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Briar Cliff Review recognizes emerging writers and artists for 29 years

Briar Cliff Review

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Tricia Currans-Sheehan loves the "new book smell."

No, not the new car smell.

Rather, the Briar Cliff University English and writing professor enjoys the aroma of the ink that lingers on freshly printed editions of The Briar Cliff Review, the internationally renowned literary magazine she has been editing for nearly 30 years.

"It may sound funny but I like the smell of ink," Currans-Sheehan explained, cracking open an advance copy of the magazine. "It's special to me."

The 29th edition of The Briar Cliff Review will be released at 6 p.m. April 20 at an opening reception at the Sioux City Art Center, 225 Nebraska St.

In addition, art from the literary journal will be exhibited.

"I think representation of visual art is one of the things that sets The Briar Cliff Review apart from other publications," Currans-Sheehan said. "We have a full-size format that allows for elegantly pleasing design. While other magazines offer simply text, we offer more."

Despite that, Currans-Sheehan, a novelist and prolific short story writer, remains a believer in the written word.

Annually, she and a small staff of professors and students plow through the hundreds of short stories submitted by writers.

From these entries, Currans-Sheehan and other Briar Cliff Review editors choose the stories that will be printed and eligible for $1,000 prizes for best poetry, best fiction and best nonfiction.

"I think our magazine is perfect for a writer at the start of his career as well as the writer at the mid-point in his career," she said. "(The mid-point writer) may have had some initial success but he needs the extra boost of confidence that comes with being published in a well-respected anthology."

This was the case for author Jenna Blum, whose 2004 best-selling novel, "Those Who Save Us," was inspired by a short story she originally wrote for The Briar Cliff Review.

"(Blum's) success really opened the floodgates for writers wanting to be published by us," Currans-Sheehan noted. "We have a history and a reputation that is very appealing to emerging writers."

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