Vernon poet's 'Homeless Memorial' makes book award longlist - InfoNews

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Vernon poet's 'Homeless Memorial' makes book award longlist

John La Greca reads from his newly-published book, "Homeless Memorial" on Jul. 27, 2018 in Vernon.
February 14, 2019 - 6:30 PM

VERNON - A Vernon poet who published his first book last summer - after four decades of writing - has had his book nominated for the 2019 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature.

John La Greca's collection of poetry, 'Homeless Memorial' has made the longlist for the B.C. literacy award.

La Greca told iNFOnews.ca in an email he welcomed the news he'd made it onto the longlist and hoped the recognition would give him more opportunity to be published.

"Notice that I didn't say write. I do an awful lot of that," he adds. "I'm not that interested in being famous. It means that I could have more options about areas of creation that I could go in."

After a lifetime spent on and off the streets, and thousands and thousands of poems written, the Vernon native received his big break a few years ago after a chance encounter with award-winning writer and poet Harold Rhenisch at the Vernon Library. Rhenisch, who won the George Ryga Award in 2007, recognized La Greca's craft and through his knowledge of the B.C. literacy scene found Victoria-based Ekstasis Editions to publish La Greca's work.

And since the book was published in 2018, Rhenisch says it got some really positive press.

And does Rhenisch think La Greca has a chance at winning the award, and snagging the $2,000 prize money that goes with it?

"He's up against some big names and some really big stories... the honesty he brings to something most people don't even look at means that's he's got as good a chance as anybody."

La Greca said he wants recognition for his writing, plus a few benefits that would come with it, like travel and grants.

"It might mean travel to [where] writers are appreciated." said La Greca. "Like Ireland."

La Greca may not be interested in fame but he admits to being arrogant.

"Poets are supposed to be arrogant. I'm no exception. But sometimes a poet has doubts," he said, but then later adds: "I think the Ryga Committee would do itself a favour by choosing this book to publicize the festival."

The winner of the 2019 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature will be announced in June.


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