5 writers make the 2022 CBC Nonfiction Prize shortlist
The winner will receive $6,000, attend a writing residency and have their work published on CBC Books
Five writers from across Canada have made the 2022 CBC Nonfiction Prize shortlist.
The finalists are:
- Your House by Cayenne Bradley (Victoria)
- Advice to a New Beekeeper by Susan Cormier (Langley, B.C.)
- Seh Woo, My Teeth by Kerissa Dickie (Fort Nelson, B.C.)
- Tek Tek by Y. S. Lee (Kingston, Ont.)
- Storkatorium by Jane Ozkowski (Bloomfield, Ont.)
The remaining four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts.
All five finalists had their work published on CBC Books. You can read their stories by clicking on the links above.
This year's finalists were selected by a jury comprised of Marcello Di Cintio, Sharon Butala and Jenna Butler. They will also select the winner.
The shortlist for the French-language competition has also been revealed. To read more, go to the Prix du récit Radio-Canada.
Get to know the 2022 CBC Nonfiction Prize English-language finalists below.
Cayenne Bradley won first place in Event's 2021 Non-Fiction Contest and Room's 2020 Short Forms contest. Their work can be found in publications such as Contemporary Verse 2, Plenitude and the Temz Review. They have a BFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia and live in Victoria with their fiancé and infant daughter. Bradley is currently finishing a memoir they hope to publish soon.
Why they wrote Your House: "I cope with difficult memories by turning them into art. There's something so transformative about finding poetry in my pain; it's a way to reclaim and give a new purpose to experiences I had no control over.
I cope with difficult memories by turning them into art.
"To write through trauma is to write through the body and release somatic ghosts. I know I've found the right words when the story feels like a safe house and resting place for a dark memory."
Métis writer Susan Cormier works in print, performance and film. She has won the Federation of B.C. Writers' Literary Award, the Hemingway Short Story Prize and the B.C. Alternative Writing and Design Competition, and has been shortlisted for Arc Magazine's Poem of the Year and SubTerrain's Lush Triumphant Award. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Atlantis Women's Studies Journal, B&A New Fiction, West Coast Line and the anthologies Rocksalt: An Anthology of Contemporary B.C. Poets and Against Death: 35 Essays on Living. By day, she is a beekeeper and co-owner of C.R. Apiary in Langley, B.C.; by night, she is the producer of Vancouver Story Slam.
Why she wrote Advice to a New Beekeeper: "Bees are viewed as a beautiful enigma, a quasi-mythical species that is governed by a natural magic. By extension of this, beekeeping is assumed to be a simple pastime, rather than an intense combination of physical labour and scientific learning. As a result, many novice keepers struggle under the steep learning curve and need to rely heavily on educational tools such as mentors, books, clubs and instructional classes.
The pain and poetry cannot be taught, can only be experienced first-hand.
"There is indescribably great beauty and magic in beekeeping, yes, but it does not exist in the simple observation of bees, the passive ownership of a colony of bees, or the quoting of trite facts about bees. It exists in the interactions between the bees and a knowledgeable, insightful keeper, in the epiphanies one has while working with the bees. The pain and poetry cannot be taught, can only be experienced first-hand. This essay is an attempt, within the limitations of our awkward human language, to convey some of the things that a beekeeper learns that cannot be gleaned from books, videos and discussion."
Kerissa Dickie is Dene from Fort Nelson First Nation, a community across the river valley from the town of Fort Nelson, B.C. Her passion for writing was stoked while helping create a book of stories by residential school survivors in her community. Afterwards, she immediately enrolled at the University of Victoria to continue to hone her craft. She won a national writing award just before graduating with her BFA that brought her to Ottawa. She saw her writing published in the anthologies Initiations: A Selection of Young Native Writings and Impact: Colonialism in Canada and in magazines and newspapers such as Beaver and Windspeaker. Dickie is currently working on her memoir, and Seh Woo, My Teeth is an excerpt.
I needed to create a place where my grandmother was still sitting beside me.
Why she wrote Seh Woo, My Teeth: "As melodramatic as it sounds, I felt like I needed to create a place where my grandmother was still sitting beside me."
Y. S. Lee's fiction includes the YA mystery series The Agency, which was translated into six languages. Her poems appear in publications such as Event, Room, Rattle and the Literary Review of Canada. Her poem Saturday morning, East Pender Street was longlisted for the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize. She lives in Katarokwi (Kingston, Ont.).
I miss my grandmother deeply, but I'm not sure how well I knew her.
Why she wrote Tek Tek: "I miss my grandmother deeply, but I'm not sure how well I knew her. I wonder how a fluent common language would have deepened our relationship."
Jane Ozkowski splits her time between writing and renovating vintage campers. Her writing has appeared in the National Post, Vice, on the Walrus Blog and in a variety of other print and online publications. She is also the author of the YA novel Watching Traffic. Storkatorium is the start of a book-length project she's working on focusing on the challenges of conceiving a child as a queer couple.
Why she wrote Storkatorium: "My wife and I have been working with a fertility clinic for over a year now and every step has been a challenge. From trying to navigate a bureaucratic system clearly not set up for queer people, to endless miscommunications, to interactions where I've felt treated as far less than human, what I thought would be a special and beautiful experience has turned into something frustrating and disheartening.
I wanted to vent some of my early frustrations with the fertility process while holding on to what my wife and I are working toward.
"In writing Storkatorium, I wanted to vent some of my early frustrations with the fertility process while holding on to what my wife and I are working toward. I wanted to take some of the heartache we've felt so far and turn it into something beautiful to remind us that there will be an end, and it will all be worth it."