The Shevchenko Foundation is pleased to announce that early-career playwright, theatre artist, and writer Camille Pavlenko is the winner of the 2024 Emerging Writers Short Prose Competition for her story The Cure for Breathlessness.
Camille Pavlenko’s plays for children, adults, and radio have been produced by professional companies across her home province of Alberta, with past favourites including Vasilisa & Baba Yaga (Alberta Musical Theatre Company), The Hitchhiker (Vertigo Theatre), and real boi: The Tragedie of Pinocchio in Five Comedic Acts (Calgary Young Peoples’ Theatre). Currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia, Camille is also the Artistic Associate at Verb Theatre in Calgary.
The winning entry takes us on an emotional journey with a young Ukrainian Canadian girl who suffers from two maladies that literally and figuratively leave her breathless. The attempts by her family to “cure” her ailments reveal the profound power of culture in shaping our values and beliefs, and subsequently our actions.
This year’s jury consisted of author and KOBZAR Book Award finalist Elizabeth Bachinsky, editor Ella Soper, and award-winning educator and researcher Katherine Larson.
“The Cure for Breathlessness is artful, its cultural touchstones intrinsic. Here, Camille Pavlenko masterfully invokes memorable details about the old world and how these come to bear on the tragic life of one Ukrainian-Canadian girl. It is a devastating story. I loved it.” – Elizabeth Bachinsky
“A wonderfully tragicomic folktale about the clash between old- and new-world sensibilities, and a community’s attempts to “heal” a hapless patient with an incalcitrant malady. The voice is mature, deft, and delightful. There is a wonderful easter egg at the heart of this story that promises to knock the wind out of you.” – Ella Soper
“This story is beautifully crafted and was a joy to read. Breathlessness takes on a poignant constellation of meaning, powerfully drawing the reader into the physical and emotional intricacies of the narrator’s world. An artful illumination of the Ukrainian-Canadian experience from a mature and distinctive voice.” – Katherine Larson
Camille Pavlenko was thrilled to have her entry chosen as winner of the 2024 Shevchenko Foundation Emerging Writers Short Prose Competition. “Winning TSF’s Short Prose Prize is an accomplishment that holds so much meaning for me. Not only does it mark the first time one of my stories has won a competition, it also marks the very first time I have ever been paid as a writer of fiction. This is an incredible milestone to have the privilege of achieving, and the prize amount will go a long way in finding a publication home for my writing as well as funding my studies as a graduate student of Creative Writing,” Pavlenko shared.
“For this also to be a prize offered by an organization so genuinely devoted to supporting the Ukrainian-Canadian community is nothing short of an honour,” she added. “If my Baba–who had a portrait of Taras Shevchenko displayed prominently in her dining room my entire life–was still with us, I know she would be so very proud.”
The adjudicators also acknowledged one semi-finalist – Cathy Burrell for Cathy Burell is Really Ukrainian. Cathy is an adult educator, writer and consultant based in Kelowna, BC, who writes about her family, and her experience as a woman in business. The jurors felt Cathy’s story offered a fresh and new take on Ukrainian Canadian issues of identity; they loved the narrative voice and some of the very rich imagery of the story.
The $2,500 prize is awarded annually by the Shevchenko Foundation to a Canadian writer for the best piece of unpublished prose of up to 3,000 words in the English language offering a glimpse into the Ukrainian Canadian experience. The prize includes $1,000 toward publication of the winning entry in a Canadian newspaper, magazine, or by a recognized digital distributor.
Committed to encouraging and promoting new authors, the Shevchenko Foundation 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 KOBZARTM Book Award (www.kobzarbookaward.com).
About the Emerging Writers Short Prose Competition: