Kobzar Literary Award
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  KOBZAR™ The Kobzar Literary Award - Shevchenko Foundation

Honorary Patrons

The Right Honourable
Adrienne Clarkson
The Honourable Senator
Raynell Andreychuk
Joy Kogawa
Nino Ricci

Advisors during Phase One:

Nik Burton
Coteau Books

Kitty Lewis
Brick Books

Jack Rabinovitch
Scotia Giller Prize

Antanas Sileika
Humber College School for Writers

Geoffrey Taylor
Harbourfront International Authors Festival

Nora Taylor
Charles Taylor Prize for Non Fiction
    The Kobzar Literary $25,000 Biennial Award recognizes outstanding contributions to Canadian literary arts by authors who develop a Ukrainian Canadian theme with literary merit in one of several genres: literary non-fiction, fiction, poetry, young readers' literature, plays, screenplays and musicals.

Maurice Mierau wins 2016 Kobzar prize for 'Detachment: An Adoption Memoir'


Adoption memoir wins $25,000 Kobzar Award for Ukrainian Canadian literature


March 2, 2016
Tickets on Sale Now! Call 416-233-9700
Kobzar 2016 Shortlisted Books' Descriptions

The Delusionist  The Delusionist
By Grant Buday

Born in Vancouver in 1945, seventeen-year-old Cyril Andrachuk has grown up in the shadow of the Holodomor, the famine Stalin inflicted on the Ukrainian people. His silent but loving father dies, and his mother and older brother draw closer. Emotionally inarticulate, they seem to deliberately exclude Cyril from their shared history of horror.  But Cyril has his art and loves Connie Chow, a vibrant and non-conforming schoolmate. 

Cyril begins to use his talent to come to terms with his family’s sufferings, drawing a series of Stalin portraits to use for his art school application. He also dreams of a life with Connie. Then Connie leaves to pursue acting in Hollywood and his mother discovers the Stalin drawings. She destroys them and Cyril, defeated, gives up art school and goes to work. 

But his need to express himself leads back to art. He takes night courses with a Hungarian refugee who encourages him and helps his talent evolve. His relationship with his brother and mother remains painful, but Cyril begins to see how his family’s identity with a traumatic past has marred his future. 

The Delusionist explores tenacious artistic ambition, enduring love, and the aftereffects of family trauma. 
The Showman and the Ukrainian Cause The Showman and the
Ukrainian Cause

By Orest T. Martynowych

The quixotic and volatile Vasile Avramenko (1895–1981) used folk dance and film in a life-long crusade to promote Ukrainian independence in Canada and the United States.

Energetic and charismatic, but also manipulative, impractical and vain, he was a controversial figure for decades. Born in a village near Kyiv, Avramenko established himself as a performer and dance teacher in central Europe. He immigrated to Canada in 1925, organized Ukrainian folk dance schools, and changed Canadian perceptions of Ukrainians and their folk culture. Determined to conquer Broadway, he moved to New York City in 1929 and continued staging elaborate (money-losing) dance spectacles throughout the United States and Canada.

By the mid-1930s, Avramenko’s frenetic activities expanded to filmmaking.  He called for the creation of a “Ukrainian Hollywood,” organized film companies in New York and Winnipeg, and begged and borrowed enough money to produce two musicals directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, the “king of ethnic and B movies.”  After the Second World War Avramenko’s career declined and his last decades were spent screening films and travelling to Europe, Australia and Israel in fruitless attempts to find sponsors for his spectacles.  Based on extensive original research, the book provides a vivid portrait of howculture and politics intersect in a diaspora community.
Detachment: An Adoption Memoir Detachment: An Adoption Memoir
By Maurice Mierau

In 2005, Maurice Mierau and his wife, Betsy, travelled to Ukraine to adopt two small boys, ages three and five. After weeks of delays while navigating a tangled bureaucracy, they returned to Canada as a proud new family of four.

Now what?

Is family something that is created in an instant? Does fatherhood begin the moment that the adoption papers are signed? And what happens when everything seems to be on the verge of falling apart?

In Detachment, Maurice Mierauprobes not only the process of adoption but what comes after—the challenges of becoming a family, the strain on his marriage. While one of his sons acts out and gets in trouble at school, Maurice feels removed, detached, thinking instead about his own emotionally distant father. Also born in Ukraine, Maurice’s Mennonite father has a traumatic and mysterious past of his own as an orphan and a child refugee of World War II. If Maurice can better understand his father’s life, perhaps he can start to make sense of his new sons…

Detachment is a moving, darkly funny, and searingly unsentimental memoir about learning to become a father and a son.
Underground SoldierUnderground Soldier
By Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Fourteen-year-old Luka works as an Ostarbeiter in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, alongside Lida from Making Bombs for Hitler. Desperate to escape the brutal conditions of the labour camp, he manages to get away by hiding in a truck under a pile of dead bodies.

Once free, Luka joins a group of Ukrainian resistance fighters. Caught between advancing Nazis in the west and Soviet troops in the east, they mount guerilla raids, help POW escapees, and do all they can to make life hard for the Nazis and Soviets. After the war, Luka must decide whether to follow Lida to Canada — or stay in Europe and search for his long-lost mother.

Underground Soldier is a companion book to Stolen Child and Making Bombs for Hitler, and a perfect entry point into the series for new readers, as the books can be read in any order.
According to BabaAccording to Baba: A Collaborative Oral History of Sudbury's Ukrainian Community
By Stacey Zembrzycki

Dreams of steady employment in the mining sector led thousands of Ukrainian immigrants to northern Ontario in the early 1900s. As a child, historian Stacey Zembrzycki listened to her baba’s stories about Sudbury’s small but polarized community and what it was like growing up ethnic during the Depression.

