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Kathleen May has been writing and reading since before she can remember and, since childhood, has explored a vast spectrum of projects through her passion for writing.
May works full-time at the women’s shelter in Huntsville, volunteers for Muskoka Parry Sound Sexual Assault Services as a mentor, and writes a bi-weekly column for Huntsville Doppler called She Speaks. She has also won the Muskoka Novel Marathon and written numerous books.
Her most recent accomplishment is being shortlisted for the CBC Nonfiction Prize. Her submission, The Long Driveway, was the first creative non-fiction piece she’s ever written.
As a child May was sexually abused by her then-stepfather.
“(The story) is a snapshot of a pivotal moment in my journey as a survivor of child sexual abuse. It was the day my family moved away from the abuser, therefore my last day as a powerless young person to deal with abuse in my own family,” she said.
“Everything since being selected has given me a lot to ‘pause’ for. I need to slow down and think about what it means for me as a writer, as a survivor, and someone who wants to change the world for the better,” said May.
More than 2,200 Canadians entered the annual CBC contest, 31 made the longlist and May is among the five to make the shortlist.
The winner will be chosen, by a panel of three judges, on Sept. 25, 2019 and will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
The four remaining finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts.
All finalists will have their work published on CBC Books.
If May wins, she hopes that publishers will ask about her other work because she has a whole arsenal of writing that she believes is ready for publishing.
“It feels like right now is a social turning point where women sharing their stories is changing the world for the better,” said May, “I’ve always encouraged other women to share and I’m finally doing it myself and I’m seeing the direct impact on women in our community.”
May says she thinks she has a good chance of winning the top prize.
“I really intend to say things how no one has ever said before,” she said. “I don’t like using clichés, I like putting my own new insight into language.”
All of the CBC Nonfiction Prize shortlisted stories are available to read online here.
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