Monthly Archive:: March 2011

Interview with Valerie Brennan, cover artist for the Colm Toibin Issue

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Valerie Brennan is the artist whose painting appears on the cover of our Spring 2011 issue, guest edited by Colm Toibin.  I (the web/marketing editor here at Ploughshares) asked her a few questions about this particular painting, current inspirations, and her work in general. Ploughshares: First off, is there

Interview with Cate Marvin Part II

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If you have, at any point this year, had a conversation about the number of women in publishing–the number of female-authored books reviewed in newspapers, say–you’ve had that conversation (likely) because of some numbers which were researched and published by VIDA, an organization devoted to women in literary arts.

Wherefore and Why the MFA?

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I realize there is no shortage of essays justifying or vilifying the creative writing MFA degree, which some consider the educational equivalent of fool’s gold and the universities that offer this degree little better than diploma mills.  At the college in Chicago where I teach creative writing and literature courses,

Poetry Dialogue: Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

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Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon is the author of Black Swan (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002) which was a winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, and ]Open Interval[ (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009), which was a finalist for the National Book Award and for the L.A. Times Book Award.

Interview with Cate Marvin Part I

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If you have, at any point this year, had a conversation about the number of women in publishing–the number of female-authored books reviewed in newspapers, say–you’ve had that conversation (likely) because of some numbers which were researched and published by VIDA, an organization devoted to women in literary arts.

Ed Skoog on his poems “Lighting” and “Get Free”

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Ed Skoog’s poems, “Lighting” and “Get Free” appear in the Winter 2010-11 issue, of Ploughshares edited by Terrance Hayes. “Lighting” opens with these lines: Note the surface that surrounds the word, and how unlike its meaning, which you step over to avoid, the word raised and untouchable. Pitted prune,

Why Is It Taking So Friggin’ Long?

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It’s hard to dispute the omnipresent signs that we are a nation of strivers and slackers who have been told that we deserve immediate results, and if at all possible, we should be able to reap the rewards of the good life without any real or prolonged struggle.  Instant

Poetry Dialogue: Oliver de la Paz

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Oliver de la Paz is the author of three collections of poetry, Names Above Houses, Furious Lullaby (SIU Press 2001, 2007), and Requiem for the Orchard (U. of Akron Press 2010), winner of the Akron Prize for poetry chosen by Martìn Espada. He co-chairs the advisory board of Kundiman

Thoughts on Structure

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I have become, maybe unfortunately, obsessed with structure. I don’t imagine I’m alone in considering this aspect of poetry: all of us who write have, at some point, had to decide where the line breaks, how we’ll let the clusters of language cohere. I don’t have a goal in

The Vampire in the Ivory Tower: Genre Fiction

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A year or so ago, a friend who teaches college English courses made a thought-provoking comment about the reality gap between MFA programs and the publishing world, one that continues to haunt me:  “Why do MFA writing faculty turn up their noses at genre fiction,” he asked, “when that’s