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CBC Literary Awards

The CBC Literary Awards competition is the only literary competition that celebrates original, unpublished works, in Canada’s two official languages. There are three categories—short story, poetry, and creative nonfiction—and $60,000 of prize money courtesy of the Canada Council for the Arts. In addition, winning entries are published in Air Canada’s enRoute magazine and visibility is offered to the winners and their winning entries by CBC.

The CBC Literary Awards also published two anthologies, one in English and one in French, celebrating the first place winners of the joint competition between 2001 and 2006. The Mind’s Eye (published by ECW) and Un ton, une voix, un texte… (XYZ Éditeur) feature the best in new poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction in both languages, and each volume contains three new translations of works from the other. We regret the recent passing of Bob Weaver, the founder of the CBC Literary Awards English competition 30 years ago. His legacy lives on in the Awards today, and in the pages of the newly published anthologies. The Mind’s Eye and Un ton, une voix, un texte… are available at CBC shop and in bookstores across the country.

Past Winners can be accesssed on CBC Radio Canada's Literary Awards site.

2009 CBC Literary Awards Winners

Creative Nonfiction

First Prize - English
Marian Botsford Fraser, Toronto, ON
THE RISE

Marian Botsford Fraser is a freelance writer and broadcaster who grew up in northern Ontario, has lived in England, New Zealand and Vancouver, travelled extensively in Africa and the Arctic and now lives in Toronto. She is the author of three acclaimed non-fiction books: Walking the Line: Travels Along the Canadian/American Border; Solitaire, and Requiem for My Brother, and numerous critical and feature pieces for newspapers and magazines, including GRANTA, The Globe and Mail, The Walrus, The Literary Review of Canada and MORE. Marian is currently Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN, the worldwide organization of writers active in the defence of freedom of expression.

Second Prize - English
Sarah de Leeuw, Prince George, BC
QUICK-QUICK. SLOW. SLOW.

Sarah de Leeuw is a geographer and creative writer. She is an assistant professor with UNBC's Northern Medical Program, the Faculty of Medicine at UBC. Her most recent book, The Geographies of a Lover, is forthcoming with NeWest Press (2012). She is currently at work on a book about people who provide healthcare in Northern B.C. (forthcoming with Creekstone Press, 2011). She is the author of Unmarked: Landscapes Along Highway 16 (NeWest 2004). Her essay "Columbus Burning" won of the 2008 CBC Literary Award for Creative nonfiction. Last winter she learned to two-step. She is thankful to the man who taught her the wonders of closing her eyes and following.

Poetry

First Prize - English
Michael Langton, Vancouver, BC
US UNCLEAN

Michael Langton was born and raised in Maple Ridge, B.C. and lives in Vancouver. An English tutor, he works with city high school students. For years he has been trying to learn, not without plenty of folly, to build the writing. Us unclean is his first competition win, and his first published work.

Second Prize - English
Tanis Rideout, Kingston, ON
ARGUMENTS WITH THE LAKE

Tanis Rideout is a poet and writer living and working in Toronto. In 2005 she released Delineation, poems exploring the lives and loves of comic book super-heroines; it has been featured on CBC Radio's Bandwidth with Alan Neal and Definitely Not the Opera with Sook-Yin Lee. Rideout also joined Sarah Harmer to read on Harmer's I Love the Escarpment Tour focusing on damage being done to the Niagara Escarpment. In 2006 she was named Poet Laureate of Lake Ontario by the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and toured with Gord Downie to draw attention to environmental issues on the lake. Her writing has appeared in numerous quarterlies and magazines and she has received grants from local and national arts councils.
Photo Credit: Johanna Reynolds
Short Story

First Prize - English
Donald Ward, Saskatoon, SK
BADGER

Donald Ward sold his first story to CBC Radio when he was 19. Thirty-two years later his first collection of short stories, Nobody Goes to Earth Any More, won Book of the Year at the 2003 Saskatchewan Book Awards. He had spent the interim as a journalist, editor, designer, and publisher. He has had a hand in the production of over 150 books, and is currently the in-house editor and designer for Purich Publishing in Saskatoon. He has recently moved back to the city after seven years on an acreage north of St. Peter's Abbey in east central Saskatchewan. The solitude got too much for him.
Caitlin Ward

