Valda Organ is longlisted for the CBC Nonfiction Prize 2021 for 1975.
The 2021 CBC Nonfiction Prize winner will receive $ 6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on Radio-Canada books and have the opportunity to attend a two-week writing residency at Banff Center for Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $ 1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on Radio-Canada books.
The shortlist will be announced on September 22 and the winner will be announced on September 29.
If you’re interested in the CBC Literary Awards, the New CBC 2022 Award is open for nominations until October 31.
About the Valda organ
Valda Organ is a full time writer currently living in St. John’s. She is the former editor-in-chief of Tuck Magazine, an online publication devoted to the arts and global human rights literature. His interviews, articles and book reviews have appeared in places such as Herizons, Reader’s Digest and Hercircle. His poetry and fictional short films have been the subject of anthologies in various print publications such as the Cuffer Anthology, Vwa, Sibling Rivalry Press, and Unlinked Content. In 2013, she participated as a panelist at the 40th anniversary of the Writers’ Union of Canada conference in Ottawa, to discuss the growth of independent publishing.
Entry in five words
“Trauma, survival and complicated love.”
The source of inspiration for the story
“My mother’s undiagnosed mental illness and its profound effects on my life. This particular period in my early teens has been broadened and is now part of a memory of our years together. Retrospect is a byproduct of aging and as such I have the opportunity to view certain events with emotional clarity and compassion and to share them with readers. However, I chose that night in 1975 because that was when the dynamic between my mother and I. A buried trauma coupled with the upheaval caused by my father’s alcoholism became the catalyst for my mother’s mental illness to be finally diagnosed. My experience was not unique, it was just an incident which, when linked to others, tells the full story of the abandonment experienced by all children of the mentally ill.
An excerpt from 1975
After the horror that unfolded, I did not budge from my perch on the stairs. I was like a bird in a tree witnessing an activity that did not seem to involve me. No one was looking or looking at me, I just didn’t exist and although they had the key, I noticed that they forgot to lock the door behind them.
I was like a bird in a tree witnessing an activity that did not seem to involve me.
That night my mother was admitted to the psychiatric ward. The gun was taken by my sister’s boyfriend and destroyed. After leaving her in the hospital, my father fled to his brother’s apartment, calling me the next day to explain my mother’s current situation. According to him, she was crazy, incoherent and seeing her again would be useless. There was a brief silence before he announced he was definitely returning to Nova Scotia. A last loose goodbye was said and the phone broke. I was 13 years old. I had no money, no food other than a box of mac and cheese, two slices of bread, and a bottle of ketchup.
The winner of 2021 CBC Nonfiction Award will receive $ 6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on Radio-Canada books and participate in a two-week writing residency at Banff Center for Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $ 1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on Radio-Canada books.