CBC Literary Prizes

Calgary writer Brenda Damen wins 2020 CBC Short Story Prize

Brenda Damen will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre. Read her winning story now.
Brenda Damen is the winner of the 2020 CBC Short Story Prize. (Saje Damen)

Calgary writer Brenda Damen has won the 2020 CBC Short Story Prize for her story Gibson.

As the grand prize winner, Damen will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

Gibson was selected by the jury composed of David Bezmozgis, Alix Hawley and Rawi Hage.

"Gibson is a feat of fearless, poetic and even terrifying storytelling. The narrator, a young woman preyed upon cruelly and brutally by her father, nevertheless finds, through language and the sense data of the natural world, the strength and resilience to survive," the jury said in a statement. 

"This is writing of the first rank which demonstrates just how much a wise, sensitive and clear-eyed writer can do with the short story form."

You can read Gibson here.

Damen's story was selected from more than 2,400 English-language submissions.

Gibson is a short story excerpted from a work Damen has been working on for more than 13 years.

This is the first writing competition Damen has ever entered.

"This has all been very surreal. I've followed the competition for years, never entering, but always excited to read the finalists. Entering was solely a personal declaration of courage," Damen told CBC Books.

"It's very confirming as a writer. Even being called a writer is exhilarating. This is the height of everything for me."

The other finalists were Lyle Burwell for Highballin', Sarah Fulton for But Not to Call Me Back or Say GoodbyeJulia Jenkins for I Am Aani Littlecrab and Julia Zarankin for Black-legged Kittiwake. 

The finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts. You can read their stories on CBC Books.

The jury selected the finalists from a longlist of 32 writers. A team of writers and editors from across Canada compiled the longlist.

Julie Bouchard is the winner of the French-language grand prize, le Prix de la nouvelle Radio-Canada, for Fin juillet à Split Landing.

If you are interested in entering the CBC Literary Prizes, the CBC Poetry Prize is now open. The deadline to submit your original, unpublished poetry is May 31, 2020.

Calgary writer Brenda Damen reads her story, which won the 2020 CBC Short Story Prize, Gibson. Warning: This story includes details of sexual assault readers may find disturbing.

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