2021 Fred Kerner Book Award Winner



Joanna Lilley, Whitehorse, YT


(Turnstone Press)


Joanna Lilley’s fifth book and third poetry collection, Endlings, is all about extinct animals and was published by Turnstone Press in 2020. She’s also the author of a novel, Worry Stones (Ronsdale Press), which was longlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award, and a short story collection, The Birthday Books (Hagios Press). Joanna’s other poetry collections are If There Were Roads (Turnstone Press), and The Fleece Era (Brick Books) which was nominated for the Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry. Joanna has an MLitt degree in creative writing from the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde and is a Humber School for Writers graduate. Born in the south of England, Joanna lived in Wales and Scotland before moving to Canada. She now lives in Whitehorse, Yukon, where she’s on the board of Yukon Words and is grateful to reside on the Traditional Territories of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council.


Judges’ Comments:

In Endlings, Joanna Lilley’s rich collection of lyrical and devastating poems, voice is given to the final moments of animal extinction. This book-length elegy to the planet’s lost species explores the ruinous impact humanity has had on the natural world while still managing to create wonder and hope.

This beautifully crafted collection of poetry is a remarkable yet sad tribute to all the species and sub-species we have lost. Joanna Lilley has sent us a new wake-up call – a cri de coeur that she calls Endlings.


Congratulations to the five other finalists of the Fred Kerner Book Award:


Elke Babicki, West Vancouver, BC
Identity: From Holocaust to Home
(The History Collectives)


Elke Babicki M.Ed., R.C.C., has been a consultant to corporations and a clinical counsellor in private practice in Toronto and Vancouver, Canada, for more than thirty years. She has led workshops and sessions in Europe and Canada to help thousands of people claim more power in their lives. Elke was recognized in 2011 with the Women of Worth Leader of the Year Award for her work in supporting and inspiring women across the globe. She lives with her husband, Matt, an engineer and inventor, by the ocean in West Vancouver, British Columbia. Identity was published in Germany as Uebern Ozean in November 2017 with great success.



Judges’ Comments:
“Identity: From Holocaust to Home is a moving memoir of survival and identity. A daughter recalls her Catholic-Jewish family’s post-war journey of resilience and determination to move beyond the traumatizing experiences of life in Nazi Germany.”

“Library shelf after library shelf of books have been written about the holocaust. What more, you might ask, is there left to tell? Much more, it seems. Elke Babicki’s memoir adds yet another dimension to that litany of horror. Written with sensitivity and undeniable courage, Identity: From Holocaust to Home deserves a place among the best on those shelves.”


Morgan Christie, Brampton, ON
These Bodies (Tolsun Books)


Morgan Christie’s work has recently appeared in Room, Aethlon, Hawai’i Review, Little Patuxent Review, the Coil, Sport Literature Association, as well as others, and has been longlisted for the Commonwealth prize, nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and a Best of the Net. Her poetry chapbook, Variations on a Lobster’s Tale, was the winner of the 2017 Alexander Posey Chapbook Prize (University of Central Oklahoma Press), and her second poetry chapbook, Sterling, was released by CW Books. Her first full-length short story manuscript ‘These Bodies’ was published by Tolsun Books and was featured in various outlets including Poets&Writers, Buzzfeed, Forword Reviews and others. Her most recent poetry chapbook, when they come, was released by Black Sunflowers Press (2021) and is featured in the Forward Arts Foundation’s National Poetry Day exhibit.



Judges’ Comments:

An inventive and immensely readable collection of short fiction, These Bodies explores the complex undercurrents of relationships. Interweaving fantastical elements with the quotidian, Morgan Christie’s stories explore the experiences of characters forced to live in the margins of society.

Excellent characterizations flow through this collection of twelve short stories. This is life viewed from many angles. Most readers will find something of themselves in at least one of these samples of the human journey.



Vanessa Farnsworth, Creston, BC
The Haweaters
(Signature Editions)


Vanessa Farnsworth is a science journalist and fiction writer based in the BC Interior. Her books include the memoir Rain on a Distant Roof: A Personal Journey Through Lyme Disease in Canada (Signature Editions, 2013), the short story collection The Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind (Thistledown Press, 2018) and the historical novel The Haweaters (Signature Editions, 2020). Her journalism has been published in many regional and national magazines and her short fiction has appeared in literary journals in Canada and the United States, including The Dalhousie Review, dANDelion, filling Station, The New Quarterly, PRECIPICe, Qwerty, and Reed Magazine. Her short story “Napoleon’s Eyes” was nominated for the Journey Prize.



Judges’ Comments:

A gripping tale of festering rivalries, innuendo, and scandal, The Haweaters fictionalizes the real-life double murders of Charles and William Bryan in 1877 on Manatoulin Island. The novel explores the vagaries of early settlement in an unforgiving landscape.

A little-known slice of 19th century Canadian history dished up as fiction with scandal, murder and mayhem on a rugged stretch of island off the northern shore of Lake Huron. Well crafted and a darned good read.



Lori Hahnel, Calgary, AB
(Enfield & Wizenty, an imprint of Great Plains Publications)


Lori Hahnel is the author of two novels, Love Minus Zero (Oberon 2008) and After You’ve Gone (Thistledown 2014); and two short story collections, Nothing Sacred (Thistledown 2009), and Vermin: Stories (Enfield & Wizenty 2020). Her work has aired on CBC Radio and has appeared in The Fiddlehead, Joyland, Prairie Fire, Room, The Antigonish Review, The Saturday Evening Post and many other publications in North America, Australia and the U.K. Lori teaches creative writing and was Author-in-Residence at Calgary Public Library in 2020.




Judges’ Comments:

Vermin is an eclectic collection of stories that travel through time and place to explore the lives of various women through themes of loss, longing and music. The stories set in both historical and contemporary periods demonstrate a breadth of skill that is a pleasure to encounter.

A score of short stories set in believable locales with real people at work, at play and in and out of love. From a restaurant in Tofino to a country music bar in Alberta; from an upturned canoe on a remote lake in Ontario to a jazz club in New York, each tale is a special entity.


Ed Seaward, Georgetown, ON
(The Porcupine’s Quill)


Ed Seaward completed his first novel, Son of Jack Nasty, in 2011 (as yet unpublished). Since then he has written a number of short stories and screenplays, including Mother Daughter Happiness, which was a screenplay finalist at the 2019 Pasadena International Film Festival. His novel, Fair, was published by The Porcupine’s Quill in 2020. After thirty years in the corporate world, he now spends his time cashing pension cheques, writing, and volunteering with Canadian Authors—Toronto. He and his wife Barb split their time living in Georgetown, Ontario and Santa Monica, California. Well, they did pre-Covid and plan to return once the world has this pandemic under control.



Judges’ Comments:
Ed Seaward’s lyrical and spare novel, Fair follows the story of a young homeless man in Los Angeles. Juxtaposing Paradise Lost with a life lost in Skid Row, Fair is a gritty, character-driven story.

Eyan lives in a world somewhere between Los Angeles’s skid row and Milton’s Paradise Lost. His is not a story any of us would wish to live, but Eyan’s life on the fringes of the law and close to destitution is a story that, while it is not fair, is impossible to ignore. A brilliant first novel.





The winner was announced at a virtual special Fred Kerner Book Award readings event preceding Canadian Authors’ annual general meeting on July 24, 2021.

The announcement was made by Diane Kerner, daughter of the late Fred Kerner.

Find out more about the Fred Kerner Book Award and how to submit an entry here.