Winnipeg, January 24, 2023 – The Shevchenko Foundation is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2023 Emerging Writers Short Prose Competition is Melissa Morelli Lacroix for her story titled Ivan and Irene.
Melissa Morelli Lacroix is a Saskatchewan-born writer, teacher, and editor who lives and works in Edmonton, Alberta. Her first book, a collection of poetry entitled A Most Beautiful Deception, was published by the University of Alberta Press in 2014.
This winning entry is from a collection of short stories about Ukrainian Canadian Ivan Burtney’s adventures alone in his retirement residence during the Covid-19 restrictions of 2020. Inspired by Melissa’s grandparents, Ivan’s name is a nod to the piano collection Adventures of Ivan by Aram Khachaturian and an homage to family friend Olga Burtney-Kondra, who epitomized the generation of Ukrainian Canadians who came of age in Saskatchewan during World War II.
This year’s jury consisted of award-winning author and 2022-23 Writer in Residence at Athabasca University Myrna Kostash; author, editor, and winner of the 2021 Emerging Writers Short Prose Competition Adrian Lysenko; and producer, librettist/writer, and First Vice President of the Shevchenko Foundation Gordon Gordey.
“Enriched with observations and of-the-moment context – residential lockdown during Covid-19 – Ivan’s adventure is propelled by a strong and compelling internal voice that is utterly sympathetic and engaging, and creates a world uniquely Ivan’s. A pleasure to read.”
– Myrna Kostash
“Through detailed prose and emotional depth, the memories and grief of the 97-year-old protagonist in Ivan and Irene resonate with the reader in this moving story.”
– Adrian Lysenko
“From the opening we are immediately immersed into Ivan’s 97 years of survival, love, and a life defined by the challenges and beauty of Saskatchewan’s immense landscape. LaCroix then plunges us into Ivan’s new world defined by the confines of Riverrun Retirement home, now further narrowed by stifling individual isolation requirements of COVID protocols. What follows is a heartwarming engagement of the reader with Ivan’s lighthouse beacon – the heartwarming reconstructed refuge of memories of his departed love – Irene.”
– Gordon Gordey
Melissa Morelli Lacroix was honoured to have her entry chosen as winner of the 2023 Shevchenko Foundation Emerging Writers Short Prose Competition. “I am humbled by the adjudicators’ comments on my piece and by their decision,” wrote Melissa. “The prize money and the extra $1000 will be very helpful to me as I continue to work on and pursue publication of my collection of Ivan stories titled Adventures of Ivan.”
The adjudicators also acknowledged one semi-finalist – In My DNA by Linda Mikolayenko (Saskatchewan). In her story, Linda contemplates the role one’s heritage plays in shaping character while offering opportunities for personal exploration and growth.
The $1,500 prize is awarded annually by the Shevchenko Foundation to a Canadian writer for the best piece of unpublished prose of up to 1,500 words in the English language offering a glimpse into the Ukrainian Canadian experience. The winning writer is also awarded $1,000 toward publication of the winning entry in a Canadian newspaper, magazine, or by a recognized digital distributor.
The Shevchenko Foundation is a national, chartered philanthropic institution dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and development of the Ukrainian Canadian cultural heritage. Committed to encouraging and promoting new authors, the Emerging Writers Short Prose Competition sets the groundwork for new writers to explore the short prose form and aspire to submit an entry to the Kobzar Book Award (www.kobzarbookaward.com).