Meet the inaugural Elizabeth Venart Prize recipient

Emerging writer Trina Warner from Chester, NS, has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Elizabeth Venart Prize. The prize comes with a $1,000 cheque from the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS), free registration for a WFNS creative writing workshop, and advice from a professional author through WFNS’s Coffee Chats program.

A speech-language pathologist, Trina has worked on the South Shore of Nova Scotia for past 20 years. From an early age, she found adventure, friendship, solace, and guidance in libraries and books. For just as long, she has written privately as a means of self-discovery and self-expression, but the bulk of her writing has been for academic or professional purposes.

It was during the COVID-19 pandemic that she decided to explore writing creative non-fiction. Her submission to the Elizabeth Venart Prize was the product of writing workshops she’s taken through the University of King’s College and the WFNS. She plans to use the Elizabeth Venart Prize to foster her creative writing practice.

Trina lives with her husband, young daughter, and excitable six-month-old golden retriever, Rosie. Beyond books, Trina believes in the transformative power of stories and the courage it takes to tell them.

Introduced earlier this year, the Elizabeth Venart Prize was created by the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia board to support emerging writers whose work-in-progress shows promise and career-advancing merit. The prize aims to help finance the time, space, and professional development required to write, to revise and edit, and/or to submit work for publication. Submissions will be open on an annual basis to women and writers of other marginalized genders.

The prize is named for Elizabeth Venart (1937-2008), a wife and mother. She began writing seriously only later in her life, and finding the time to do so was difficult while raising a family and running a farm.

Sarah Venart, daughter of Elizabeth and herself a poet, remembers her mother being “most satisfied and content when she was producing words in her writing room with her chosen view of apple blossoms and the sipping hummingbirds.”

The Elizabeth Venart Prize endowment was built through donations by the Venart family, contributions from the WFNS, and the generosity of WFNS members.

In aiming to make the prize sustainable, WFNS has continued fundraiser efforts—most recently through the sale of Promptly: a miscellany of writing tips & tales from Nova Scotian authors and through Promptly: the workshop, to be held virtually from November 23 through December 14 and led by several contributors to the Promptly book.

Beautifully designed and printed by Gaspereau Press, Promptly is available through the online WFNS Gift Shop and at independent bookstores in Halifax & Dartmouth (Bookmark, King’s College Bookstore, Trident Books, Venus Envy, and Dartmouth Book Exchange), on the South Shore (LaHave River Books, Block Shop Books, Lunenburg Bound, and Otis and Clementine’s), and in Sydney (On Paper Books).

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that each workshop’s participants share a level or range of writing / publication experience. This is to ensure each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their current writing priorities.

To this end, the “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions developed by WFNS:

  • New writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than two years and/or have not yet been published in any form.
  • Emerging writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than five years and/or have some short publications (poems, stories, or essays) in literary magazines, journals, or anthologies.
  • Established writers/authors: those with numerous publications in magazines, journals, or anthologies and/or a full-length book publication.
  • Professional authors: those with two or more full-length book publications.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” workshops, which provide more opportunities for peer-to-peer (that is, participant-to-participant) feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at communications@writers.ns.ca