What better way to celebrate Throwback Thursday (#tbt) then with PRISM international’s 2015 Creative Non-fiction Contest Judge Russell Wangersky’s essay “Mechanics of Injury”, which won PRISM’s 2004 Creative Non-fiction Contest. Contest judge, award winner, and UBC professor Andreas Schroeder called the essay “a beautifully calibrated, finely honed account of a firefighter’s experiences in three dimensions.” Below, we’ve included the first two paragraphs of Wangersky’s evocative essay to whet your appetite retrieved from our recent digitization project.
I don’t fight fires anymore. My heart still judders in my chest when I hear the trucks coming, when I look out the windows at the front of the house as the big pumpers rumble by, their sirens tearing the air like cloth ripped into rags. Sometimes the driver looks up at the house, sees me and pulls the horn chain, and the twin air horns—a jagged half-octave apart to jar the ears—rip and echo across the valley with a transient greeting I like to believe is a half salute.
It would be simpler if I had been permanently burned—and I have been burned, in a diesel explosion that cost me my eyebrows and all the hair inside my nose, leaving a ragged red pattern of angry third-degree burns across my forehead. If I had been seriously hurt, there would be a visible reason, a badge that wears like an honourable discharge. But nothing is simple. (10)
To read the rest of “Mechanics of Injury”, click here. This essay is also a great example of the kind of submissions we’re looking for for our 2015 Creative Non-fiction Contest: evocative details, a strong sense of voice, and engaging material. We’re excited to read your personal essays and memoirs! If you haven’t submitted yet, do so here!
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