Briarpatch is accepting submissions of original, unpublished writing and photography for our tenth annual Writing in the Margins contest. This year the categories are creative non-fiction, poetry, and documentary photography. Have your work seen by judges Larissa Lai (creative non-fiction), Sonnet L'Abbé (poetry), and Pat Kane (photography).

Briarpatch is seeking fresh writing and photography that brings to life issues of political, social, and environmental justice. We want writing and photos from the edges – from new creators who have something important to say, or from longtime creators who can show us a new way of seeing things.

Winning entries in each category will receive cash prizes of $500 and will be published in Briarpatch, an award-winning, nationally distributed magazine of culture and politics. Runners-up in each category will receive cash prizes of $150 and will be published online.

The deadline for submissions is December 1, 2020. Entrance costs $25 and includes a one-year subscription to Briarpatch (entrance details are below, and we have a limited number of bursaries for low-income writers and photographers).


Photo by Monique de St. Croix

This year’s creative non-fiction entries will be judged by Larissa Lai.

Larissa Lai has authored three novels, The Tiger Flu, Salt Fish Girl, and When Fox Is a Thousand; two poetry books, sybil unrest (with Rita Wong) and Automaton Biographies; a chapbook, Eggs in the Basement; and a critical book, Slanting I, Imagining We: Asian Canadian Literary Production in the 1980s and 1990s. A recipient of the Astraea Foundation Emerging Writers' Award, and a finalist for seven others, she holds a Canada Research Chair at the University of Calgary, where she directs The Insurgent Architects' House for Creative Writing.

This year’s poetry entries will be judged by Sonnet L'Abbé.

Sonnet L’Abbé is a mixed-race Black writer, professor, musician and organizer of Afro-Guyanese, Indo-Guyanese, and Québecois ancestry, and the author of three collections of poetry: A Strange Relief, Killarnoe, and Sonnet’s Shakespeare (which was a Quill and Quire Book of The Year for 2019). L’Abbé lives on Vancouver Island and is a professor of Creative Writing and English at Vancouver Island University.

This year’s photography entries will be judged by Pat Kane.

Pat Kane is a photographer in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Pat takes a documentary approach to the stories impacting Northerners, with a special focus on Indigenous issues and empowerment. He’s the co-founder and president of the Far North Photo Festival, a platform to help elevate the work of photographers in underrepresented parts of Northern Canada. He’s also part of the photo collectives Natives Photograph and Boreal Collective, and is a 2020 World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass Nominee. Pat identifies as mixed Indigenous/settler and is a proud Algonquin Anishinaabe member of the Timiskaming First Nation (Quebec).


We will select one winner from each category. Each winner will receive $500, and their submissions will be published in the May/June 2020 issue of Briarpatch, following a collaborative editing process.

Honourable mentions will receive $150, and their submissions will be featured online alongside contest winners at

The best local entry (from an entrant based in Regina and surrounding area) will receive a special prize package of books.

How to enter

Creative non-fiction
Creative non-fiction submissions should not exceed 2,000 words. Please attach your submission as a Word or PDF document. Your submission should include the title of your work, but in order to ensure fairness and anonymity in judging, please do not indicate your name on the submission itself.

Poetry entries are limited to one poem that should not exceed two pages in length. Please attach your submission as a Word or PDF document. Your submission should include the title of your work, but in order to ensure fairness and anonymity in judging, please do not indicate your name on the submission itself.

Please submit between 2 and 7 original, unpublished photos that document an issue of social, environmental, or political justice. The photos can all be from a single event or location, or they can be from multiple locations and events.

Please also provide either:

  • one artist statement of up to 350 words, to accompany the entire set of photos
  • a caption of up to 50 words to accompany each photo

Photographers that seek to document the struggles of marginalized communities are often guilty of voyeurism or fairweather involvement in that community. We’re interested in photos that show a deep and enduring engagement with the issue, land, event, or community that you’re documenting.

Photographs must be digital files – we will not be accepting print submissions by mail. The photograph does not need to have been taken with a digital camera; scans of negatives, transparencies, or photographic prints are acceptable. Watermarks are not acceptable. All digital files must be 20 megabytes or smaller, must be in JPEG or .jpg format, and must be at least 1,200 pixels wide (if a horizontal image) or 1,200 pixels tall (if a vertical image).


The deadline for entry is December 1, 2020. Any entries received after midnight Central Standard Time on this date will not be considered.

We will confirm receipt of your entry within one week. Winners will be notified in January 2021, and will be announced on the website after January.

Submission details

Please e-mail your entries to contest[at] The body of your e-mail should include the following information:

  1. Entrant’s full name
  2. E-mail address
  3. Mailing address (for your subscription!). If you are already receiving Briarpatch, please indicate whether you’d like us to renew your subscription for one year, or give this subscription as a gift (in which case we’ll need the address of your gift recipient).
  4. Phone number
  5. Submission title
  6. Category (creative non-fiction, poetry, or photography)
  7. How you intend to pay (cheque, online, phone), or if you’re requesting a bursary

In order to reach new subscribers, Briarpatch occasionally trades its mailing list with like-minded organizations. If you prefer not to be included in these trades, please indicate this in your e-mail.

Entry fee

Your $25 entry fee gets you a full year’s subscription to Briarpatch (regularly $29.95). This fee helps to cover the costs of organizing, promoting, and administrating the contest, as well as the cash prizes.

Please note that U.S. submissions cost $40 and other international submissions cost $45 to cover the additional costs of postage for your subscription.

We know that – especially for poor and working-class, disabled, queer and trans, and racialized people – a $25 entry fee can be prohibitively expensive. So we’ve created a bursary that will cover the cost of entry for 10 low-income writers and artists living in Canada. We will give out bursaries on a first-come, first-served basis for those who request them. People who receive a bursary to cover the cost of entry will also still receive a year-long subscription to Briarpatch. If you would like to claim a bursary, please say so in your submission email. We will reply to you by email to let you know if there is a bursary available for you.

To pay your entry fee online with your credit card or PayPal account, fill out the form below:

Entrant location
Your full name

Payment can also be made by cheque or cash (mailed separately with your name clearly identified), or over the phone with your credit card at 1-866-431-5777.

Please submit only one entry per person.

Other details

Entries must be original, unpublished, and not submitted simultaneously to other publications or contests.

Entrants must agree to be bound to the contest rules. The decisions of our keen-eyed judges are final.

Winners may be requested to engage in a collaborative editing process with Briarpatch editors prior to publication.

Thank you to the Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG) for their support of the contest.