CBC Literary Prizes

The Milkmaid's Tale by Tama Ward

Tama Ward has made the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for The Milkmaid's Tale.

2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist

Tama Ward is a writer from Vancouver. (Charles Balazs)

Tama Ward has made the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for The Milkmaid's Tale.

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 Tama

Tama Ward is a memoirist and playwright. After 25 years in community theatre and refugee resettlement work, her midlife reset included three years milking holsteins on a family-run dairy farm in Pitt Meadows. She currently serves as a religious educator with the United Church of Canada and lives in Vancouver with her husband, teenagers and cockapoo, Mocha. Her story My Friend Hafiz was longlisted for the 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize.

Entry in five-ish words

"Ambiguities in dairy and life."

The story's source of inspiration

"When I started working on a dairy farm, I was amazed at what a woman's world this man's world was (hence the play on the title with Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale). My own experiences of motherhood gave me an immediate connection to the cows and I wondered at a realm where the male of the species held little-to-no value. 

"Also, the three years I worked on the dairy were a conflicted time for me. I loved being with the cows, learning how to milk and care for them, yet I saw firsthand the toll that industrial farming, even on a small scale, can take on their overworked bodies."

First lines

Pif's in labour.

The pre-dawn text lights up my shoebox of a bedroom. I roll off the side of the bed so as not to wake my husband, grab my work clothes from a hook on the back of the door and get dressed in the living room to the light of the Christmas tree.

Let it be a girl. Please let it be a girl.

Thankfully science is on side. The genetic engineering seems to be working. Almost all live births now are girls. If it's a boy we'll send notice and the buyers will come to take him away.

My face looks back at me out the living room window, superimposed over the lights of Vancouver's distant downtown. I use the reflection to pin up my hair and notice my car at street level below entombed in a layer of ice.

Crap.

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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