CBC Literary Prizes

I've Been Out Walking by Matthew Hague

Matthew Hague has made the 2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for I’ve Been Out Walking.

2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist

Matthew Hague made the 2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for I’ve Been Out Walking. (Matthew Lamb)

Matthew Hague has made the 2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for I've Been Out Walking.

About Matthew

Matthew Hague is a Toronto-based writer whose journalism has been published in the Globe and Mail, enRoute and Toronto Life. His mother was born and raised in Mandeville, Jamaica, and his father grew up in Montreal. As a result, he never complains when the weather is either too hot or too cold, as both just feel like home. Too rainy, however, is another story.

Entry in five-ish words

"Walking Jamaica, visiting Granny, reflecting."

The story's source of inspiration

"I wrote the story because walking is my go-to, no-fail way to get around. It's de-stressing, and I prefer it to just about every other mode of transportation, including driving and flying. But last year, my grandmother got sick in Montego Bay, Jamaica, a place where walking can be difficult. Not because of the heat, but because of the high crime rate. When I flew down from Canada to see her in hospital, the city was in a military state of emergency after 100 people were murdered in 20 days, mostly due to gang-related violence. I was told to avoid the streets, and take taxis to and from her hospital. But I decided to walk instead, which forced me to think about what's lost (freedom) and what's gained (safety) when we start giving up the things we love for fear of unknown and unpredictable dangers."

First lines

I passed by many things while walking from my grandmother's rental apartment in Montego Bay, Jamaica to visit her in a hospital three kilometres down the road. A Hard Rock Café. Five-star hotels with aspirational names like Secrets, Breathless and Sunscape Splash. An old yacht club with abandoned boats sinking into a scum-filled bay. Luxury villas locked like prisoners behind steel bars. A taxi rank with drivers offering rides, drugs or both. A cruise ship terminal with idling jeeps and buses about to whisk vacationers on eco-tours. A police station with a long line of women and girls waiting to see their husbands and fathers who had been arrested in a recent wave of anti-gang raids. A restaurant where I once sat and listened to the "pop pop pop" of a nearby semi-automatic and tried to pretend it was fireworks. Fragrant gardens. Rank garbage. A gas station. People sitting in the shade of royal palm trees, trying to escape the heat of the day.

About the 2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize

The winner of the 2019 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 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 shortlist will be announced on Sept. 18, 2019. The winner will be announced on Sept. 25, 2019.