Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

March 07, 2003

U of G grad wins CBC Literary Award

University of Guelph graduate Joanna Cockerline has won second place in one of Canada's largest and most prestigious literary competitions, the CBC Literary Awards. First prize was awarded to former Guelph resident Leon Rooke, author of 28 books and founder of the Eden Mills Writers' Festival.

"I'm incredibly honoured that CBC chose my story," said Cockerline, who is a BA and MA graduate of U of G's English literature program. "Having a panel of respected judges select my piece was really validating. Finding out that a writer as accomplished as Leon Rooke won first was extremely flattering. This has really been a tremendous boost for my career."

The Feb. 25 awards gala was hosted by CBC's Eleanor Wachtel at the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa/Hull and was broadcast live. Cockerline's winning short story, Blank Spaces, was read by professional actors on the CBC radio shows Richardson's Roundup and Between the Covers March 4. The story will be published in En Route, Air Canada's inflight magazine.

Founded in 1979, the CBC Literary Awards have helped launch the careers of some of Canada's most successful authors. Previous winners have included internationally acclaimed authors Michael Ondaatje and Carol Shields.

Blank Spaces emerged out of the novel Cockerline is currently completing, which is the story of a friendship between a white Canadian woman travelling in Kenya and an HIV-positive Nairobi sex worker. Both works of fiction were originally inspired by Cockerline's travels and volunteer work in Kenya.

Although Cockerline said this award is the highlight of her writing career so far, her fiction and poetry have also been published in the literary magazines Room of One's Own, The Fiddlehead, Pagitica, Writual and Diviners.

While at Guelph, she worked extensively with English professor Janice Kulyk Keefer, a previous winner of a CBC Literary Award, and this year's Giller Prize winner, Austin Clarke.

Cockerline recently won a scholarship to the Humber School for Creative Writing, which enabled her to study via one-on-one correspondence with Booker Prize-winning author Peter Carey. Carey said he is extremely excited about Cockerline's talent and not at all surprised that she has been recognized with this award.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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