CBC Literary Prizes

Comparative Literature by Ian Stewart

Ian Stewart has made the 2020 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for Comparative Literature.

2020 CBC Short Story Prize longlist

Ian Stewart is a Montreal-based writer and artist. (Indigo Esmonde)

Ian Stewart has made the 2020 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for Comparative Literature.

The shortlist will be announced on April 15. The winner will be announced on April 22.

About Ian

Ian Stewart is an artist in Montreal. He co-founded the Institute for the Calibration of Reality with artist Indigo Esmonde. He has a masters in mathematics from McGill and a PhD in music from City University. His sonic art work has appeared in concerts and galleries worldwide and has won several awards, including a 1997 CBC young composers prize. He was once a university lecturer, but now focuses on creative pursuits. He is writing a novel and a screenplay, and co-wrote a set of illustrated haiku that will be sent to outer space (NewSpace2060 competition).

Entry in five-ish words

The end(s) of literary criticism.

The story's source of inspiration

"I can't pinpoint a specific source of inspiration. I had an idea in a Montreal café that seemed worthwhile (the idea, not the café), and it developed into this story. The premise let me explore one issue that I often think about: how we form artistic judgments, and how overexposure can make the lines blur. After rewording a sentence for the fiftieth time, I start to wonder if the sentence was worth writing to begin with. I imagine competition jurors also sometimes wonder what criteria to use after reading 50 interesting story submissions."

First lines

Judy Kate Ward poured two fingers of Laphroaig into an Ashcroft Twist glass and finished it with a splash of tap water. She was not working on her novel this morning, her tragicomic opus about the fish shortage. She was judging the entries for Write of Spring, a short story competition with a seasonal theme, and sobriety was optional. She stared at the stack of manuscripts on her desk and picked a sheaf from the top of the pile: Small Claims Court: A Disquisition on Loss. She scanned the first few lines. "This is sad," she thought. She stared out at Parc La Fontaine, where parents were gathering up their wayward children to get them home for lunch. She refilled her glass and returned to the pages. "This is really sad," she said aloud, as a tear slowly found its way down her face. "I'll never write anything this sad." She submerged herself in her bathtub, and only resurfaced a day later, when her landlord came into the apartment to investigate the water that was pooling into the stairwell.

About the 2020 CBC Short Story Prize

The winner of the 2020 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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