Percival Everett to Read at Emerson College

Everett, Percival NEW-1We are thrilled to announce that author and Ploughshares Fall 2014 guest editor Percival Everett will give a talk and reading at Emerson College on October 9.

Percival Everett, Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California, is the author of more than twenty books, including Percival Everett by Virgil Russell, Assumption, I Am Not Sidney Poitier, The Water Cure, Wounded, Erasure, and Glyph, and the receipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the PEN Center USA Award for Fiction.

The talk will take place at 4:00pm followed by a reading at 6:00pm in the Multipurpose Room at 150 Boylston Street (Piano Row), Emerson College, Boston, MA. Everett will be introduced at his reading by Emerson professor Jessica Treadway.

Jessica Treadway is the author of the forthcoming novel Lacy Eye (Grand Central Publishing/Hachette, Spring 2015); Please Come Back To Me, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction (September 2010); the novel And Give You Peace (Graywolf Press, 2001); and the collection Absent Without Leave and Other Stories (Delphinium Books/Simon & Schuster, 1992).

After the reading Everett will be available to sign books. Copies of his books and the Fall 2014 issue of Ploughshares will be available for purchase. We look forward to seeing you there!

New Ploughshares Solo: “Pie” by Suzanne Matson

Matson-Final-smallerWe’re thrilled to kick off our third volume of Ploughshares Solos with “Pie,” a story by Suzanne Matson. Over the past two years, our Ploughshares Solos series has given us the opportunity to publish excellent long-form stories and essays: first in an easily affordable digital format, and then in our annual Ploughshares Solos Omnibus collection. We have some great work lined up for this third year of Solos, and we’re really excited to share it with you. Stay tuned for a new Solo nearly every month from August through May. If you are in search of even more reading material, you can see all our Solos on

About “Pie”
Leaving behind her strict Mennonite upbringing, Kathryn has moved west by herself. America has just won victory in Japan, and a charming older man begins visiting the diner where Kathryn works, taking her out dancing and around town. With her old soldier boyfriends now scattered, and the country flush with postwar happiness, Kathryn takes a chance on her mysterious admirer and moves to Los Angeles with him. But how much does she really know about her new boyfriend? In this Solo, acclaimed novelist and poet Suzanne Matson looks at the thrill and danger inherent in the American dream of unrestricted liberty.

This Solo is available on Kindle for $1.99.

Continue Reading

Last Chance to Submit to the Emerging Writer’s Contest!

EWC Newsletter BannerThere’s one week left to submit to the Emerging Writer’s Contest! The contest will close on May 15, at 12:00 noon Eastern Time. One winner in each category—fiction, nonfiction, and poetry—will receive $1,000 and publication. We consider you emerging if you have yet to publish or self-publish a book.

For more information or to submit, visit

Over the years, Ploughshares has helped launch the careers of great writers like Edward P. Jones, Sue Miller, Mona Simpson, Tim O’Brien, and others.  We were thrilled to publish last year’s winners.  You can read their winning entries online:

We look forward to reading your work!

Justin Kaplan (1925-2014)

Justin Kaplan, award-winning biographer, editor, and friend of Ploughshares, passed away on March 2 at the age of 88. Kaplan guest edited the 1984 issue of Ploughshares with his wife Anne Bernays. In their introduction to this issue, Kaplan and Bernays wrote “More and more, biography and memoir writing has come to be considered, by readers as well as writers, a branch of literature rather than history, an experimental venture rather than a matter of dutiful record.”

Kaplan’s biographies embodied this theory of experimentation, eschewing chronological order for a more organic movement through the subject’s life. His book Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain (1966) won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography and the National Book Award in Arts and Letters. He followed up with Lincoln Steffens: A Biography (1974), and his book Walt Whitman: A Life (1980) won a second national book award. The New York Times article following his death quotes Kaplan on the subject of his biographies (Newsweek interview, 1980): “I’m drawn to people whose lives have a certain mystery — mysteries that aren’t going to be solved, that are too sacred to be solved.”

In the 1980s, Kaplan became the General Editor of Barlett’s and edited the seventeenth edition of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. He changed the edition to include quotes by Woody Allen, Kermit the Frog, and Archie Leach. Kaplan and Bernays commented on their approach to humor in  their introduction to Ploughshares: “humor is too often deliberately left out of so-called ‘serious’ fiction, the writer mistakenly assuming that to inject humor is to demean art.”

Kaplan collaborated with his wife Anne Bernays not only for their issue of Ploughshares, but also to write two books: Back Then: Two Lives in 1950s New York (2002) and The Language of Names (1997). Listen to an interview with Kaplan and Bernays on NPR.

Kaplan’s work as both a writer and an editor helped shape the future of biographies and the literary world. We are honored that he contributed his keen editorial eye and love of humor to Ploughshares.

2014 Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest is Open!

EWC Banner2

The 2014 Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest is now open! We will be accepting submissions from March 1 (today!) to May 15, and you can submit via our online submission manager.

The contest will recognize work by an emerging writer in each of three genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  One winner in each genre will receive $1,000 and publication in Ploughshares.  We consider you “emerging” if you haven’t published or self-published a book.

For more information and to submit, visit our website.

Over the years, Ploughshares has helped launch the careers of great writers like Edward P. Jones, Sue Miller, Mona Simpson, Tim O’Brien, and others.  We were thrilled to publish last year’s winners.  You can read their winning entries online:


New Ploughshares Solo: The Trench Garden by L.C. Fiore

The Trench GardenWe’re excited to announce the publication of a new Ploughshares Solo: “The Trench Garden” by L.C. Fiore.  The Ploughshares Solos series allows us to publish long essays and stories in a digital format. Recent Ploughshares Solos include “This Blue” by Aurelie Sheehan and  “The Outside Passage” by Brendan Jones. Visit our website to see all the Ploughshares Solos.