According to Baba grew out of those stories, out of a granddaughter’s desire to capture the experiences of her grandparents’ generation on paper. Eighty-two interviews conducted by Stacey and her grandmother, Olga, laid the groundwork for this insightful and deeply personal social history of one of Canada’s most colourful ethnic communities. The interview process also brought to light the challenges of doing collaborative oral history with community members, particularly as Stacey lost authority to her baba, wrestled it back, and eventually came to share it, and as interviewees met questions with nostalgic reminiscences, subversive humour, or impenetrable silence.

By providing a realistic glimpse into the hard work that goes into making communities partners in oral history research, this book provides a new paradigm for studying the politics of memory, one that recognizes that people are not passive recipients of their histories but rather counter and create narratives about the past by invoking alternative ways of remembering.

Kobzar Literary Award 2016 Shortlisted Authors Featured at International Festival of Authors

Marsha Skrypuch, Maurice Mierau, Orest Martynowych, Stacey Zembrzycki.

From left to right: Marsha Skrypuch, Maurice Mierau, Orest Martynowych, Stacey Zembrzycki.

Marsha Skrypuch, Maurice Mierau, Orest Martynowych, Stacey Zembrzycki and host Ania Szabo at podium.

From left to right: Marsha Skrypuch, Maurice Mierau, Orest Martynowych, Stacey Zembrzycki and host Ania Szabo at podium.

Kobzar Shortlisted authors: Marsha Skrypuch, Stacey Zembrzycki, Orest Martynowych, Maurice Mierau and Christine Turkewych, Director of Literary Arts, Shevchenko Foundation.

From left to right: Kobzar Shortlisted authors: Marsha Skrypuch, Stacey Zembrzycki, Orest Martynowych, Maurice Mierau and Christine Turkewych, Director of Literary Arts, Shevchenko Foundation.

September 7, 2015 (Toronto, Ontario). The Kobzar Literary Award celebrates narratives that address Ukrainian Canadian themes.

Jury members Karen Connelly, Tamas Dobozy and Shandi Mitchell said they were " inspired by the many literary works, histories, life stories, and documentaries that were entered for this prize. We were grateful, as well, for the insights they offered us into a cultural and historical tradition that was not necessarily our own. Throughout the course of reading and viewing these works, we developed a greater understanding of and appreciation for Ukrainian culture and its importance that seems especially pressing today. We wish all of these writers continued success along their chosen paths, and thank them for bringing us into their worlds."

The 2016 Kobzar Literary Award shortlisted nominees are:

Buday, Grant The Delusionist. Anvil Press; Vancouver, B.C., Canada, 2014
Martynowych, Orest The Showman and the Ukrainian Cause: Folk Dance, Film and the Life of Vasile Avramenko. University of Manitoba Press; Winnipeg, MB, 2014
Mierau, Maurice Detachment: An Adoption Memoir. Freehand Books; Calgary, Alberta, 2014
Skrypuch, Marsha Forchuk Underground Soldier. Scholastic Canada Ltd., Toronto, 2014
Zembrzycki, Stacey According to Baba: A collaborative Oral History of Sudbury's Ukrainian Community. University of British Columbia Press; Vancouver, BC, 2014.

The Kobzar shortlisted authors will read from their works at the International Festival of Authors (IFOA), on Sunday October 25 at Harbourfront. Tickets for the IFOA are available at www.IFOA.org.

About Kobzar Literary Award: Launched in 2003 by the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko, the biennial $25,000 Kobzar Award recognizes outstanding contributions to Canadian literary arts through presentation of a Ukrainian Canadian theme with literary merit. A winner will be announced at the award ceremony on March 3, 2016 at Palais Royale in Toronto. www.kobzarliteraryaward.ca

About Shevchenko Foundation: The Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko is a national, chartered philanthropic institution providing leadership by building and nurturing a permanent endowment fund dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the Ukrainian Canadian cultural heritage and the advancement of a flourishing Ukrainian community for the enrichment of Canada. www.shevchenkofoundation.ca

About International Festival of Authors: IFOA presents the finest international novelists, poets, playwrights, short story writers and biographers, and provides Canadian writers with an internationally recognized forum in which to present their work. Incorporated in 1986 as a nonprofit organization with a mandate to cultivate and advance the cause of literature, the organization operates under the principal sponsorship of Harbourfront Centre.

MEDIA CONTACT: Dr. Christine Turkewych
Phone: 1 866 524‐5314

Jurors Announced
for $25,000
Kobzar Literary Award

Toronto, July 2, 2015 - The Board of Directors of the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko (Shevchenko Foundation) is pleased to announce the Kobzar 2016 Literary Award judging panel.  In alphabetical order:

Karen Connelly
Professor Tamas Dobozy
Shandi Mitchell

“The Board of Directors is proud and very pleased to have the expertise of jurors who are award winners and highly regarded in the literary world. Their choices for the Kobzar shortlist reflect their literary expertise as they diligently selected submissions that best suited our criteria,” states Andrew Hladyshevsky, Q.C., President of the Shevchenko Foundation.

The Kobzar Literary Award was created to foster cultural development through the literary arts and create opportunities for all Canadian writers to explore Ukrainian Canadian themes.

The Kobzar 2016 Literary Award shortlisted finalists will be released soon and the recipient will be announced at an award ceremony on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 at Toronto’s Palais Royale.

Presented every two years, the $25,000 Kobzar Literary Award recognizes a Canadian writer who best presents a Ukrainian Canadian theme with literary merit. Each shortlisted author receives $1000.00 .

For more information, view:

Contact: Dr. Christine Turkewych, Director of Literary Arts

    Kobzar Bookshelf

Key Dates

January 15, 2017
Deadline for submissions for awarding in March 2018

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