By Jensen, Randy on September 30, 2020.
University of British Columbia (UBC) graduate student Sara de Waal has won the first University of Lethbridge Bridge Prize national short story writing competition, earning a $7,500 first-place award from a pool of 340 submissions.
Her touching and poignant tale “Cecilia and Richard” won the favour of the jury panel and elicited praise for its construction and detail.
“The most carefully constructed story we received, beautiful deployment of metaphor, especially when we’re told that the father has no energy for metaphor. This is a language story, filled with effective detail, colours painting words and consequences,” said juror Aritha Van Herk, an Alberta-based author.
The Bridge Prize was established in 2019 by the U of L’s School of Liberal Education and Vancouver-based alumnus and donor Terry Whitehead (BA ’94). It is Canada’s only national short story competition open exclusively to post-secondary graduate and undergraduate students studying at Canadian universities and colleges. Its $10,500 in prize money makes it the richest student writing competition in Canada and among the largest for any short story competition in the country.
In addition to de Waal’s work, three finalists received $1,000 for their entries. Ahmad Danny Ramadan, also of UBC, was recognized for “The Miraculous Return of Khaled from the Dead”; Evan Neilsen, University of Calgary, for “Harriet”; and James Cawkwell, University of Alberta, for his work “Tadpole.”
“Congratulations to Sara and the finalists for their creative and memorable stories,” said Whitehead. “A special thank you to our local jury and main jury for their energy, time and enthusiasm to support the next generation of Canadian literary talent. The support of The Walrus and Munro’s Books was so instrumental in generating awareness and excitement of the Bridge Prize. We look forward to a long partnership.”
De Waal is a writer and teacher from Abbotsford, B.C., who will graduate from UBC’s Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing in November. Her first picture book, “48 Grasshopper Estates,” is projected for release through Annick Press in April 2021. When she’s not busy writing, de Waal works as a primary music and art teacher where her students constantly inspire her to keep making art.
Submissions for the 2022 Bridge Prize competition will be accepted beginning Jan. 21, 2021. The main jury for the 2022 competition will be announced in November.