As the Second World War rages in Europe, two undergraduates in Tennessee work a summer job for a celebrated poetry professor, W. T. Harlan, as he supervises the clearing of a ravine to make a garden. At their side is a German POW, watched by a military guard, who has been sent to help them with their task.

One of the boys, Benjamin Mason, is from a wealthy family and aspires to be a poet; the other, Steven Darby yearns simply to escape his corner of America and explore the world. As they work, they will get to know the German soldier next to them and the brilliant, unhappy W. T. Harlan.

By the end of the summer, through the experience of war, poetry, and tragedy, all of their lives will be transformed.

Available on Kindle for $0.99.

An excerpt from the Solo:

He and the German were transplanting flowers that had been driven up from Cowan. They knelt beside one another, the prisoner separating and stringing out the roots of primrose and iris while Darby dug shallow holes. He reached for the spade, leaning, and the German grabbed his arm.

Was ist das?” the soldier asked. Continue Reading

Roundup: End of the Year

In our Roundups segment, we’re looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009. We explore posts from our archives as well as other top literary magazines and websites, centered on a certain theme to help you jump-start your week.

The end of the year is a season of gift giving, goal setting, and celebration. Here are some posts to help you gear up for the last two weeks of 2013.

From Ploughshares

From Around the Web

Everyone likes to make “best books” lists at the end of the year. For your convenience, here is a lists of some of these lists.

If wading through all these lists is too overwhelming, you’re in luck! The Daily Beast compiled a number of “best books” lists and presented the results.

Happy Holidays!

Editor’s Shelf: Winter 2013-14

Each Ploughshares issue contains book recommendations from our Advisory Editors.  Here’s an Editor’s Shelf selection from the Winter 2013-14 Issue.  Enjoy these recommendations by B.H. Fairchild, Jane Hirschfield, Tony Hoagland, Joyce Peseroff, and more.

driving-lateB.H. Fairchild recommends Driving Late to the Party: The Kansas Poems by Jeff Worley: “This is the best book of poems about Kansas by a native Kansan that I have read since the poems of William Stafford, who, like Worley, found a world there, a Wichita vortex of human experience and mystery. Worley’s range of subject matter and tone is remarkable – brilliantly comic, wise, meditative, celebratory, and deeply sensitive, without sentimentality, to the dark passages of son, lover, and adventurer on the unmapped plains of young manhood. One waits a long time for poetry of such power and emotional precision, and I’m glad I’ve found it.” (Woodley Press, December 2012)

collected-poems-naomi-replansky-paperback-cover-artB.H. Fairchild also recommends Collected Poems by Naomi Replansky: “In a poem from 2011, Naomi Replansky confesses, ‘I loved to mark time / with a beat, with rhyme.’ Ezra Pound noted that poetry severed from music atrophies, and since the earliest poems of her first book, Ring Song, in 1952, Replansky has become the master of a Blakean music radically unfashionable in its devotion to song-like meters and to the reality and politics of working-class experience. For those of us who came upon her poems half a century ago, the appearance of Replansky’s Collected Poems is cause for celebration. At age 94, she recently received the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America.” (Black Sparrow Press, May 2012) Continue Reading

Winter 2013-14 Issue

3d Winter-whitebackgroundWe are excited to announce the publication of our Winter 2013-14 issue, which features poetry and prose compiled by our staff editors. This issue includes the work of several distinguished writers and newcomers, featuring writers like Andrew Foster Altschul, Jennifer Acker, and Carl Dennis.

We’re thrilled with the quality of work in this issue and excited to share it with you.  The Winter issue has been mailed to our subscribers, and is available in bookstores and online.

You can purchase single copies or subscribe by visiting

Dedicated to Seamus Heaney (1939-2013), a former guest editor, this issue of Ploughshares features a short remembrance of the Irish master by the poet Joyce Peseroff. The prose has a particularly international flavor, from Andrew Foster Altschul’s story “Embarazada,” about a fraught relationship between a Peruvian waitress and an American tourist, to “498,” about a soldier caught in the brutality of the Spanish Civil War. Robert Anthony Seigel’s Plan B essay describes his years as a tour guide for Japanese visitors to New York, and Jennifer Acker celebrates the work of the Australian writer Shirley Hazzard.

The Winter issue also features poetry by Kevin Young, Linda Bamber, Michael Mlekoday, and Carl Dennis, among many others; a newly discovered poem by Alan Dugan; and the winners of the Emerging Writer’s Contest.

Pushcart Prize Nominees for 2014

We’re excited to announce our nominees for the Pushcart Prize, as seen in the 2013 issues of Ploughshares.  If selected, their work will be published in volume XXXVIII of The Pushcart Prize: The Best of the Small Presses.

Good luck to all our poetry and prose nominees!

“Introduction to Philosophy” by Carl Dennis, from Ploughshares Winter 2013-2014, edited by our staff editors.

“Praise Poem for American Girls” by Jaclyn Dwyer, from Ploughshares Spring 2013, guest-edited by Major Jackson.

“Meeting a Stranger” by Sharon Olds, from Ploughshares Spring 2013, guest-edited by Major Jackson.

“Transfer Station” by Elise Juska, from Ploughshares Spring 2013, guest-edited by Major Jackson.

“498″ by Julian Zabalbeascoa, from Ploughshares Winter 2013-2014, edited by our staff editors.

“Pleased to Be Otherwise” by Gina Ochsner, from Ploughshares Solos Volume 1.8, edited by Ladette Randolph.