2023 (Volume 35)
Welcome to the final issue of The Briar Cliff Review. Thirty-six years ago, we founded this magazine with $3500 in seed money from Sister Margaret Wick, our President at the time. It evolved from an in-house publication in 1989 to an international/national journal today. This didn’t happen overnight. It took years to develop and grow. Most of all, it took dedicated faculty editors, some of them artists themselves, student editors, and staff who cared about quality and loved what they were doing. We have cared for and nurtured this magazine because we saw that we needed to encourage beginning and mid-career writers and artists who wanted a venue to showcase their works. We saw the value of making a thing of beauty that you could hold in your hands for now and the future. Our magazine has always featured art along with literature, thus making our publication something beautiful to behold.
In the fall we ran our 27th annual contest, and we were wonderfully inundated with hundreds of submissions. It’s a joy to read all the works, but it’s difficult to select the winners. There are so many deserving poems, stories and essays. Thanks to all who entrusted your works to us. In December we finalized our prizewinners.
Commenting on Jed Myers’ winning poem “Beach Roses,” poetry editor Jeanne Emmons said, “The speaker envisions the plane in which he is a passenger crashing, a ‘carpe diem’ moment that is both a springboard for a reflection on individual and cultural collapse and an opportunity to transform life. In a voice that is both urgent and casual, the poet orchestrates vivid images of the past, present, and imagined future and constructs a sort of ‘wake-up’ call to the terrifying inevitability of ruin and the need to cherish life and love.”
Fiction editors Jeff Gard and Amelia Skinner Saint said of Jayne S. Wilson’s award-wining story, “Told from the second-person perspective, ‘The State of Things’ explores Essie’s compulsion to collect discarded items and her relationship with Sid, a precocious child who is often overlooked by her divorced parents. The story offers rich descriptions of people, items, and interactions that, at first glance, seem ordinary, but through repeated readings, grow in their complexity, much like the items Essie collects.”
Nonfiction editors Paul Weber and Ryan Allen shared their critique: “Maya Bernstein-Schalet’s prize essay, ‘The True Image of the Past Flits By: Walter Benjamin and the Brain on Alzheimer’s,’ is a beautiful meditation that masterfully weaves together and connects life and death, family history, neuroscience, and literary theory. Bernstein-Schalet’s work calls us to re-examine our conceptions of philosophy and language and reveals for us the healing, restorative power of the creative spirit amidst disability and disease.”
Our cover this final year is Molly Wood’s Vanitas of Poppies, 0759. A vanitas focuses on a work of art symbolic of the fleeting transience of our existence. We think it fitting to have a vase of cut poppies, which speaks of exquisite dying splendor. There’s a feeling of both beauty and finality.
We are very proud of The Briar Cliff Review and its glorious run of thirty-five years. We are deeply grateful to all the writers and artists who have appeared in our magazine and to our loyal donors, readers, and past editors. Although we are heartbroken to close the magazine, the editors are pleased to be ending on a high note when The Briar Cliff Review is still vibrant and at the peak of its excellence.
C0VER: "Vanitas of Poppies 0759"
Molly Wood / photograph
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Top (left to right): Drake Coupland, Madaleine Dishaw, Lexi Weber, Kailee Tucker, Paul Weber,
Jeanne Emmons, Ann Horstman, Haley Koob, Hope Wagner. Bottom (left to right): Rich Yates,
Jeff Gard, Amelia Skinner Saint, Judy Thompson, Tricia Currans-Sheehan, Jeff Baldus, Ryan Allen.
Absent: Damond Anderson.
Jayne S. Wilson
Jayne S. Wilson, San Francisco, CA, has published in Passages North, North Dakota Quarterly, SmokeLong Quarterly, and elsewhere. She is currently at work on a novel and a collection of short stories.
Maya Bernstein-Schalet, Brooklyn, NY, earned her BA in Anthropology from Wesleyan University. Her thesis delved into the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay and its relationship to the nearest Cuban town, Caimanera. She is a recipient of the Wesleyan Center for the Humanities Fellowship.
Jed Myers, Seattle, WA, is the author of Watching the Perseids, The
Marriage of Space and Time, and, forthcoming, Learning to Hold. His recent writing appears in Rattle, The Poetry Review, RHINO, The Greensboro Review, On the Seawall, The National Poetry Review,
Nimrod, and elsewhere. Myers edits the journal Bracken.