on the Verge Writing Contest


What is on the Verge ?

on the Verge Writing Contest showcases and celebrates emerging UVic student voices with an annual theme under the broad rubric of equity, diversity and human rights. As a reformulation of the 10-year running Diversity Writing Awards, we carry forward the spirit of diversity under a broader umbrella and with a renewed spirit of creative exploration. The contest is co-sponsored by UVic Libraries and Equity and Human Rights (EQHR) with significant support from other units on campus.

How do I enter?

Writing Contest guidelines:
    • Entries to the writing categories must be attached as a Word or PDF document
    • Entries to the spoken word category must be attached as an audio or video file
    • Do not include your name or student number in your written submission; use the required entry form
  • In the body of your email, include the following information:
      • Full name
      • Student number
      • Title of submission
      • Category
      • Preferred contact email address
  • Enter one of the four categories below:

    • Poetry (150 lines maximum)
    • Fiction (1500 words maximum)
    • Non-fiction (1500 words maximum)
    • Spoken Word (3-minute maximum - video or audio file formats accepted)
  • Open to UVic students only
  • Only one entry per student will be accepted
  • Graphic novel/comic formats will be accepted
  • Visual and graphic works are eligible
  • Submissions must be original and unpublished
  • The 2020 celebrity judge is Sonnet L'Abbé

    Sonnet L'Abbé is a poet, songwriter and public speaker, and winner of the Bronwen Wallace Award and the bp Nichol Chapbook Award. Their first two poetry collections are A Strange Relief and Killarnoe, and in their most recent book, Sonnet’s Shakespeare, they overwrite all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Quill and Quire called Sonnet’s Shakespeare “one of the most audacious volumes of poetry to appear in this country.” L'Abbé was the editor of Best Canadian Poetry 2014 and was the 2015 Edna Staebler Writer in Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University. Dr. L'Abbé currently teaches creative writing and English at Vancouver Island University. Twitter/Insta/FB @sonnetlabbe


The 2020 theme is COMPASSION.

The Dalai Lama has said that “Compassion is concern for others – sincere compassion for others’ well-being founded on awareness of our own experience. Since it makes us happy when others show us affection and offer us help, if we show others affection [and] readiness to help they too will feel joy” (Twitter, July 5, 2019). In a time of global communications and realities, how do we practice compassion on scales small to global? What are the effects of the practice of compassion? What does it mean to have compassion for those with whom we share experiences, and those of widely varying identities and life paths? How far / how transformatively can individuals delve into the their potential for generating compassion and joy in others?

Tell us what compassion means to you!

Judging criteria

All entries will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Excellence and proficiency in writing and technique
  • Engagement with the theme in a meaningful way
  • Awareness of equity, diversity and human rights dimensions related to the theme
  • Fit within the word/time limits for submission


Contest winners will receive the following:

  • Cash prize in each category: $250 first place; $150 second place
  • Award certificate
  • Winning entries will be published on the UVic Libraries website, in DSpace (UVic Libraries' open access institutional repository) and highlighted on other UVic sites, including EQHR
  • Free enrollment in SPEAKING OVER/SPEAKING ABOUT/SPEAKING WITH, a writing workshop with Sonnet L'Abbé on February 14, 2020, 2-4 p.m., Room 210, Mearns Centre for Learning-McPherson Library >> In this 2-hour workshop, we will think about poetry as an act of language that happens in community. When and how does poetry address how some forms of writing "speak over" or "speak about" people? How can poetry "speak about" our experiences, which often involve others, responsibly? When we conceive of poetry as not just one person speaking to one reader, but an act of "speaking with" others, how can that inform our practice? Come prepared to do some writing!

Contact us

For more information email .

Thank you, sponsors!

A big thank you to the UVic Libraries, Equity and Human Rights (EQHR), VPAC and our fabulous Faculty and Departmental sponsors: Business, Continuing Studies, Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Humanities, Human and Social Development, Law, Science, Social Sciences & the UVic Writing Department.