Skip to content

Young Okanagan writers make an impression, get published

Awards celebrate vast talent of youth, collection preserves works
Selynn Choo accepts her award for best Short Story from Jadon Dick, with Okanagan Publishing House, at the Okanagan Young Writers’ Awards. (Contributed)

Through more than 40 submissions from nearly 20 different schools, a pair of young Vernon writers have wowed judges with their literary skills.

The 2023 Okanagan Young Writers’ Awards (OYWA) were founded to promote excellence in writing at the high school and early college level and are open to any youth attending school/university from the ages of 14 to 19.

Savannah Corocaran from Vernon Secondary School (VSS) has been awarded the winner in poetry, and Selynn Choo from VSS is the winner in the short story category. The two each receive a cash scholarship from The Morning Star.

A gala honouring the winners at the Rutland library in March featured poetry readings from Alice Melikhanov, from Heritage Christian Online School, and Ray Davie, from Kelowna Secondary School.

Betty Rempel, from Charles Bloom Secondary, read her short story titled The Notebook.

Choo followed with a reading of her winning entry, titled Clay Boy.

Kelowna Secondary’s Ray Davie took second place in poetry and Lucy Witteman from W.L. Seaton took third.

Also from Seaton, Anna Beyer claimed second for her short story with Lake Country’s George Elliot student Rory Macpherson earning third.

“It really was a deep field this year,” said Jadon Dick, chair of the OYWA judging panel. “In total, seven submissions were given a first place vote in a category, which speaks to the quality of the emerging writers represented.”

The judging panel is made up of Kerry Gilbert of Okanagan College Vernon campus, Jeremy Beaulne of Okanagan College Penticton campus, Jeremy Lanaway of Okanagan College Vernon campus, Dick (Okanagan Publishing House editor-in-chief) and Robert Humphries, a local published poet.

All winners and finalists will have their works published, in print and digitally, in the Best of the OYWA Collection 2023. This volume, produced by Okanagan Publishing House with proceeds from sales going to next year’s OYWA competition, is available for sale online at and

Honourable mentions, whose works have also been published in the book, are: Ruby Leavitt (J.L. Crowe), Noemie Schirrer (Okanagan Mission), Courtney Westfall (Kelowna Secondary), Melikhanov (poetry and short story), Davie, Rempel and Kailey Reinhard (J.L. Crowe).

“We have such a wealth of creative talent across our valley and it’s special to be able to celebrate that,” said Dick.

READ MORE: Some bunny is a winner: Vernon youth tops Easter contest

READ MORE: Falkland shines in new documentary by Kelowna filmmaker