Campus News

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

News Release

February 25, 2004

U of G grad wins CBC Literary Award

A University of Guelph graduate has won first place in one of Canada's largest and most prestigious literary competitions, the CBC Literary Awards.

Rob Winger, a 2003 MA graduate of U of G’s English program, received the top prize for poetry Tuesday night during a gala ceremony in Quebec. His award-winning entry was an excerpt from Muybridge’s Horse, a book in verse that he worked on as part of his master’s thesis.

“Winning the competition last night was incredibly flattering,” Winger said today. “It was amazing, fantastic news.”

The CBC Literary Awards were presented at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec. The gala was hosted by His Excellency John Ralston Saul and was broadcast live on CBC Radio One and La Châine culturelle de Radio-Canada. Three professional actors read parts of Winger’s submission for the radio program, and writer P.K. Page, one of the contest’s jurors, discussed the selection.

“I’ve actually been working on Muybridge’s Horse for four or five years now, most intensively while at U of G,” Winger said. “I’m hoping that the award might provide the opportunity to get it published sometime soon.”

Winger lives in Ottawa, where he divides his time among writing, working on a doctorate in cultural mediations at Carleton University and being a new father. While at U of G, he worked closely with Prof. Janice Kulyk Keefer, a previous winner of a CBC Literary Award. “It is wonderful that our creative writing faculty are helping to guide exceptional new talent,” said College of Arts dean Jacqueline Murray.

Alan Shepard, director of the School of English and Theatre Studies, added: “I am absolutely thrilled for him. Rob is continuing with the tradition of accomplishment in literary writing that has been well-established at Guelph.”

Winger also received a $6,000 cash prize, and his poetry will be featured on CBC Radio One’s Between the Covers April 12 to 16 and will be published in enRoute, Air Canada's inflight magazine.

Winger describes Muybridge’s Horse, as “a biography in verse.” The fictional work is based on the life of the renowned but eccentric British/American photographer, Eadweard Muybridge. “He was working on photography at a time when you had to be a chemist to take pictures because negatives weren’t invented yet,” Winger said.

“There are a lot of famous stories about him, especially around how he was brought in to take photos to settle a bet about the legs of trotting horses. He increased shutter speeds enough to make details more possible, which allowed him to take a photo that proved all four of a horse’s legs are off the ground at one point,” Winger said.

Muybridge was also known for his odd social life, which culminated in his killing the lover of his much-younger wife. “I’ve always been interested in photographic representation, what it means, and there was just something strange and intriguing about Muybridge,” he said.

Founded in 1979, the CBC Literary Awards have helped launch the careers of some of Canada's most successful authors. In addition to Kulyk Keefer, previous winners have included internationally acclaimed authors Michael Ondaatje and Carol Shields. Thousands of entries are received from across Canada each year and are judged by a blind-jury panel on the basis of quality of language, originality and presentation, as well as suitability for radio and print.

“Considering the calibre of this year’s jury (Page, George Bowering and Dionne Brand), just having my work read, let alone talked about and considered, by these writers was a great experience,” Winger said.

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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