Langley writer tops field of 1700 to win 2022 CBC Nonfiction Prize


Susan Cormier earns her job as a beekeeper for an award-winning play

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Langley author Susan Cormier’s story Advice to a New Beekeeper was named the 2022 CBC Non-Fiction Prize Winner on September 22.

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Presented by CBC Books, the competition attracted 1,700 submissions of stories of up to 2,000 words. Cormier will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, publish her story with CBC Books, and have the opportunity to participate in a two-week writing residency at the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity.

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Langley’s Cormier, whose work has appeared in publications such as Atlantis Women’s Studies Journal, B&A New Fiction and several anthologies, is a beekeeper and co-owner of CR Apiary in Langley.

“First a team of 12 judges, then a second team of three judges picked my play to win. When I think about the logistics that led to my announcement’s victory today, it feels like I’m standing at the edge of the ocean or looking up at the stars – I feel very small and very large at the same time. It’s both stimulating and humbling,” Cormier said in an email.

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The jury of Marcello Di Cintio, Sharon Butala and Jenna Butler said in a statement about Cormier’s advice to a new beekeeper:

“Advice to a New Beekeeper is a polished play that seamlessly blends scientific fact and lyrical prose, capturing the reader’s attention from the opening line. The author navigates the terminology of the hive with known skill and without a word out of place, much like the bees are carefully employed in various essential tasks within the functioning of a colony. Intelligent, imaginative and absolutely gorgeous, Advice for a New Beekeeper is consistently captivating.”

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What made the win a little sweeter was the fact that Cormier had another connection with writer/judge Butler, who is a veteran beekeeper and wrote a collection of essays called Revery: A Year of Bees.

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I’ve been listening to CBC since I was born. When I was growing up, it was always playing at our house. So of course I’m excited! But beyond that, the fact that one of the final judges is an established beekeeper herself who has been nominated for important awards is something I wasn’t aware of when I entered this competition. It’s one thing to speak with authority and confidence to an audience unfamiliar with the subject you are discussing; it’s a whole different thing to be taken seriously when your audience is an expert themselves. It’s one thing when people say, “This is good writing”; but to have an expert in the field say “this is good writing AND this is good information” is a great honor.

Overall it was a good year for BC non-fiction as three of the other five finalists for the annual Your House award were by Cayenne Bradley of Victoria; Seh Woo, My Teeth by Kerissa Dickie of Fort Nelson and Tek by YS Lee who lives in Kingston, Ontario but was raised in BC

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Jane Ozkowski of Bloomfield, Ont. Was the fifth finalist with her essay Storkatorium.

CBC Books also announced Simon Brousseau as the winner of the French Grand Prize for La signature du père. All finalists’ stories can be read at CBCBooks.ca.


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