We all had a wonderful time at the 40th anniversary event! On November 14th, everyone from the magazine, some honored guests, and a few hundred fans of literature crowded together in the newly-refurbished Paramount Theatre. We ate some good food, listened to a wonderful string duo, and then proceeded to the theater to listen to some readings and celebrate the history of the magazine. (Some pictures below, and you can check out video clips here.)
It was great to have our readers explore some of the work we’re most proud to have published, from Wally Lamb’s performance of Raymond Carver’s “A Small Good Thing” (it got very quiet in the hall) to Sue Miller’s sparkling reading of Alice Munro’s “Characters.”
Denis Leary, our host, was funny and gracious, and talked about the influence of James Randall as a mentor while he was at Emerson; poetry editor John Skoyles read some of Leary’s early poetry; and everyone, from Alice Hoffman to Andre Dubus III to chef Ming Tsai, gave wonderful readings of work that appeared in Ploughshares.
Hoffman read Grace Paley, Dubus read one of his father’s wonderful short stories (“Rose“), and Ming Tsai read three poems about food by Kevin Young. Emerson President Lee Pelton also read one of the late Richard Yates’s brilliant stories, “A Compassionate Leave.” And Emerson’s a cappella group Noteworthy performed two songs, including an impressive version of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends.”
Bruins’ great Cam Neely said it had been a while since him and the guys in the locker room had recited poems to each other, then gave fine readings of poems by Seamus Heaney (“The Ballad of the Bullets“) and Thomas Lux (“The Cave or the Mine“). Dennis Lehane gave an award for literary distinction to the late Robert Parker, and then read the last page Parker ever wrote in the Spenser series; and Alice Hoffman, who received the Ploughshares Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Pamela Painter, spoke about the continuing importance of literary magazines. Ann Leary, whose story “Safety” appears in our new Winter issue, and was one of many to help put the event together, writes about it here.
For anyone who couldn’t join us, we hope you can make it for the 50th and the 100th!