Non-Writing Things that Nevertheless Help Me Write: The Boston Red Sox

When I told a friend my idea for these posts, she said, “That’s great. Post 1: beer. Post 2: scotch.” This rather snarky answer actually reinforced one of my goals for these admittedly egotistical pieces: All writers have their crutches and vices, and while alcohol is often one of them, there are others. I swear.

I’d also like to discuss the fact that while reading books and short stories inspires me a great deal, it’s only part of what makes me want to write. It’s fine for people to imagine me (though why one would ever imagine me at all is beyond me, but please go with it) sitting in an oak-paneled library surrounded by leather-bound tomes, chewing thoughtfully on a quill as I read through the fictions of the day, and of course, I do. Like many, I have been critical of the sudden proliferation of aspiring writers who don’t like to read. However, I get inspiration from music, movies, art, and even, gasp, television. Writers don’t have to look down on all other forms of art. Reading is, by far, the best way to learn to be a writer, but it can be supplemented by other, more lowly forms of expression.Continue Reading

Two Ploughshares Events This Weekend

40th Anniversary Celebration with DeWitt Henry

Friday, September 30th
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Charles Beard Room, Emerson College
80 Boylston Street, 2nd Floor

Join us to celebrate forty years of Ploughshares with magazine founding editor DeWitt Henry. The evening will feature a reception along with talks and readings.

by Diego Torres Alvarez

Literary Magazine Fair at Newtonville Books

Saturday, October 1st
2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Newtonville Books
296 Walnut Street
Newtonville, MA 02460

Join Ploughshares and other great local literary mags at Newtonville Books, with discounts on issues and readings, featuring Fall 2011 contributor (and current Ploughshares blogger) James Scott.

Rust Fish

Rust Fish
Maya Jewell Zeller
Lost Horse Press, April 2011
77 pages
$15.00

Maya Jewell Zeller’s bio tells us that she was “Born at home in the upstairs apartment of her parents’ gas station on the Oregon coast,” and this half-sentence provides exactly enough information to authenticate the stories at the core of Rust Fish, her first collection of poetry.Continue Reading

Free Ploughshares, featuring Yusef Komunyakaa

It’s time for our weekly free Ploughshares contest! This week, we’re featuring our Spring 1997 issue, guest-edited by Yusef Komunyakaa and featuring work by Mark Doty, Marilyn Hacker, and Martin Espada. Interestingly, it also features a story by Carolyn Ferrell, whose short story collection Don’t Erase Me was accidentally placed in the children’s section of this intern’s childhood library, traumatizing her slightly at age eight.

To win this issue, comment below with a reason why you love Yusef Komunyakaa or any of the issue’s other contributors. We’ll read through the comments and our managing editor Andrea Martucci will choose our winning commenter by noon tomorrow. After that, we’ll send you the issue and you’ll have up to thirty days to write a review that we’ll later publish on the Ploughshares blog and website, in honor of our upcoming fortieth anniversary.

The full contest details can be found here. If you’re interested in continuing to hear about this weekly contest, make sure to fan us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our blog feed, or add us on Tumblr.

 

 

 

UPDATE: I’ve made my selection, and so this posting is now CLOSED. We’ll be doing this every week, so there will be plenty more chances for free issues. Stay tuned!

 

Innovators in Lit #7: Matt Bell

Matt Bell is an editor at Dzanc Books, where his duties include running the literary magazine The Collagist. He’s the author of How They Were Found (2010) and Cataclysm Baby (2012), as well as three chapbooks, Wolf Parts, The Collectors, and How the Broken Lead the Blind. This fall he will be teaching writing at the University of Michigan. When I got the idea for this interview series, Matt was one of the first people on my list. I have long been impressed by Matt’s smarts and energy—in addition to producing great fiction and his work with Dzanc, he’s a tireless supporter of other writers and their books, fellow publishers, and is generally just an invaluable member of the literary community. He’s also darn good at poker. We had a nice long talk about goings on at Dzanc, how writers can create buzz, what it means to create something that matters, and thirty-hour days.Continue Reading

Non-Writing Things That Nevertheless Help Me Write: Music

When I told a friend my idea for these posts, she said, “That’s great. Post 1: beer. Post 2: scotch.” This rather snarky answer actually reinforced one of my goals for these admittedly egotistical pieces: All writers have their crutches and vices, and while alcohol is often one of them, there are others. I swear.

