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2016 (Volume 28)


This year we witness not only our contest winners, but many of our other writers dealing with reminiscing and regretting.


In S.J. MacLean's story "Thirty and Out," Ella remembers working with molten steel in a foundry during WWII, but an explosion on a ship in the port forever changes her life. "'Sooner or later the truth will come out, Ella. It always does,' says James."


Laura Apol's poem, "Midwinter, My Mother," is about loss and sadness. The mix of emotions that complicate personal grief come to be experienced against the larger backdrop of nature, "how water and time / grind down the world," and these changing lights and shadows are rendered with emotional restraint, economy of language, precision of imagery, and the pulse, pattern, and resonance of music." 


In "On Kindness," Laura Distelheim recalls the author George Saunders telling the 2013 Syracuse University graduating class that he regrets failures of kindness. "So yes, I'm right there beside George Saunders in counting kindness among my greatest regrets."


The American Transcendalist Henry David Thoreau had his own "take" on regret. "Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh."


As readers, we want you to tend and cherish the works in The Briar Cliff Review and to live afresh as you do so. Enjoy.


2013 Table of Contents PDF

C0VER: "ReBeckett" / Bob Allen /
mixed media on canvas


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"On Kindness"

By Laura S. Distelheim

Distelheim is an author and social activist from Highland Park, Ill., whose essays have been featured in publications including The Chicago Tribune Magazine, Whetstone, DoubleTake and Pleiades. Among numerous awards for her work, Distelheim received a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for her “Grace Notes,” a collection of profiles on people who found the strength to overcome challenges of poverty, illness, displacement, discrimination and persecution. In 2003, she created Neighbor to Neighbor, an organization that combats hunger among and creates scholarship opportunities for low-income children in her community.

Contest Winners




"Thirty and Out"

S.J. MacLean

MacLean is an author of short stories from Danville, Calif. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in literary reviews and newspapers including Inkwell, The Pennsylvania Literary Review, Contra Costa Times, Healthcare News, San Ramon Valley Herald and Tri-Valley Herald. MacLean holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Southern Maine.








My Mother"

By Laura Apol

Apol, of Lyons, Mich., is an associate professor of literacy at Michigan State University, with a focus on children’s/young adult literature and creative writing. She has authored several collections of her own poems, “Crossing the Ladder of Sun” (winner of the Oklahoma Book Award for Poetry), “Celestial Bodies” (winner of the Overleaf Chapbook Manuscript Competition), “Falling into Grace” and “Requiem, Rwanda” – her newest full-length collection, drawn from her work using writing to facilitate healing among survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

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