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Daily Dose — Ellen Burt Wins Richard Carver Award for Emerging Writers

Ari Lord
By Ari Lord
September 28th, 2023

Ellen Burt is honoured with the 2023 Richard Carver Award for Emerging Writers. Burt has published two memoirs; her third is out in the next few months.

The Carver Award recognizes an emerging writer who has published one or two books. The recipient must be a West Kootenay resident, and the published work can be of any genre.

Burt was shocked and pleased to hear of her win.

“I was overwhelmed because I was slated to MC the Nelson Poetry Slam, so I had a lot of things on my plate all at once. I’m incredulous because I’ve been nominated for this award four years in a row. I didn’t think this was the time I would win it.”

Burt’s writing journey started in childhood.

“I realized I was a writer when I was a child. I started writing. I quit through my adult years because I had kids and lived a very remote, physically demanding lifestyle. Then, when I got older and was getting ready to retire, I took it up. I’m 75 years old. I started doing it more seriously in my 50s, which was long ago.”

Burt lives in Nelson after many years of living off the beaten track.

“I spent most of my life in Argenta/Johnsons landing at the lake. Because of aging, it just got too much for me. So, I moved into Nelson,” says Burt.

Burt says writing a book takes a lot of patience, especially in publishing.

“It takes me a long time to write a book. Longer than most people. Each one takes between five and seven years. I have a book ready to come out soon. Now I am self-publishing again.”

Burt’s books include When the Path is Not a Straight Line (Maa Press 2013) and What Forever Feels Like, (Ellen Burt, 2018).

Each of Burt’s memoirs varies thematically, she explains.

“I have a strong connection to nature, and I’ve lived a very remote life in the woods, so that’s the overarching thing about my writing.”

Burt’s third book, An Impossible Fidelity: My Quaker childhood, is her most personal book yet and first childhood memoir of growing up in a Quaker family in Oregon, USA. Burt moved to Johnsons landing at age 18.

“It’s been very interesting. Before, I wrote books of local interest. This one takes place in Oregon. I didn’t know what public interest there would be for it. But I was also very reluctant to write about my childhood for a long time because it’s hard to go back to in some ways,” says Burt.

Burt was partially awarded for her community contribution to the local writing community.

“I’m on the organizing committee for the Nelson Poetry Slam, and it takes a lot of my public energy. The spoken word part of what I do has been really important. It stretches my naturally reclusive personality in a way that gives me courage. I’m grateful to the Nelson poetry slam and all the people that have supported me in that. And the learning process,” she says.

Burt says her writers’ group greatly supports her writing.

“It’s a good thing to have a writing group. We critique each other’s writing, but we also write together. It’s very supportive, and I recommend having a supportive writer’s group. We’ve been meeting for a long time.”

For now, Burt is basking in her award win and isn’t starting on book number four just yet.

“I’m not thinking beyond number three,” she says. “I’ll be glad to start on the next step of the journey with this book. I won some prize money for the Richard Carver Award. I hope to use that money for a book launch party. I like giving back to the writing community and my friends.”

Richard Carver was a lover of the arts and the Kootenays, and he was invested in the community.

He was a mover and shaker on the board of the Nelson and District Arts Council, the primary sponsor of this award named in his honour.

His daughter Jocelyn Carver, an arts lover herself, has continued the family’s generous support of this award.

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