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Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction

By bruceg
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A list of books that have won the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction, administered by the Faculty of Arts at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Red Star Tattoo

Red Star Tattoo

My Life as a Girl Revolutionary
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
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Excerpt

A canvas backpack.
   A sleeping bag. 
   A drinking cup that collapsed flat into a little case.
   Two matching wooden bowls, one for Dale and one for me. 
   A combination fork and spoon. The spork. 
   My teddy bear. 
   Some clothes. 
   A toothbrush. 
   A small case, hand embroidered by my mother, to hold my "travelling papers." 
   Pounds and pounds of homemade granola, made the night before and packed in plastic bags. Slightly burned. 
   I remember what we packed for the journey. 
   But what did my parents say to me when it was time to go—goodbye? See you soon? See you later? 
   When the drivers slowed down to look at us, I tried to catch their eye. Sometimes I wiggled my outstretched thumb slightly, optimistically, and sometimes I tried to look sad and hopeful. Anything to imprint this scene in their mind: little girl sitting on a grey canvas backpack, young man with a guitar case, standing by the highway. Anything to slow them down until curiosity or sympathy made them stop.

Everyone knew that a kid was better than a dog or a woman for hitchhiking. At the Sweetgrass commune, where me and Dale, my parents, and another dozen or so people lived, everyone pitched in, did their share to keep things going. This was something I could do. I was eight years old and already an experienced hitchhiker, a travelling partner for anyone who needed luck and company on the road. I’d also sung in the Sweetgrass band that played folk and gospel songs at old folks’ homes and rock and roll at high school dances. I’d helped sell wildflowers, daisies and goldenrod and fireweed tied up in twine, to tourists in the city. But hitchhiking was the thing I did best. Up and down country roads into town, or the hundred-mile trip from Lennoxville to Montreal and back. 
   I was Dale’s plan to get west cheap and in a hurry. Dale was in his early twenties and from Los Angeles. He and another Californian played the lead guitars in the band. They’d helped start Sweetgrass, but Quebec winters and the winding down of the Vietnam War had them longing for home. His friend had already left with another commune member who was caught up in a custody battle for her baby. Dale and I were the second wave. My parents and a few others would be following soon. Behind us was Sweetgrass. Ahead of us was California and a new life. But in between was this long stretch of road. 
   By day three I could feel Dale starting to wonder if this highway was more than my small charm could manage. We’d spent hours waiting to catch the next ride. I knew it didn’t help to look too miserable or be crying. No one wanted to deal with that kind of kid. Instead I sat by the side of the road with my teddy bear and sucked my thumb, trying to look younger and cuter than I really was. 
   To keep us entertained, Dale played his guitar and sang. He sang the Beatles and Dylan but the old country songs were my favourites. 

   Take me home, my heart is heavy and my feet are sore 
   Take me home, I don’t wanna roam no more
I liked that song, I liked the idea that what we were doing was roaming, and that when we got to California our roaming days would be over.

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Why it's on the list ...
Winner of the 2017 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction
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The Prison Book Club

The Prison Book Club

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback

A daring journalist goes behind bars to explore the redemptive power of books with bikers, bank robbers, and gunmen
     An attack in London left Ann Walmsley unable to walk alone down the street, and shook her belief in the fundamental goodness of people. A few years later, when a friend asked her to participate in a bold new venture in a men's medium security prison, Ann had to weigh her curiosity and desire to be of service against her anxiety and fear.
     But she signed on, and for eight …

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Birding with Yeats
Why it's on the list ...
Winner of the 2015 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction
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Hot Art

Hot Art

Chasing Thieves and Detectives through the Secret World of Stolen Art
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook
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Why it's on the list ...
Winner of the 2012 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction
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Into the Abyss

Into the Abyss

How a Deadly Plane Crash Changed the Lives of a Pilot, a Politician, a Criminal and a Cop
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
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Why it's on the list ...
Winner of the 2013 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction
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Letters from the Lost

Letters from the Lost

A Memoir of Discovery
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : holocaust
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Why it's on the list ...
Winner of the 2011 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction
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A Very Capable Life

A Very Capable Life

The Autobiography of Zarah Petri
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : women
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Why it's on the list ...
Winner of the 2010 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction
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Burning Down the House

Burning Down the House

Fighting Fires and Losing Myself
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback Hardcover
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Why it's on the list ...
Winner of the 2009 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction
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