A construction worker from Victoria, B.C., who writes poetry won the $5,000 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers on Tuesday.

Garth Martens, 28, won the award for Inheritance and Other Poems, a selection from his work-in-progress manuscript titled The Motive of Machines.

"The curtain is raised on blue-collar work. Here's a poet of sweat and ambition and all the sensory detail and wild character that builds a world. Heroic, this writer is smoother than concrete," the jury said in its citation.

Martens serves on the editorial board of The Malahat Review. His writing has appeared in The Fiddlehead, Grain, Island Writer and the anthology Leonard Cohen: You're Our Man.

The literary prize for young unpublished writers alternates between poetry and short fiction. It is administered by the Writers Trust of Canada.

Two finalists receive $1,000. They are:

  • Raoul Fernandes, 32 of Vancouver.
  • Anne-Marie Turza,  34, of Victoria.

The Writers' Trust received 120 submissions from young poets from across Canada before a jury selected the winner.