Second Prize - English
Elissa Vann Struth, Vancouver, BC
DOWN TO THE ROOTS

Elissa Vann Struth was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She completed a BA in Economics and History at the University of Manitoba before relocating to Vancouver for an MA (Asian Studies) from the University of British Columbia. After finishing an interminable thesis, she started her own business, produced offspring, and finally decided to focus on what was important – i.e., writing. She now gets up at an ungodly hour every morning to fit this into her day. Elissa regrets giving up her self-publishing venture, which she began at age five with the release of her first hardcover title, Zoundie the Witch Hound, and is now working to regain her earlier momentum. She blogs at www.elissavannstruth.blogspot.com.

2008 Winners

Creative Nonfiction


First Prize - English
COLUMBUS BURNING
Sarah de Leeuw,
Prince George, BC
Sarah de Leeuw is a human geographer who grew up in northern British Columbia. She is the author of Unmarked: Landscapes along Highway 16, a collection of creative non-fiction essays exploring the geographies of her home. Sarah is an assistant professor in the Northern Medical Program at the University of Northern British Columbia, the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. She is ever grateful to those who want to linger…

Jury’s Comments:
“Columbus Burning, the story of a fire at The Columbus Hotel, a flop house housing the nameless disinherited, speaks not just for the downtown St. George poor, but for all the impoverished people in the backwaters of this country. The piece moves deftly between the anonymity of disenfranchisement; the bigotry of bystanders, and the fleeting conscience of the liberal fringe. In the flames that burn is our paradise lost.  Columbus Burning speaks to us, in poignant, subtle and beautiful language, reminding us that our treatment of the nameless and voiceless is a measure of our humanity.”


 

Second Prize - English
MY FATHER, SMOKING
Denise Ryan,
Vancouver, BC
Denise Ryan's fiction has appeared in Toronto Life and The Journey Prize Anthology. Her non-fiction has appeared on Salon.com and in Between Interruptions, 30 Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood (Key Porter). She is a feature writer for the Vancouver Sun and is finishing her first novel will be published by Thomas Allen in 2010.

Jury’s Comments:
“My Father, Smoking, is a profound account of a woman examining her father's life, and her own place in the father-daughter cosmos, after his death. Writing with powerful language full of insight, emotion, and wit, and an economy of style redolent of the novelist's art, the author's "old country" wisdom, descended from people who "felt things," assesses her father's "new country" quest to find the secret of existence, through his failed romances, his law career, his money, and the lonely metaphor of his midnight cigarettes. He finds nothing in the end, but the author plumbs that abyss to raise up meaning from her father's life, and the painful, defiant depth of her success, a tear in one eye and a cigarette on her lips as she takes up where he left off, is our great pleasure to share
.”

Poetry

 

First Prize - English
OUTSKIRTS
Sue Goyette,
Halifax, NS
Sue Goyette has published two books of poems:  The True Names of Birds (Brick Books) and Undone (Brick Books) and has been nominated for the Governor General's Award, the Pat Lowther Award, the Gerald Lampert Award, the Atlantic Poetry Award and the Dartmouth Book Award.  Her novel, Lures (HarperCollins) was short-listed for the Thomas Head Radall Atlantic Fiction Award.  She lives in Halifax and is currently renovating an old house and writing in a new room.  She teaches creative writing at Dalhousie University and leads a workshop for teenage writers at Alderney Gate Public Library.  She also participates in the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia's Mentorship and Writers in the Schools programs.      

Jury’s comments:
“In selecting “Outskirts,” the jury recognized the artistry of form and voice evident in the poet’s handling of extended metaphor and lineation. Through a series of radically shifting perspectives, the poet undertakes a strikingly original meditation on the intersection between the mundanity of the personal and vastness of the cosmological. We are brought to the very limits of our assumptions where we are able to see the world anew.”


 

Second Prize – English
INVERTEBRATE POEMS
Jim Johnstone,
Toronto, ON
Jim Johnstone grew up in Stouffville, Ontario. He holds a Masters of Science in Reproductive Physiology from the University of Toronto, where he was a two-time recipient of the E. J. Pratt Medal and Prize in Poetry. Guernica Editions published his first book of poetry, The Velocity of Escape, in 2008.

