On the morning of September 18th, a reader of my short story “The Most Human Part of You” raised questions of the similarity between it and Amy Hempel’s “The Dog of the Marriage.” Because my story had recently been short-listed for the Journey Prize, The Writers’ Trust of Canada and McClelland & Stewart were immediately informed of this development. On September 26th, McClelland and Stewart notified me I was no longer eligible for the Journey Prize and my work would no longer appear in The Journey Prize Anthology.
While living in Vancouver with my dog, I heard a documentary on CBC Radio about a pack of dogs employed for the purpose of chasing birds from the airport’s tarmac; I was working as a dog walker, spending about eight hours a day with a pack. This was the inspiration for my story, and the tone and structure was influenced by Hempel. I wrote the story three years ago and did not fully understand the implications of having modelled it off Hempel’s work. Given the author’s resonance for me, I should have both acknowledged her influence and double-checked that my material did not overlap hers.
I am deeply sorry for the situation in which I have put the Writer’s Trust, McClelland and Stewart, the Journey Prize judges, the Journey-nominated writers, Amy Hempel, and Maisonneuve Magazine. I have returned the fee to Maisonneuve that I had previously accepted. As I writer, I understand the weight of this matter and the degree of carelessness with which I wrote the story. I once again apologize to those affected.