Canada Writes '07

Finalists: Maritimes

FINALIST…

Ben Boudreau

HUMOUR

You were wearing my pants. The South Shore Hospital scrubs. One of our lesser Frenchy’s finds. Others would wonder if someone had died in them, but not you. Your beloved pantaloons, you’d call them.

One of the kids fell on the lawn off the side of the porch where we sat. A hidden hole the size of a soccer ball interrupted their reenactment of whatever the hip Disney princess movie was at the time. Cinderella lay crumpled in the grass like Beckham at the World Cup while Jasmine and Ariel stood by with arms crossed: once a commoner, always a commoner.

You leapt into action, oversized pantaloons catching the wind, flapping like a cape. I smiled the way you always made me smile.

You ended up face-first on the ground, sprawled out like a skydiving accident but for one foot wedged in the villainous hole. The royal procession skipped off, wounds already forgotten. Comedic genius.

I had hoped that you would mutter, “We are not amused!” but instead you just clutched your swollen ankle and picked clumps of dirt out of your brown curls.

At least you were already dressed for the hospital.

BIO

Head-shot of Ben Boudreau

I didn’t stand a chance really. Born the son of a Grammar Queen and a true storyteller, it was no surprise that while other kids were drawing pictures, I was writing. Good thing, since I don’t have a lick of talent when it comes to illustrations.

Growing up, my love of words and languages only grew as I spent three years immersed in Dutch while living on a rural island in The Netherlands followed by years of French immersion upon my return to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Even in the eighth grade, I won over a tough in-crowd with a series of stories written about them as if they were a 1920’s mafia crowd. Oh the things we do for acceptance!

Today, I’m enjoying life after undergrad, proud to have my Bachelor of Public Relations behind me. I’m getting my career on its feet in a world of professional communications while ensuring I save some time for creativity on the side. I try to write something new every week for my blog (http://bensprblog.blogspot.com) in order to keep my brain thinking and to keep my creative writing professor from calling me a sell-out.

SEMI-FINALISTS…

Kate Inglis

BLOG

They say God pressed in the eyes of the Irish—those silken, freckled, raven-haired types—with a sooty thumb.

I’ve since observed that God pressed in the eyes of the new mother with a sandy thumb, a thumb first swished in vinegar and then dipped into the guts of an urban beach littered with e.coli and cigarette butts and chunks of kegger barf.

I finish nursing in the breeze of the window then burp, tuck, back away slowly. Then climb into bed, clutch the duvet up around chilled shoulders, swish legs back and forth. Melting into the mattress with that giddy, going-to-be-asleep-in-thirty-seconds-flat feeling but in twenty-nine seconds he squawks, needing to be UPRIGHT, NOW. Repeat: 3:30. 4:45. 5:30.

I beg into the murk before dawn “PLEASE button yourself, please so I can sink into this bed and not get up again…”

Then he spurts a stream of hot, runny yogurt that trickles wet down my back and I am his again and I tsk and coo “there sweets, I know it’s not easy, being a baby. You curl up on mama and find sleep in thirty seconds flat. Mamalove truly, madly, deeply.”

BIO

Despite being convinced that parenthood would be a barfy-smelling, cheerio-crunching, sweatpant-wearing purgatory, I had a baby. Bewitched amid smears of peanut butter by a wriggling, scruffy, golden retriever of a kid named Evan. Alongside this first pregnancy, Sweet/Salty (www.sweetsalty.com) was born, a personal outlet that recently allowed me to capture a part of the human experience I would have thought inhospitable to light.

Happily recruited into the baby gulag, we became pregnant with identical twin boys. Born catastrophically three months early, one survived and one did not, each the size of barely enough butter for a pie. Liam, who lived for six weeks, is a hole in our hearts, murmuring to us every day. Now five months old, his mirror-brother Ben grins and stretches and farts gloriously, living and thriving for two.

We carry on, struck by lightening, simultaneously torn to shreds and inspired to live in technicolour. Thanks to the release and community of Sweet|Salty I have evolved like an alien creature of the deepest trenches in the sea, able despite blackness to feel with alternate senses for sustenance and peace. And to laugh at baby farts, because they’re funny.

Diane Sokoloski

BLOG

I blame my state on postpartum depression even though my youngest is eight years old. I realize postpartum depression happens soon after birth but what do doctors know?

My mother’s brain surgeon Dr. MegaHead didn’t save her. My father’s heart doctor didn’t install that thingamajig in time that was supposed to kick-start dad’s blocked, sickly, blackened-from-chain-smoking-since-he-was-seventeen heart, did he? And what about Auntie Ann? Ann who used to make coffee with an old paper towel stuffed into a broken coffee maker and at Thanksgiving exclaimed “Gee I guess I could have cooked this goose some more” while we all innocently tucked into a goose she had prepared. Aunt Ann who stared longingly at the pigeons on her roof all the while salivating and wishing she could catch them and bake them into a pie. Would she undercook the pie like she undercooked the goose? What if we were actually eating a REALLY LARGE UNDERCOOKED PIGEON at Thanksgiving and not undercooked goose? The doctors couldn’t save Anne after she had a stroke.

If I say it’s postpartum depression then that’s what it is.

BIO

Recently Diane and her family loaded their four guinea pigs into the back of the van and made a life-altering move from Southern Ontario to rural New Brunswick, where she is ecstatic to report that being unemployed in The Maritimes is more character-building than being a working sissy in Toronto.

Her satirical story Advice For The Modern Street Busker was published in a book Random Acts of Malice: The Best of Happy Woman Magazine (Liaison Press 2005).

Other humorous stories of hers, including Spontaneous Public Pole Dancing and Kick That Silly Terrorist Habit in Eight Easy Steps may be read on the award-winning website: www.happywomanmagazine.com. She has made $4.14 in royalties.

Thanks to the judges!

Jackie Torrens is a freelance screenwriter, satirist, and star of radio and screen, based in Halifax, NS.

Nelson Cabral is the creative director of SGCI Communications Inc, and an award-winning advertising writer; based in Sackville, NB.

How it works!

1. October 1st to October 12th

We have received your submissions in the following categories:

Thank you!

2. Auditions are over. Five finalists have been chosen!

Now they’ll head to Toronto for the taping of Canada Writes with Jian Ghomeshi. They’ll have to compete with each other—and the clock—to impress the three judges.

3. Listen to Canada Writes, the radio show, and visit Canada Writes on-line beginning November 20th...

Writing skills—and nerves—will be put to the test as contestants get one hour to complete each writing challenge. They’ll have to be versatile too. Each challenge is in a different Canada Writes category. But the moment of truth is in the delivery: the contestants will have to impress the judges with their read to stay in the game!

You can take the same timed challenges right here at cbc.ca/canadawrites AND vote for (and win) a People’s Choice Award for on-line entries.

Words At Large