The Curve of Forgetting by Sheila Brooke
2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist
Sheila Brooke has made the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for The Curve of Forgetting.
The shortlist will be announced on Sept. 24. The winner will be announced on Oct. 1.
Based from a small off-grid Gulf Island cabin, Sheila spends her summers working as a wildfire lookout observer in Canada's boreal forest and her winters working as a relief lighthouse keeper for the Canadian Coast Guard along B.C.'s beautiful coastlines. She punctuates the two jobs with treasured intervals of time spent with her daughter's family on the east coast, travelling and crewing sailboats. Sheila is working on a book of essays.
Entry in five-ish words
"A story of solitude."
The story's source of inspiration
"Seventeen seasons alone on a remote boreal fire tower."
There is a moment after the helicopter leaves me behind that always catches at my heart — is it joy? It comes at great expense, after weeks of mental and physical preparation, after a final week of safety orientations and last-minute panic stops for extra treats. After goodbyes and 'take care!'s, after loadings and unloadings; first the warehouse pallets, then a truck, then the helicopter. In a rush and a flurry, in a hurry-up-and-wait, amidst an incoming wave of dispatchers, firefighters, camp staff, other lookouts and data entry people; finally, on an outgoing wave of supplies to air bases; it's my turn.
Just a few weeks before almost three billion birds start arriving from different parts of the world to nest-build in Canada's great boreal forest, I am a blip on the migratory species curve. Human, fire lookout, seasonal. There are about 125 of us in Canada.
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.