CBC Literary Prizes

Digital Elegy (for Rebecca) by Kirsten Madsen

Kirsten Madsen has made the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for Digital Elegy (for Rebecca).

2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist

Kirsten Madsen is a writer based in Whitehorse. (Gary Bremner)

Kirsten Madsen has made the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for Digital Elegy (for Rebecca).

The winner will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and will have their work published by CBC Books.

Four finalists will receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and will have their work published by CBC Books.

The shortlist will be announced on Sept. 24. The winner will be announced on Oct. 1.

About Kirsten

Kirsten Madsen is a writer based in Whitehorse, on the traditional territories of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the Ta'an Kwäch'än Council. Her story Mule Deer was a finalist for the 2015 CBC Short Story Prize. Her fiction has been published in The Walrus, Prairie Fire, The New Quarterly and the Alaska Quarterly Review. Kirsten has an MFA from the University of British Columbia, where her thesis novel was shortlisted for the 2013 HarperCollins Canada / UBC Prize for Best New Fiction.

Entry in five-ish words

"Mourning alone on the internet."

The story's source of inspiration

"I became fascinated with a stranger I discovered online and never once interacted with — not a famous person, either. I built a strange, one-sided friendship around this person and when they suddenly died — way too young — I was shocked and confused by my grief. It felt real. It was real, but it was also embarrassing. I wanted to explore what these feelings revealed about me and about the kind of loneliness the internet feeds."

First lines

When I found out Rebecca was dead, it was like a cold wind had scoured my living room. I gasped, and sank back on the couch, dislodging my laptop. I think I spoke aloud. "No," I said. "Please, no." And then I cried, hard.

Rebecca was young, younger than me by a decade. Too young to die so young. She was a writer, a thinker. She wore a lot of jewlery, collected thoughtful tattoos. Her tattoos had words: You shall know the truth and the truth will make you free. And Beckett: I can't go on. I'll go on.

Rebecca planted lilies and dahlias in the earth outside her rental house. She would stay up late immersing herself in an album of music, sometimes dropping acid to intensify the experience. 

About the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize

The winner of the 2020 CBC Nonfiction 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 the 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.

The 2021 CBC Short Story Prize is currently open for submissions. The 2021 CBC Nonfiction Prize will open in January. The 2021 CBC Poetry Prize will open in April.

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