Monthly Archive:: May 2011

Why I Reread “Paper Lantern”

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Every Memorial Day my grandmother took flowers to the graves of people she had known, military or not. She was a southern transplant, with ancestors that fought on both sides of the Civil War, but she lived in my grandfather’s state, New Hampshire, so the graves she visited belonged

Good Poets You’ve (Probably) Never Read, Part I: Buckram and Burning Birds

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Everyone has them—the books that we loved that got only cursory critical attention, if any.  The friends who managed to get the books finally, finally into print, only to hear a few grains of sand shifting in the long silence as they drive to the liquor store to buy


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Mood: a predominant emotion; disposition; a conscious state of mind. Etymologically, “mood” at its root is anger, anger and its sometime sidekick, courage, though, the book cautions us, mood’s ultimate origin is unknown.  Because who can really say where a mood comes from?  Construction on the freeway wastes an

Ribbons for Ploughshares’ Writers!

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We just received the list of Best American stories and essays, and were happy to see lots of familiar names. It would take too long to mention all of the former contributors and guest editors on the list, but here are a few: Fall 2010 contributor and Ploughshares guest

Why I Reread “Simon’s Luck”

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Alice Munro has been a popular literary writer of short stories for decades. She moves from subtle interior discomfort to the most blatant of coincidences without apology. “Simon’s Luck” is a short story from the book that could be called her only novel: The Beggar Maid. The book could

The Pit Bull

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It feels as though every posting starts somewhere else, and this is no exception.  I’ve been reading one of Angela’s “Why I Reread…” postings, in the midst of state and federal budget cuts which, far from rereading much of anything, seem designed to keep the world from reading most

Gary Fincke on “At Midnight, on my Birthday”

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Gary Fincke’s poem, “At Midnight, on my Birthday,” appears in our Spring 2011 issue, guest edited by Colm Toibin. The poem opens with these lines: My mother, dead at my age, unclasps her beaded purse as if entering my house requires a ticket. Here, Fincke describes where this poem

Facing Night

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What reaches for the sun.  What turns green panes flat to the zenith.  A green order in the bay window, quatrefoil.  Egg-toothed cotyledon. ~ There’s something to know and it can’t be known and I have to know it.  It wakes me up in the morning, shivers me through

Why I Reread This Boy’s Life

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I sometimes take comfort in categorizations. The world can always be divided into two populations, it can be obnoxiously insisted: those who send thank-you notes and those who don’t, those who have seen American Idol and those who haven’t…those who get to class on time and those who can’t,

Step Away from the Tab Key…or Don’t

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As a change from the didacticism and mostly-benign aesthetic dictatorship of my recent posts, and before I review anything (though that’s coming), perhaps it’s time I ask a question instead of attempting to answer any. Within recent memory I had cause—or thought I had, anyway—to post a link on