Jury’s comments:
“In Invertebrate Poems a lively, unpredictable consciousness takes us, line by line, through an intellectual archeology. From the little dipper, to the Beijing Olympics, to your pancreas, this is a journey of variety: of voice, subject, place, structure, and language. You will be surprised, at every corner, where you end up!”

Short story

 

First Prize - English
CIRCUS
Claire Battershill,
Toronto, ON
Claire Battershill is from Dawson Creek, B.C. She completed a BA (Hons) degree in English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford in 2007 and is now studying for a PhD in English Literature and Book History and Print Culture at the University of Toronto. Recently, she has published a review in the Times Literary Supplement and worked as a Research Assistant for Margaret Atwood's 2008 Massey Lectures, Payback. Her poetry has appeared in various Canadian journals, including The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead and PRISM: International.

Jury’s Comments:
“Circus has a wry, restrained, intelligent, and self-deprecating voice. And in its understated way it captures the odd and closeted reflections of a young woman teetering through the world.”


 

Second Prize - English
THE AMERICAN GIRL
Gitanjali Kolanad,
Toronto, ON
Gitanjali Kolanad was born in India, but grew up in Winnipeg and Thunder Bay. She is the author of the book Culture Shock: India and Penguin India is publishing her collection of short stories Sleeping with Movie Stars in 2009. She is the co-founder of IMPACT (Indian Martial and Performance Art Collective of Toronto), which brings the Indian martial art forms of kalaripayatu and baneti to young people in under served parts of the city.

Jury’s Comments:
“This is a beautifully written story with great depth and momentum to it, building to a startling climax and an interesting moment of self-revelation for the character. The female narrator's voice was fresh, irreverent and funny. Her sexual awareness of men from the lower castes, her brief encounter with the guide Raja was a refreshing change from usual demure, suffering portrait of South Asian women in fiction. The writer has an amazing eye for detail and the world of Indian classical music was brought alive to those of us who are foreign to it

2008

Récit



Premier prix - Français
SONAM
Jonathan Harnois,
Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Qc
Jonathan Harnois est né à Joliette en 1981. Il publie son premier roman Je voudrais me déposer la tête en 2005 aux Éditions Sémaphore. Claude Poissant a adapté l’œuvre pour le théâtre en 2007, alors qu’un documentaire s’est aussi inspiré de son univers. Une adaptation au cinéma est en cours. Sonam est sa première nouvelle.

Commentaires du jury  :
« Un récit d’une grande poésie. Le texte évoque un rituel funéraire qui eût pu choquer, mais dont la force, la beauté et la sagesse nous ramènent par la mort au sens profond de la vie. L’écriture enthousiaste nous envoûte telle une mélopée. »


 

Deuxième prix - Français
BLOU SUED CHOUZ
Guy Lalancette,
Chibougamau, Qc
Onzième enfant d’une bonne douzaine, Guy Lalancette a fait, selon ses propres termes, « les plus longues études qu’il a pu pour n’avoir pas à travailler ». Le pain manquant, il a trouvé dans l’enseignement un plaisir qu’il ne soupçonnait pas. Il a essuyé des refus pour ses manuscrits pendant 20 ans jusqu’à ce qu’un éditeur (VLB) le tire du lot. Guy Lalancette a déjà remporté un Prix littéraire Radio-Canada en 2007 dans la catégorie « Récit ».

Commentaires du jury  :
« Écrit dans une langue parlée totalement naturelle, d’une naïveté maîtrisée et d’une fine ironie. C’est l’histoire de l’appropriation d’un morceau d’Amérique dans un village bousculé par l’arrivée du rock’n’roll. Une description vivante, puissamment visuelle, d’une bande de jeunes dans un Québec au bord de la mutation. »

Poésie


Premier prix - Français
SIX HEURES VINGT
Judy Quinn,
Saint-Raphaël, Qc
Judy Quinn est née en 1974 à Québec. Elle a étudié la littérature à l'Université du Québec à Montréal et à l'Université de Toulouse-le-Mirail. Son premier recueil de poésie, L'émondé, paraissait en 2008 au Noroît. Elle a également publié quelques textes dans les cahiers littéraires Contre-jour et signe régulièrement des articles pour Nuit blanche.

