Former Drumheller woman Carla Powell is making an impression on page and has been longlisted for a CBC literary award.
Powell, daughter of Doug and Jean, who now resides in Nova Scotia, has made the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for her work called Unrequited Love. This is the second time she has been up for this award she and was shortlisted in 2017 for her work, The Road to Machu Picchu Starts at 385 lbs.
“It is a phenomenal honour to be chosen twice, especially seeing that the selection process is done blind. So, I could be Michael Ondaatje and they wouldn't know,” Powell tells the Mail. “The first time I was selected, I was so shocked. I had submitted a piece that I wrote in under four hours, on a whim and so when I got short-listed I considered it a serious stroke of dumb luck. But to be chosen a second time has made me think that I might actually have some talent in terms of writing.”
She tells the Mail, Unrequited Love is about her mother.
“It is the story of a daughter's (me) quest to better understand her mother. I am 50 years old now and find that I am remembering my mother at this age. I would have been 16 years old when mom was 50. When we are younger, we don't necessarily think about our parents as being anything other than parents. There's a desire in me to understand mom as her own person, before she met my dad and had kids,” she said. “The story is about me tracing some of the steps in her early life to see if I can better understand her, and ultimately not coming up with the answers I was looking for, but, instead, more questions.”
Her style of writing is raw and honest.
“If I write something, I don't hold back on the feelings behind it, no matter how awkward or difficult they may be. That's the power of non-fiction - true story is evocative. People yearn to understand what the human experience is like for their friends, neighbours, family...and that creates connection,” she said
The longlist includes 35 writers from across Canada, taken from 1,700 submissions. It will soon be winnowed down to a shortlist by September 24, and the winner announced on October 1. The winner will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council of the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books, and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.