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2018 (Volume 30)


Welcome to our 30th year. Since our inception in 1988, The Briar Cliff Review has evolved from a college literary art magazine to a regional and then a national / international magazine, publishing writers and artists from 49 states and fifteen countries. Over the years we have published the works of 1,819 writers and artists, and have been a workshop for 348 students of editing and graphic design. In this day of print venues folding up and closing their doors and of deciphering fake news from real news, we have kept going, telling the truths that literature and art can tell. In the fall we sponsored our 22nd contest and had hundreds of entries. Thanks to all who entered and entrusted us with your work.


Poetry editor Jeanne Emmons said of our poetry winner, “Christopher Childers’ ‘Frames for My Father’ is a deeply moving tribute to the father – intellectually challenging, and emotionally honest. The seven rhymed segments of the poem become seven boxes (frames) upon which he builds the ramp for his dying father’s passage home.”


Fiction editors Phil Hey and Matthew Pangborn said of our winning story, “’Scheherazade’ by William Schwartz is a poignant tale of dreams disappointed, but it is also a surprising and rewarding story about the persistence of beauty and hope even in those places where we least expect to find them.”


Nonfiction editor Paul Weber said, “In her prize-winning essay ‘Peeling Back Skin,’ Rachel Furey reveals tenderly the commonality of her love of frogs and the plight of her sister – sometimes things are not quite so different.” Our other nonfiction editor Ryan Allen noted, “Peeling Back Skin” is a “dissection of vulnerability, a recognition of the limits of our power, both in nature and with others.”


As we look back on 30 years of publication, it is fitting that remembering the past has emerged as a major theme of this issue. Our cover art work, a serigraph and intaglio by Johntimothy Pizzuto, pays homage to seventeenth century Dutch still life artist, William Kalf, who frequently used the peeled lemon in his paintings to remind us of the wealth of the patron and the fragilities of life.


In former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s poem “60th Reunion Banquet” he writes, “they have begun / to pass the dream, a crystal platter / upon which each of them places a piece of the past.” It is serendipitous that Ann Struthers was in our very first issue with her poem “Writing Moby Dick.” And now she’s in this issue with “Rewriting the Story: Palinode.” The speaker wants to revise the story of her father and mother and asks if history can “change the light that shines on her, paint her the heroine I wish she were.”


In Kim Lozano’s “The Spirit of ‘76” she remembers “Saigon had fallen the year before, Captain and Tennile sang ‘Love Will Keep Us Together’...”


In the essay “Surfacing,” Melanie Krieps Mergen remembers her father dying of colon cancer while she was still in her mother’s womb. “My mother held him in her arms as he lay on the daven- port. ‘Go to the light,’ she told him. He listened.”


Emily Arnason Casey’s “Motherland” begins with “My mother always started the story of her sister Magda and the butchered lamb like this. It had been a hard year for the farm.” And then we start to figure out the secret buried in that first sentence, buried in the past. In Louise Marburg’s “All Pies Look Delicious” we follow the story of two couples and feel the pain of what dementia and memory loss does to relationships.


As we examine our own past as a literary art journal, we ask, “What explains our longevity?” Perhaps it lies in the fact that we create an emotional, visual, and tactile experience with a literary art magazine that you can hold in your hands, look at and read. I invite all of you to take your time, center yourself and slowly leaf through this issue, stopping to read and enjoy the work of our talented writers and artists.

BC Review 30th.png

C0VER: "Pyrite Halo: William Kalf's Aura"

Johntimothy Pizzuto / intaglio and serigraph


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Contest Winners





William Schwartz

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William Schwartz, Queens, NY, is an MFA candidate at the University of Illinois. His work has appeared in Ninth Letter and Newtown Literary. He was a 2017 finalist for the Phoebe Literary Award.








"Peeling Back Skin"

Rachel Furey


Rachel Furey, New Haven, CT, is an assistant professor at Southern Connecticut State University. She has won awards from Sycamore Review and Hunger Mountain, and her work has also appeared in One Teen Story, Crab Orchard Review, Cicada, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and Chautauqua.


"Frames for My Father"

Christopher Childers

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Christopher Childers, Baltimore, MD, has published poems, essays, and translations in The Kenyon Review, The Yale Review, Agni, Parnassus, and has been a finalist for the Ruth Lilly Fellowship. He is currently working on a book of translations of Greek and Latin Lyric Poetry from Archilochus to Martial, for which he received an NEA Translator’s Fellowship in 2017.

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