Commentaires du jury  :
« Cette très belle suite de courts poèmes, d’une écriture retenue, toute en finesse, en prise directe sur le réel, raconte une histoire : celle d’une parturiente qui s’adresse à l’enfant qui va bientôt arriver dans la vie et ainsi dans un monde habité par la mort. Le résultat de ce voyage est l’évocation de ce fil ténu d’une expérience humaine qui est le lot de chacun. 


Second prix - Français
JE DEMANDE PARDON À L’ESPÈCE QUI BRILLE
Martine Audet,
Montréal, Qc
Née à Montréal en 1961, Martine Audet est l’auteure de plusieurs recueils de poèmes dont Orbites et Les Manivelles. Lauréate des prix Alphonse-Piché, Estuaire des Terrasses Saint-Sulpice et du prix Alain-Grandbois de l’Académie des lettres du Québec, elle occupe depuis peu le poste de directrice de la collection poésie aux éditions de l’Hexagone. Martine Audet est aussi aide-bibliothécaire à la bibliothèque du Plateau Mont-Royal.

Commentaires du jury  :
« Déjà le titre est à lui seul un poème. Comme chaque vers de cet ensemble de sizains peut se lire comme un tout. Nous sommes ici en présence d’une impressionnante réussite formelle, faite de rigueur et d’inventivité, où l’alternance constante entre le personnel et l’objectif constitue un éblouissant voyage au cœur de l’amour, sur fond d’univers tragique. 

Nouvelle

 

Premier prix - Français
MONEY EXPRESS
Bianca Joubert,
Montréal, Qc
Bianca Joubert est née à Montmagny en 1972 et vit à Montréal. Diplômée en journalisme, en création littéraire et en arts visuels, elle travaille aujourd’hui comme journaliste indépendante, tout en continuant de publier dans des revues littéraires et d’exposer ses tableaux régulièrement. Au plaisir d’écrire et de peindre s’ajoute l’irrépressible besoin de voyager, ce qu’elle fait le plus souvent possible. La diversité culturelle et le continent africain se trouvent au cœur de sa démarche.

Commentaires du jury  :
« Le jury a été touché par l’urgence qui jaillit de cette voix rescapée du drame de l’émigration clandestine. Scandé par des fragments des langues étrangères colonisatrices du Sénégal, ce texte devient un mantra qui, par la maîtrise de sa narration, dénonce notre indifférence à l’endroit de la tragédie de l’Afrique. 



Second prix - Français
À LA PÊCHE
Jean-Sébastien Trudel,
Québec, Qc
Jean-Sébastien Trudel est né en 1978 à Québec. Diplômé en littérature de l’Université de Laval et de l’Université de Genève, il est professeur au Département de littérature et communication du cégep de Trois-Rivières. Lauréat 2006 du concours d’XYZ pour sa nouvelle Le sixième doigt et lauréat 2001 du concours de l’AQWBJ pour La mort du libraire usagé, Jean-Sébastien Trudel a publié des textes dans des collectifs et des revues, dont XYZ et Moebius.

Commentaires du jury  :
« Un jeune homme, dans l’attente du coup de fil de ses camarades qui doivent l’initier à la pêche, se pratique dans la cour arrière de sa maison. En une seule phrase zigzagante comme la ligne lancée au-dessus du champ, le narrateur répète les gestes millénaires de la prédation, non sans s’inquiéter parfois de leur sens. Le texte, hameçonné de douceur ironique, d’attente sans précipitation, tire avec aisance et élégance le lecteur dans sa barque imaginaire.

 

2007 Winners

Creative Non-Fiction

First Prize - English
Shelagh Plunkett In a Garden
Pet monkeys, large dogs, wild parrots and trips upriver informed Shelagh Plunkett’s childhood where she and her siblings swam with piranhas, crocodiles and cayman. Not a bad start for a writer who now lives in Montreal.

Second Prize - English
Phyllis Nakonechny
Vidh
Phyllis Nakonechny (nee Gamracy) has been a daughter, a wife, a mother, and a high school English teacher. Since the death of her husband she has had to reinvent herself.  She has recently begun to pursue seriously her own writing and is working on a collection of prints, art books, and constructions exploring the connection between language and seeing.  She lives in Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

2007 Poetry

First Prize - English
Jeramy Dodds -Sundress, Fortress
Jeramy Dodds lives in Orono, Ontario. His poems have appeared in several Canadian and European journals. He is the winner of the 2006 Bronwen Wallace Award. Coach House Books will publish his first collection of poems in the fall of 2008.

