“Free Ploughshares” Review: Spring 1997

Issue: Spring 1997

This is a review of a back issue of Ploughshares. The author won our “Free Ploughshares” contest that we hosted earlier this year and agreed to review his/her free issue. This post was written by Mary Stone Dockery. Enjoy!

In the Spring 1997 issue of Ploughshares, guest editor Yusef Komunyakaa says, “Many of the stories and poems in this issue seem to exist in two or more places simultaneously, and a narrator or speaker is forced to negotiate multiple worlds.” I was humbled by this observation and soon realized that it was a thoughtful and fitting design for this particular issue. I found that each piece works diligently to thrust the reader into various colorful worlds, while each piece also creates its own world, reflecting a search for identity filtered through themes of mythology and place, history and war.Continue Reading

“Free Ploughshares” Review: Winter 2007

Review: Winter 2007

This is a review of a back issue of Ploughshares. The author won our “Free Ploughshares” contest that we hosted earlier this year and agreed to review his/her free issue. This post was written by Joel Ferdon. Enjoy!

In 2007 I watched my brother get married in a small Catholic church while I stood next to him as his best man. Before the wedding, Daniel gave the other two groomsmen and me a gift. “It’s a tradition,” Daniel said, and handed us each a Zippo. Even then, when I was seventeen, I knew the Zippo was a workingman’s flame, and Daniel emphasized that when he whispered to me, “You’ll be as blue-collar as us.”Continue Reading

“Free Ploughshares” Review: Winter 2000

Issue: Winter 2000

This is a review of a back issue of Ploughshares. The author won our “Free Ploughshares” contest that we hosted earlier this year and agreed to review his/her free issue. This post was written by Julie Nilson. Enjoy!

Like many, I discovered Sherman Alexie through the film Smoke Signals. Wanting more of Thomas Builds-the-Fire and Victor Joseph, I picked up Alexie’s Reservation Blues, and then I was hooked.Continue Reading

“Free Ploughshares” Review: Spring 1991

Issue: Spring 1991

This is a review of a back issue of Ploughshares. The author won our “Free Ploughshares” contest that we hosted earlier this year and agreed to review his/her free issue. This post was written by Anna Zink. Enjoy!

I’ve been picking up Ploughshares‘ Works-in-Progress issue on and off for weeks now, sneaking in pieces while commuting or before I go to bed. It contains a wide variety of genres—poems, journal entries, operas, short stories, and more. I loved the “Works-In-Progress” theme because it allows contributors to put forward more innovative pieces that they’re less comfortable with. Continue Reading

Lost Memory of Skin

Lost Memory of Skin
Russell Banks
Ecco, September 2011
432 pages
$25.99

Outside of freshman philosophy classes and Republican presidential debates, morality is not a hot topic these days. Books that moralize are considered old-fashioned at best and insulting at worst. Leave it to Russell Banks to write a subtle, thoughtful novel about what would seem to be the most unambiguous moral issue of all; Lost Memory of Skin’s narrator, The Kid, is a sex offender.Continue Reading

“Free Ploughshares” Review: Spring 1990

Issue: Spring 1990

This is a review of a back issue of Ploughshares. The author won our “Free Ploughshares” contest that we hosted earlier this year and agreed to review his/her free issue. This post was written by Andrew David King. Enjoy!

The Future Then, the Past Now: Considering the Spring/Summer 1990 Issue of Ploughshares

A certain vibration of energy resonates at the juncture where one era slides into the next: the sensation of progress, of moving toward something new. The clock resets, or so we allow ourselves to think for a bit, champagne is poured. The Spring 1990 issue of Ploughshares, edited by Rita Dove and Fred Viebahn, is no exception—it too seems to tug decidedly forward. And more than twenty years later, the collection of works still hums with a dark sort of hopefulness, one aware of the past but unwilling to mar the future with its imperfections.Continue Reading

“Free Ploughshares” Review: Winter 1995-1996

Issue: Winter 1995/1996

This is a review of a back issue of Ploughshares. The author won our “Free Ploughshares” contest that we hosted earlier this year and agreed to review his/her free issue. This post was written by A.J. Kandathil. Enjoy!

As a writer who recently finished an MFA program, I’ve listened to my fair share of discussions about why a word like chaos tends to be a “no-no word.” Along with other terms like depression, happiness, and love, we use these words so often that they’ve been drained of meaning. If that’s the case, then what is a writer to do when he or she truly feels sad? Or happy? A professor once gave my class some instrumental advice: “Make depression a room,” she said. “One we can sit in, something we can touch.”Continue Reading

“Free Ploughshares” Review: Winter 1983

Issue: Winter 1983

This is a review of a back issue of Ploughshares. The author won our “Free Ploughshares” contest that we hosted earlier this year and agreed to review his/her free issue. This post was written by Stephanie Rogers. Enjoy!

Time and Timelessness

In 1983, President Obama and I were twenty-two years old. Like the president, I have never considered myself a “Baby Boomer.” The title just never seemed to fit, I never seemed to get it—the selflessness of the ‘60s that gave way to the selfishness of the ‘80s that led to the self-righteousness of the ‘00s. I’ve always been just at little bit too young to be caught up in time the way it seems a Real Boomer should be. And I have never been more aware of that difference than I am now, as I review, at 50 years of age, a 1983 issue of Ploughshares, guest edited by Raymond Carver.Continue Reading

“Free Ploughshares” Review: Spring 1988

Issue: Spring 1988

This is a review of a back issue of Ploughshares. The author won our “Free Ploughshares” contest that we hosted earlier this year and agreed to review his/her free issue. This post was written by Bonnie B. Lee. Enjoy!

The Spring 1988 issue edited by Maxine Kumin is about mothers, fathers, sisters, and children—how we love them and how we love others as them—so Maxine Kumin tells us in her introduction. The stories and poems within are the gifts that Kumin wants for herself but has been told she must share with others. Unwrap the crimson paper and raffia bow, however, and inside is so much more than the mere outward shape suggests.Continue Reading

So You Know It’s Me

So You Know It’s Me
Brian Oliu
Tiny Hardcore Press, June 2011
56 pages
$7.00

This post was written by Kim Liao.

A good piece of experimental nonfiction is hard to find: Creative nonfiction writers experiment rarely, and when they do, the result is often too tentative or too filled with clever gimmicks privileging form over function. Experimentation falls flat when it doesn’t match the purpose of a piece.

Luckily, Brian Oliu’s masterful first book So You Know It’s Me avoids these potential pitfalls, in a stunning example of experimental artistry. The premise is simple and whimsical: you know Craigslist? Well, Oliu went on the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Craigslist page and posted all of these pieces as “Missed Connections” over the course of 45 days. The resulting book collects all 22 lyric essays in a collection that builds small moments into a larger arc of longing.Continue Reading