CBC Literary Prizes

Bleeding Dogs and Baseball Bats by Julie Birrell

Julie Birrell has made the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for Bleeding Dogs and Baseball Bats.

2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist

Julie Birrell teaches, writes and lives in Toronto. (Camille Freeman)

Julie Birrell has made the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for Bleeding Dogs and Baseball Bats.

About Julie

Julie Birrell teaches, writes and lives in Toronto, where she was born and raised, with her partner and two children. She has recently returned to her leafy, crowded hometown after spending a year in rural New Zealand, where she completed a draft of her first novel. She is slowly re-adjusting, maybe.

Entry in five-ish words

How do we carry our pain?

The story's source of inspiration

"When I wrote this piece, I was thinking about how we all hold a certain amount of painful experience, both from our own lives and the lives of those around us. I live an impossibly lucky life, but my work as a teacher has exposed me to pain of all shapes, sizes and intensity. Personally, my father's influence has imbued my days with purpose and laughter, but I still carry the acute pain of his sudden death, even 20 years later. What happens to pain? Is it absorbed? Expunged? Does it evolve? How do we carry these feelings and carry on?"

First lines

  "I remember my father shoveling snow. He would put on his boots, tongues lolling, and go out onto our driveway, the rhythm of the scrape and heave waking me up from my teenage slumber. It is taxing, hearty work, to shovel a whole driveway. It was a long, particularly snowy winter. Afterwards, they thought that he had had a series of small heart attacks or mini-strokes. They could have caught them sooner, had he been the kind of man who visits a doctor. As it was, he woke up one morning, put on his dress pants and polo shirt, the uniform of a small local union president, and came down for breakfast. I was there, bleary after a night at my boyfriend's house. My mum was there too. I had an essay to write and a day off from my university courses to do it. My dad was leaning against the back of the family room couch. He turned his hand toward me, shaped like a gun. He pulled the trigger and let out a big, bready fart. My mum ignored him."

About the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize

The winner of the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their story published on CBC Books and attend a 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 story published on CBC Books.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now