I’d also like to discuss the fact that while reading books and short stories inspires me a great deal, it’s only part of what makes me want to write. It’s fine for people to imagine me (though why one would ever imagine me at all is beyond me, but please go with it) sitting in an oak-paneled library surrounded by leather-bound tomes, chewing thoughtfully on a quill as I read through the fictions of the day, and of course, I do. Like many, I have been critical of the sudden proliferation of aspiring writers who don’t like to read. However, I get inspiration from music, movies, art, and even, gasp, television. Writers don’t have to look down on all other forms of art. Reading is, by far, the best way to learn to be a writer, but it can be supplemented by other, more lowly forms of expression. Continue Reading

40th Anniversary Celebrations

To celebrate our 40th anniversary, we are having two big events. Denis Leary (whose poetry we published way back when) will be hosting a  fundraiser on November 14th. After cocktails at the newly renovated Paramount Theater, featured guests will be presenting their favorites from the Ploughshares archives over the years. Readers include authors Dennis Lehane, Alice Hoffman, Sue Miller, Sebastian Junger, and Andre Dubus III. Other poems and stories will be read by Chef Ming Tsai, actress Karen Allen, and Cam Neely (yes, from the Boston Bruins!) Tickets can be reserved here. We hope to see you there!

 

Also, on September 30th, Ploughshares co-founder DeWitt Henry (and guest editor of this year’s Fall issue) will be leading a celebration of the magazine and its history, with readings and talks by friends and colleagues. This event is free and open to the public, and will be at the Charles Beard Room at Emerson College from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

UPDATE: We were mentioned in the Boston Globe today. Here’s the link to the Names section online and below you’ll find the scan. Thanks, Meredith Goldstein! Also, here’s the link for the 40th anniversary event in November, if you’re interested in attending. You can reserve tickets now!

 

Zazen

Zazen
Vanessa Veselka
Red Lemonade, May 2011
$15.95
257 pages

This post was written by Caitlin O’Neil.

With the anniversary of the September 11 attacks just a few days past, Zazen isn’t the comforting book you might be seeking. But it is a book that could not have been written in an earlier time because the legacy of those attacks, the ensuing war, and our current financial conundrum reverberate throughout its pages. First-time author Vanessa Veselka is not trying to bum you out, however; she’s looking at a not-so-distant future, where the world is at war and corporations and religion have converged to overtake American culture, and trying to offer a path to survival.Continue Reading

Free Ploughshares: Raymond Carver

It’s once again time for another free Ploughshares contest, and this week we’re featuring our Winter 1983 issue, guest edited by Raymond Carver and featuring work by Mona Simpson, Tim O’Brien, Jay McInerney, and Tobias Wolff.

For anyone unfamiliar with the contest, the rules are simple: comment in the space below about why you love Raymond Carver or any of the other contributors in the issue, and we’ll choose the winning comment by noon tomorrow. Our managing editor Andrea Martucci will send you the issue and you’ll have up to thirty days to write a review that we’ll later publish on the Ploughshares blog and website, in honor of our upcoming fortieth anniversary.

The full contest details can be found here. If you’re interested in continuing to hear about this weekly contest, make sure to fan us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our blog feed, or add us on Tumblr.

 

UPDATE: I’ve made my selection, and so this posting is now CLOSED. We’ll be doing this every week, so there will be plenty more chances for free issues. Stay tuned!