CBC Literary Prizes

5 writers make 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize shortlist

Read the stories vying for $6,000 from Canada Council for the Arts, a 10-day writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and publication in Air Canada enRoute magazine.

UPDATE, SEPT. 19, 2017: Becky Blake won the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize for "Trust Exercise".

Five writers from across Canada have made the shortlist for the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize, with stories that range from finding first love to losing loved ones. 

The finalists were selected by the jury, which is comprised of Carmen Aguirre, Dave Bidini and Charlotte Gray. The jury will also select the eventual winner, who will be announced on Sept. 19, 2017. The longlist was selected by a team of readers comprised of writers and editors across Canada.

The winner of the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, attend a 10-day writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and have their story published on CBC Books and in Air Canada enRoute magazine. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and will have their story published on CBC Books.

Here are the 2017 finalists, with links so you can read their shortlisted entries.

"Caught" by Sarah Bennett

Sarah Bennett is working on her first novel from her home in St. John's, N.L. (Debra Gaetz)

About Sarah: Sarah Bennett is a writer from St. John's, N.L., where she is currently working on a novel. She studies fiction at Memorial University under Lisa Moore. She's been longlisted for the CBC Nonfiction Prize three times. "Caught" is about a relationship with an old friend.

Why she wrote "Caught": "This piece was inspired by an old friend who continues to haunt my thoughts from time to time."

"Trust Exercise" by Becky Blake

Becky Blake was the winner of the 2013 CBC Short Story Prize. (Ayelet Tsabari)

About Becky: Becky Blake won the CBC Short Story Prize in 2013. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications across Canada and her debut novel is coming out in the spring of 2019. "Trust Exercise" is about her first love. Blake lives in Toronto, Ont.

Why she wrote "Trust Exercise": "A friend was launching a short story collection and she asked me if I would write something on the topic of food to read at her event. Food and love are two things that go hand-in-hand for me. A first draft of 'Trust Exercise' was the result."

"Diving" by Alisha Mascarenhas

Alisha Mascarenhas' writing has been published in journals such as West Coast Line, Subversions: a journal of feminist queries and Word & Colour. (Kinga Michalska)

About Alisha: Alisha Mascarenhas's work has been published in journals such as West Coast Line, Subversions: a journal of feminist queries and Word & Colour. Originally from Vancouver and having spent the last six years in Montreal, Mascarenhas is currently located in Brooklyn where she is pursuing an MFA in Writing at Pratt Institute. "Diving" is about how, when she was young, she watched her father drown. 

Why she wrote "Diving": "I held onto the story of my father's sudden death, to which only my younger brother and I were witness, for 15 years. Some time last year it became evident that I was ready to write it. I wanted to offer an account that honoured the moment of his death not only in memory, but in the ongoing, cyclical experience of opening to grief as it continues to live in my mind and body."

"The Guardian" by Gail Nardi

Gail Nardi is a voracious reader with a love of dark chocolate and good coffee, vegetable gardening, wilderness hiking, and working dogs and their people. (Robert Nardi)

About Gail: Gail Nardi has lived in Yukon since 1972. Nardi is a retired licensed practical nurse who only started writing seriously in her 60s. "The Guardian" is about a beloved family dog that protected her young children while living in Dawson City.

Why she wrote "The Guardian": "As I age, I feel unchanged, but I've noted some changes in the way I'm perceived by others. The past events that shaped my self-awareness of weaknesses and strengths remind me of who I am when I sense that others are trying to redefine me."

"The Road to Machu Picchu Starts at 385 lbs" by Carla Powell

Carla Powell's career life took her from hospitals and universities to national charities and museums. (Carla Powell)

About Carla: Carla Powell is originally from Alberta, but now makes her home in Liverpool, N.S. She's worked in hospitals and universities to national charities and museums. "The Road to Machu Picchu Starts at 385 lbs" is about the time Powell hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. 

Why she wrote "The Road to Machu Picchu Starts at 385 lbs": "I felt incredibly alive when everyone I loved was incredibly dead. The inspiration was just that — becoming 'lighter' as  I climbed higher. Letting go of the heaviness that I had been carrying around with me in my heart and on my body."

To see the finalists for the French competition, go to the Prix de la nouvelle Radio-Canada.

The 2016 CBC Nonfiction Prize winner was Leslie A. Davidson for her story "Adaptation".

The CBC Literary Prizes have been recognizing Canadian writers since 1979. Past winners include Michael Ondaatje, Carol Shields, Michael Winter and Frances Itani.

If you are interested in entering the CBC Literary Prizes, the 2018 CBC Short Story Prize is open for submissions until Oct. 31, 2017.

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