Books·CBC Literary Prizes

Natalie Lim from Vancouver wins the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize for Arrhythmia

Lim will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and a writing residency at the Banff Centre. Read her poem, Arrhythmia, now.
Natalie Lim is a Vancouver-based poet and musician. (Amanda Lim)

Natalie Lim from Vancouver, B.C. has won the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize for Arrhythmia, a poem about language, family and losing a part of yourself. 

As the grand prize winner, Lim will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and a writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Her poem was published on CBC Books.

"As a third-generation Chinese Canadian, I often feel alienated from the 'Chinese' part of my identity. I was born and raised in Canada, just like my parents. I barely speak Chinese, and I know almost nothing about Chinese culture." Lim told CBC Books in an email. "I wrote Arrhythmia as a way of working through what it means to lose a part of yourself — or to never have known that part in the first place."

"Arrhythmia is a haunting lyric tribute to the love that endures across borders, time and loss of language," the jury, which was composed of Jordan Abel, Kai Cheng Thom and Ruth B., said in a statement. "With deft precision and arresting emotional depth, Arrhythmia is both grand and intimate in scope, evoking at once the stories of Chinese labourers on the Canadian Pacific Railway and the complex relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter who do not speak the same tongue.

The 2018 CBC Poetry Prize was awarded to Natalie Lim for her poem inspired by the lives of her grandparents.

"Lovely, mournful, and hopeful all at once, Arrhythmia is a poem that does honour to all the ancestors who dreamed that their children might find a better life in the land the elders once called Golden Mountain."

Lim's entry was chosen from more than 2,500 English-language submissions.

The jury selected the finalists and the winner from a longlist of 31 poems. The longlist was selected by a team of readers made up of writers and editors across Canada

The other finalists for the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize were Sanita Fejzić for (M)other, Neil Griffin for Canadian Immigration Services Citizenship Exam, Julie Mannell for Phone Sex with a One Time Lover on the West Coast and Bola Opaleke for The Autobiography of Water. The finalists each received $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and had their poems published on CBC Books.

Mario Brassard is the winner of the French-language grand prize, Prix de poésie Radio-Canada, for his poem Séconal.

The CBC Literary Prizes have been recognizing Canadian writers since 1979. Past winners include Michael Ondaatje, Carol Shields, Michael Winter and Frances Itani.​

If you're interested in the CBC Literary Prizes, the CBC Nonfiction Prize will be open for submissions on Jan. 1, 2019. 

If you're a writer, you can join our Canada Writes Facebook group, a place where Canadian writers can connect and support each other.

Listen to Natalie read Arrhythmia:

The 2018 CBC Poetry Prize was awarded to Natalie Lim for her poem inspired by the lives of her grandparents.

Watch Natalie be interviewed on CBC News:

2018 CBC Poetry Prize winner Natalie Lim on CBC Vancouver News

4 years ago
Duration 2:51
Natalie Lim, winner of the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize joins CBC Vancouver News host Dan Burritt to read some of her award winning poem Arrhythmia and to talk about its significance to her.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?