CBC Literary Prizes

Not Home Vacuuming by Elizabeth Zetlin

Elizabeth Zetlin has made the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for Not Home Vaccuming.

2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist

Elizabeth Zetlin, based in Owen Sound, is an award-winning filmmaker, artist and author of five poetry collections. (Elizabeth Zetlin)

Elizabeth Zetlin has made the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for Not Home Vaccuming.

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Zetlin is an award-winning filmmaker, artist and author of five poetry collections, most recently The Punctuation Field (Black Moss Press). She's a two-time finalist for the CBC Literary Prizes, as well as a winner of the Shaunt Basmajian Chapbook Award. She was Owen Sound's inaugural poet laureate, co-founder and artistic director of the Words Aloud Spoken Word Festival, as well as the recipient of Owen Sound's Outstanding Individual in the Arts Award. Zetlin's current work focuses on water intersecting with science, activism, humans and other creatures. She lives in Owen Sound, Ont., along the Sydenham River and loves to fly fish.

Entry in five-ish words

Being salmon, being human.

The story's source of inspiration

"A group of sportsmen were at the Mill Dam netting, then killing the salmon to milk their eggs and sperm for their hatchery, so I asked if I could film the process for an art project. I was focused on the eggs spurting into a zip lock when one of the men said, 'You should be home vacuuming.' That startled and angered me and became the catalyst for this piece. Because I wasn't satisfied with my reply to the man ('My husband does the vacuuming.'), I asked Facebook friends what they might have done. I received more comments on that post than I ever have before. These comments then became part of the story, along with some of the readings I was doing about changing our point of view from anthropocentric to inter-species. Funny how when you really pay attention to one thing, like salmon, a lot of other issues emerge. Everything's connected."

First lines

  "'OK to film?' I ask one of the men. He nods. 'Some of it's not pretty,' he adds.

"I don't let on I know what he's talking about.

  "I set up the tripod and take a long shot. Eight or nine men. Most in waders or camouflage, one with a wooden club, another at the tall metal cradle they lay the salmon on for milking, a few sitting around coolers waiting to store the milt and spawn."

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, will have their story published on CBC Books and will have the opportunity to 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.

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