A letter from Briarpatch’s outgoing editor, Saima

Dear Briarpatch readers,

In January 2023, I took a year-long leave of absence from my job as editor of Briarpatch. By that point, I’d worked at the magazine for five years, published 29 issues, won two National Magazine Awards, and seen the magazine’s readership nearly double. I needed some time to rest, take stock of what I’d done so far, and scout for new ideas.

I’ve since decided that I won’t be returning to the editor role at Briarpatch in 2024. It was not an easy decision, because Briarpatch means the world to me. But I need to stick around in Toronto and put my time and energy into new projects. I’m happy to be leaving the magazine in interim editor Sophie Jin’s capable hands, and potentially welcoming a new editor in 2024.

To Briarpatch readers:

To most people, a magazine is just another piece of mail. Briarpatch’s readers are different: they know this magazine is a community. I heard from readers who told me they’d been attending Briarpatch events since they were little kids, a few who said that they were currently reading Briarpatch aloud to their newborn babies, and one reader who told me that he would avenge my death if I was assassinated by the oil industry. When I published an article that wasn’t up to your standards, you let me know. When I stuck my neck out to publish left-wing commentary that would have gotten me fired from most mainstream Canadian publications, you backed me up. When we reached out for more money to make a special issue, you donated. Thank you for your enormous loyalty, generosity, and attention. I’m looking forward to joining your ranks.

To Briarpatch contributors:

Briarpatch’s pages are full of work by the most intelligent, creative, and principled writers and artists in the country. When I say Briarpatch punches above its weight, I mean it. There’s absolutely no reason for this little, independent, cash-strapped magazine to be as incisive or beautiful or influential as it is, except for the fact that time and time again Briarpatch’s contributors decide to offer the magazine their extraordinary talents. It was the greatest honour that you trusted me to polish up your work and send it out into the world. Thank you so much.

To Briarpatch’s Regina community:

When I appeared in Regina in 2018, not knowing a soul, you folks picked me up from the airport, fed me, housed me, invited me to your meetings and parties, stuffed envelopes with me, and put me to work. I am in awe of the fierce and loving ways you show up to take care of each other, and to fight for a better city and world – it’s like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I love you guys and I’ll miss you so much. Like all good Regina expats, I’ll see you at Folk Fest.

This isn’t goodbye. As long as we all keep making and supporting independent, left-wing media, I’m sure our paths will cross again. (Right now I’m working on research about Indigenous jurisdiction at Infrastructure Beyond Extractivism, and helping edit a new and exciting Toronto magazine called The Grind – check it out!) We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but I know I’m in good company.

Long live Briarpatch!

With gratitude and in solidarity,

Saima Desai

Former editor, Briarpatch Magazine, from 2018-2023