CBC Literary Prizes

"Where the Spine Meets the Head" by Phil Dwyer

Phil Dwyer has made the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for "Where the Spine Meets the Head".

2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist

Phil Dwyer was journalist for 20 years in the U.K. He moved to Canada in 2002 to work with Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. (Vessios Photography)

Phil Dwyer has made the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for "Where the Spine Meets the Head".

About Phil

Phil Dwyer's asthmatic childhood contributed to a passion for reading, an encyclopaedic knowledge of 60s British pop, and a healthy distrust for the curvature of normal lives. A journalist for 20 years in the U.K., he moved to Canada in 2002 to work with Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams on a project that spawned Tapscott's The Naked Corporation. Dwyer is an alumni of the Humber School for Writers and has also workshopped his writing at the Banff Centre with Charlotte Gill and at the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Studies with Alissa York. He lives in Toronto.

Entry in five-ish words

Guinea pig meets unfortunate end.

The story's source of inspiration

"It's based on an incident in the late 80s. I lived with my (then) wife and my two kids in a tiny village in Kent, England. We had a major snowstorm (20 ft deep in places) which isolated us — no way into or out of the village. Which is when our pet guinea pig had a prolapse. I was designated to deal with it. The story is about a dying guinea pig, and a dying relationship."

First lines

"I've never killed before. Never even seen a dead body, unless you count a few goldfish, flushed down the toilet. I'm a townie, raised in a place where death is tidied away. A prolapse my wife Sara says. Uterus and ovaries trailing in the sawdust at the bottom of the cage when she fed Topaz earlier this morning. Inoperable, even if we could get to a vet, which we can't. We've been snowed in all weekend, a storm that rolled clean over the Russian steppes, tore down Britain's spine and dumped its angry white load on the North Downs. On us."

About the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize

The winner of the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, will have an opportunity to attend a 10-day writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and have their story published on CBC Books and in Air Canada enRoute magazine. Four finalists will receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their story published on CBC Books

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