Second Prize – English
Harold Rhenisch -Catching a Snare Drum at the Fraser’s Mouth

Harold Rhenisch has written from British Columbia’s grasslands for thirty-five years, exploring their spirit and history in poetry, fiction, and memoir. His most recent book is Return to Open Water: Poems Selected and New, 1979-2007. He lives in Campbell River, on northern Vancouver Island.

Short Story

First Prize - English
Lee Kvern –White

Lee Kvern’s first novella, Afterall was nominated for Trade Fiction in the Alberta Book Awards in 2006. She is a two-time short story winner of the CBC Alberta Anthology 2006/07. She lives in Okotoks, Alberta and is at work on her second novel.

Second Prize - English
Alex Leslie –Preservation

Alex Leslie was born in Vancouver. She has a short story forthcoming from Descant and is at work on her first collection. She is this year's winner of Prairie Fire's creative non-fiction contest and her piece will be published in that journal's summer issue.

LAURÉATS

Récit

Premier prix - Français
Chantal Gaudreault– La valise rouge
Chantal Gaudreault est née à Saint-Coeur-de-Marie au Lac-Saint-Jean en 1952. Après des études collégiales en design de mode et un baccalauréat en philosophie et en histoire de l’art, elle poursuit depuis 1980 une carrière de graphiste (conception et réalisation) pour la revue Inter, art actuel et, depuis 1990, pour Québec français et Études littéraires. Son texte Une baleine dans le ventre a également reçu le 2e prix cette année dans la catégorie Nouvelle.

Deuxième prix - Français
Guy Lalancette– Havre-les-chiens
Onzième enfant d’une bonne douzaine, Guy Lalancette a fait, selon ses propres termes, « les plus longues études qu’il a pu pour n’avoir pas à travailler ». Le pain manquant, il a trouvé dans l’enseignement un plaisir qu’il ne soupçonnait pas. Il a essuyé des refus pour ses manuscrits pendant 20 ans jusqu’à ce qu’un éditeur (VLB) le tire du lot.

Poésie

Premier prix - Français
André Roy - La science de l’adieu
Écrivain, poète et critique cinématographique et littéraire, André Roy vit à Montréal. Il a collaboré à plus de 50 revues littéraires et culturelles, tant américaines qu’européennes. Il a publié toute son œuvre poétique, plus de 25 titres, aux éditions des Herbes rouges. Il a obtenu déjà de nombreux prix prestigieux. Sa poésie est traduite en neuf langues. Son plus récent ouvrage de poésie est paru en 2007 sous le titre de Tout, rien, quelque chose.

Deuxième prix - Français
Tania Langlais– Je suis une espionne
Tania Langlais est née à Montréal en 1979. Elle publie son premier recueil de poésie à 20 ans, Douze bêtes aux chemises de l’homme (Les Herbes rouges, 2000) et remporte le prix Émile-Nelligan et le prix Jacqueline Déry-Mochon. Son deuxième recueil, La Clarté s’installe comme un chat (Les Herbes rouges, 2004) a été unanimement salué par la critique. Tania Langlais a remporté le premier prix des Prix littéraires Radio-Canada dans la catégorie Poésie en 2002.

Nouvelle

Premier prix - Français
Vital Gagnon– Louise

Vital Gagnon est né dans la vallée de la Matapédia en 1949. Après un intermède de six ans à Montréal, il s’installe à Sept-Îles sur la Côte-Nord. Autodidacte en tout, dramaturgie, poésie, prose, jeu, mise en scène et autres métiers de scène, il est également fonctionnaire, « pour l’alimentaire » [sic].

Deuxième prix - Français
Chantal Gaudreault – Une baleine dans le ventre
Chantal Gaudreault est née à Saint-Coeur-de-Marie au Lac-Saint-Jean en 1952. Après des études collégiales en design de mode et un baccalauréat en philosophie et en histoire de l’art, elle poursuit depuis 1980 une carrière de graphiste (conception et réalisation) pour la revue Inter, art actuel et, depuis 1990, pour Québec français et Études littéraires. Son texte La valise rouge a également reçu le 1er prix cette année dans la catégorie Récit.

 

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