CBC Literary Prizes

Blackout Poetry by Maddy Robinson

Maddy Robinson has made the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for Blackout Poetry.

2019 CBC Short Story Prize longlist

Maddy Fay Robinson is a writer from Calgary, Alta. (Jacob James Bews)

Maddy Robinson has made the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for Blackout Poetry.

About Maddy

Maddy Fay Robinson is an English student gone rogue. She ran the Writers' Circle at the University of Calgary and received an editor's pick for her story published in NōD magazine. Maddy loves dustbunny cats and plasticine leaves and pet-project prose, black ink, snail-mail love letters, windy days and finally, run-on sentences. And sentence fragments. She lives with her family in Calgary, Alta.

Entry in five-ish words

Two writers walk into a bar.

The story's source of inspiration

"I never meant to publish Blackout Poetry; I wrote it somewhat by accident. I had spent a lot of nights regurgitating words onto a page because I had been dealing with some feelings that arose after spending an evening with another writer. One night, I was walking home from class and I asked myself: How do you tell a story about something you don't entirely recall? By the time I made it home, I had found my answer."

First lines

"I like blackout poetry, because..."

"Because it's pretentious?"

"No, because: I'm always wondering what's underneath the sharpie. Do you get what I'm saying?"

He didn't.

Wes was a new friend; he TA'd for my Shakespeare class. He constantly criticized my shoes. Jerk."

"The whole point is that you don't see what's underneath," he argued. Our bartender began to speak, but Wes continued. "It's supposed to be negative space."

"Excuse me," the bartender said, leaning over the  bar, the maple leaf  tattoo on her collarbone flagging a brief interlude in the debate. "I'm gonna need to see some ID."

We pulled out our wallets, ordered  two rum-and-cokes (doubles), and when she left, he snorted and nudged me in the ribs. "I've never gotten ID'd here until I came with you."

"Why is that such a bad thing?" I teased. "Don't like your photo?"

"Riley, jeez, nobody likes their photo."

"Lets see it, then."

"No way."

"Come on!"

He sighed and handed over the wallet.

The picture was a few years old; his face looked a lot more round without the facial hair and glasses, almost unrecognizable when he wasn't smiling. My eyes caught his date of birth.

"You're 28?" I churned it over in my head. A decade. An entire decade.

About the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize

The winner of the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.

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