Top 10 Canadian Writing Awards - No. 1

Tree in upper left corner...

Last and Least-Deserving

CBC Literary Award
While in Spain this summer (2011- in part for my Book Launch - click here), I received an email, notifying me that I had won the CBC Literary Awards Summer Challenge – the Great Canadian Post Card Contest.
ery cool

- as it came as I was endeavouring to promote a satirical book and pursue my aspiration to be a "witty" writer.  
The CBC contest invited submissions of previously unpublished images of a Canadian scene with a 25-word caption.   Here is my entry.

 Surreal Lake Louise
"Took this photo standing on my head at hotel room window. Got dizzy, ignored heat and grizzly warnings, walked down to mountain top,
touched snow."
The photo (above) was taken at dawn at Lake Louise, Alberta in September 2009.   I joked in my Post Card message about standing on my head and submitted it upside down (see the tree in the upper left corner) to highlight the surreal symmetry of the view, but we really did take this picture through the glass from our hotel room at the Chateau Lake Louise.  It is “surreal;” you feel that you are standing inside the Great Canadian Post Card.  Lake Louise really is a place that lives up to its image and hype.

Here it is right side up

When I was young and working in the Rocky Mountains over 30 years ago, my buddy and I were chased by a bear right up a tree where we sat shaking for a few hours.  

Taken - at a distance - few days later at Lake Louise
So, while I was not upside down for this photo, it is true that I had to be a little light-headed to ignore the bear warnings and hike up to the Plain of Six Glaciers above the Lake in the photo, but was definitely worth it. 

It’s just awesome up there.

 Why I am undeserving ...

 It is great to win the contest and promote this part of Canada, but I am not sure that I am very deserving.  Setting aside Mark Twain’s “didn't have time to write a short letter” point, it is hard to think of yourself as a worthy “Literary Award winner” on the basis of  just 25 words.
More important, my wife Michèle really deserves the credit for the photo: setting it up, making sure we took a shot every few minutes as the sun rose over Lake Louise that hot September day.  She will definitely get the Sony eReader and books that constituted the CBC contest prize.

In fact, most of the comments from the contest judges focused on the photo not the "literary" element .

  • "Beyond being visually stunning, it almost feels like a puzzle to me - how did his viewpoint in the hotel make this image? It took me somewhere, and I liked that." 
  • "I really like the style of the second sentence of the caption: Got dizzy, ignored heat and grizzly warnings, walked down to mountain top, touched snow. It sounds almost like a telegram. And the image is simply amazing -- the true Great Canadian Postcard."
  •  " capture(d) something very mysterious in the interplay of shadows and light that created this mirror image - it's the work of a pro, and makes for a bona fide Canadian Postcard. I want to be there too, in the immensity, poetry and power of nature." 
  •  "I liked the sense of wilderness that is so quintessentially Canadian -- the sense of being the one lucky person witnessing this amazing natural beauty. And the little hint of snow in a summer postcard - both in the visual and the caption - I find very Canadian too!"

Why it all worked out OK ... 

Maybe, the Great Powers that create heavenly places like Lake Louise sensed that I did not deserve such recognition anyway as they limited my time in the CBC publicity sun to just a few days.

My winning the Great Canadian Post Card Contest coincided with the launch of a rebranding of the CBC Literary Awards as the more inclusive and less stuffy CBC Canada Writes.”

Probably, a good move on CBC’s part, but now all the old links, like the one announcing my contest win, have been unplugged and are now not accessible other than as cached websites, and my absence from Canada at the time lost us the opportunity to promote the winning Post Card on the new CBC site. So, I can’t point to an official live website as evidence of my 25-word Literary Award credential.

Fortunately, the compassionate people at CBC Canada Writes were kind enough to provide me with a screen grab as a souvenir.  It is also neat to see that social networking sites including that of the Banff National Park managed to pull the image off the screen before it disappeared from the live web forever.

So, it now occurs to me that I am not only the least-deserving, but the last "CBC Literary Awards" contest winner.  Right now as they phase out the old and bring in the new, CBC is redirecting all relevant web searches to the new "Canada Writes" site. 

But maybe someday, when a future grad student, completing a paper on the history of Canadian literature, googles "CBC Literary Awards," this blog will come up as the first and perhaps only hit. 

I, my 25 words, and inverted photo will have secured a place in Canadian literary history.