Morty Mint (left) and Ernest Hekkanen are being honoured for their substantial contributions to the Kootenay Literary scene. Photo: Anne Degrace

Two local literary veterans to be honoured

Morty Mint and Ernest Hekkanen to receive awards

The Richard Carver Award, which traditionally honours emerging Kootenay writers, is changing in 2019 to recognize emerging artists in all disciplines. As this is the last year that the award will be dedicated solely to the literary arts, the 2018 award will honour two people who have made significant contributions to the literary scene.

The nominating committee is delighted to select Ernest Hekkanen, literary publisher, and Morty Mint, literary agent, as recipients of the 2018 Richard Carver Award. The award will be presented at the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival’s 100-Mile Opening Gala on Friday, July 13, 7:30 p.m., at the Hume Hotel.

Hekkanen served as founder and Editor-in-Chief of The New Orphic Review for 20 years before the literary journal’s retirement in 2018. He is co-curator of the home-based New Orphic Gallery, a Literary Landmark in Alan Twigg’s province-wide literary mapping project. Hekkanen, who has published 47 books, is also a poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, playwright, publisher, printmaker and painter. He is listed in the Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada, and Contemporary Authors (in the U.S.)

Upon hearing the news, “I felt quite thrilled,” said Hekkanen, who noted that one of Richard Carver’s paintings was featured on a cover of the New Orphic Review. As for acceptance, “it is difficult for an old man of 71 to emerge from his chrysalis without damaging a few body parts,” he said. “All joking aside, I’m very honoured to be a co-awardee.”

Morty Mint has 52 years of experience in publishing, including positions as president of Penguin Canada and Penguin U.S.A. As Mint Publishers, he distributed The Guinness Book of World Records across North America and Ripley’s Believe it or Not worldwide. In 2004 the Nelson-based Mint Literary Agency was formed, representing local writers including Anne DeGrace, Cyndi Sand-Eveland, Jennifer Craig, Vivien Bowers, Antonia Banyard, Judy Toews, Holley Rubinsky, and Donna Macdonald. Mint has served on Nelson’s Cultural Development Committee and as a Director of the Kootenay Writers Society.

“When I first moved to the Kootenays 12 years ago, I was excited to discover the vibrancy of its literary community. It was fulfilling for me to put to use my years of experience in the publishing business in helping its writers find homes with publishers,” said Mint. “This is a lovely surprise and I am truly honoured.”

Since 2013 the Richard Carver Award, created by the Kootenay Writers Society and the Nelson and District Arts Council, has honoured emerging writers. Since 2015, the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival has been a partner with NDAC in presenting the award, which is named for the late Richard Carver, a Nelson resident who embraced the arts and the artistic process with passion and enthusiasm.

Richard Carver’s daughter, Jocelyn Carver, will present the award. “My father never ceased to be amazed by the vibrancy of the arts in Nelson and was inspired by the commitment and creativity of both Ernest and Morty,” she said. “These award recipients show us all how to build a true arts community, each in their own way. Congratulations to them both!”

Elephant Mountain Literary Festival’s 100-Mile-Opening Gala is a fitting backdrop for the award presentation, as it features local writers Art Joyce, Rayya Liebich, and Jordan Mounteer. The writers and the Carver Award recipients are paired with Nelson Brewing Company beers for a fun evening of literary appreciation and much merriment. Tickets are available at www.emlfestival.com.

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