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Cody Caetano: Creative Nonfiction Contest Editorial

By happenstance, I picked Anne Marie Todkill’s “Storm Damage” as this year’s winner shortly after a citywide July storm cracked the trunk of a much-loved dozy Manitoba Maple out back. However, it matters little whether one has recently encountered and grieved a fallen tree, when it comes to this axiomatic and spellbinding piece. Todkill’s eulogy for a basswood undone by a Gilgameshing derecho’s “unmethodical and ghoulish mangling” will beguile anyone lucky enough to read it. A refined and decisive writer whose language bears the armour of a citizen scientist living off-grid, Todkill pirouettes from an especially devastating woe into a myriad of compounding historical, moral, existential, and very real, very right-now questions and dilemmas surrounding the undoing of a place, and of place. While making no claim to have found the optimal frame, answer, or solution for today’s “monumental forms” of terrestrial ecocide, this essay gets pretty close in its brilliant attempt.