victoria is the winner of the $5,000 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. The literary prize has a legacy of discovering young writers with great potential.

Alternating each year between short fiction and poetry, the award is given to a writer under the age of thirty-five who is unpublished in book form and without a book contract. The RBC Foundation supports the prize through the RBC Emerging Artists Project, which invests in young artists and helps them build their professional careers in the arts.

Garth Martens won the award for "Inheritance and Other Poems," a selection from his work-in-progress manuscript entitled The Motive of Machines. Martens is a 28-year-old writer whose literary work has appeared in The Fiddlehead, Grain, Island Writer, and the anthology Leonard Cohen: You're Our Man. He currently serves on the editorial board for The Malahat Review and works on a construction site in Kelowna, BC. His experience with machinery features prominently in his poetry.

The Writers' Trust received 120 submissions from young poets from across Canada. A jury composed of poets Kate Braid, Gail Harris, and Robert Priest selected the winner and two runners-up. The jurors read "blind" submissions, meaning that all identifying information was removed before the entries were passed along for consideration. Of Martens' work, they said:

The curtain is raised on blue collar work. Here's a poet of sweat and ambition and all the sensory detail and wild character that builds a world. Heroic, this writer is "smoother than concrete."

Two finalists each received $1,000: Raoul Fernandes, a 32-year-old from Vancouver, was nominated for his collection "By Way of Explanation and Other Poems;" and Anne-Marie Turza, a 34-year-old from Victoria, was a finalist for "The Quiet iii."

A booklet featuring the poetry of the three finalists was distributed at the award ceremony and also sent to influential figures in the Canadian publishing industry. To receive a digital or hard copy, please contact the Writers' Trust at or visit

The prize was presented at the Royal Conservatory of Music at an event hosted by the 2002 award recipient Alison Pick. Pick, the author of two poetry collections and two novels, most recently the acclaimed Far to Go, said "winning the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award remains the most exciting thing to have happened to me as a writer."

"Like Alison, many writers recognized by this award have gone on to secure book contracts and develop distinguished literary careers," said Peter Kahnert, chair of the Writers' Trust of Canada Board of Directors. "We are confident this year's crop of finalists will find similar success and look forward to watching their careers blossom."

"The RBC Foundation is proud to celebrate young writers though this award," said Shari Austin, vice president, corporate citizenship and executive director of the RBC Foundation. "Young artists in all fields, whether literature, theatre, music, film, design, or dance, need support to build professional careers. The RBC Emerging Artists Project helps by recognizing exceptional talent and providing financial and psychological encouragement."

Bronwen Wallace was a mentor to many young writers and a creative writing teacher at St. Lawrence College and Queen's University. She wrote four books of poetry and a collection of short stories before her death at age forty-four. Her close friend Carolyn Smart founded this award in her honour in 1994. Past winners include Michael Crummey, Alissa York, and, most recently, Kilby Smith-McGregor.

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