Welcome to the first ever Ploughshares Fantasy Blog Draft! If you missed our manifesto post, be sure to read it so you understand the rules of the “game.” Today we’ll be introducing our teams, the draft order, and the bracket for the competition. So without further ado, here are our competitors!
Drafting first is poet, author, director, and, apparently, traitor, Justin Alvarez:
Draft Strategy: It’s easy to choose the big name “players,” but who are the players that form the backbone of an organization? Big name players may sell more merchandise, but they’re typically not the ones that move on from their playing careers and become famed “coaches.” A few exceptions aside, most coaches were undistinguished players with long, solid careers, but never decorated with million-dollar bonuses. However, these are the players who are solid every week, never miss a game, and will fight until the very end. They all surpass a defined position and are able to move from “offense” to “defense” whenever necessary. This is what I’ll be looking for as I draft.
This is a very strong start from Justin: excellent team name and a well thought out strategy. Cheever himself might even deign to acknowledge both with a curt nod before removing all his clothing and jumping into a pool.
Drafting second is writer and maker extraordinaire Jordan Kushins:
Draft Strategy: Playbooks? We don’t need no stinkin’ playbooks. I’m establishing a team of literary mavericks, a gang of true individuals who have set themselves apart with their singular style, linguistic panache, biting wit, and aching real—or surreal—ism. Each has the kind of keen eye and attention to detail that make them no-brainers for my organization. Expect exciting play from my picks, and prepare to be surprised by how well they pull together. They’ve struggled and starved for their art and they’re still hungry—this time for wins.
A bold choice of team name, the un-punned version of which we are probably not allowed to print on the Ploughshares site. Bukowski would definitely approve, as should his rabid Internet fanbase.
Drafting third is Floridian writer and Ploughshares playlist guru Brenna Dixon:
Draft Strategy: Yes, yes, yes, there are the go-to tried-and-true strategies that can win you a game, but a team doesn’t make history by winning just one game. A team that makes it all the way has players with endurance and consistency, players who work hard against the odds. A winning team re-defines the game and then makes its opponents play according to those rules. Teams that make history (teams that win) change the game; they take it to a new level. They push the envelope until it learns to fit them in. As I draft, I’ll be looking for the game-changers, the players who break and bend the rules of the game, the players who think outside the box without fear and take everyone else out there with them. It’s like Lombardi says: “Leaders aren’t born. They’re made. And they are made just like anything else—through hard work.”
Vonnegut and Schwarzenegger both know a thing or two about bending and breaking, the former genres and the latter steel bars and the rules of the Austrian military. Hard work, indeed.
Drafting fourth, and representing the Kenyon Review, is the duo of Marty Kezon and Joumana Katib:
Draft Strategy: Our team’s mantra is “Read Local, (Richard) Wright Local.” We’re looking for local writers not only to reduce our carbon footprint, but also to showcase Midwestern talent. We know the stereotypes about America’s Heartland, and while we are a friendly bunch, our writers will break your heart—and we mean litera(ri)lly. Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and the rest of the Midwest have produced some of the country’s most revolutionary writers, and we want to celebrate the Breadbasket they’ve called home. Straight from America’s Corn, Dairy, and Grain Belts, we’ll bring you America’s best-fed game-changers.
Nobody pulls harder for its athletes, artists, and writers than a local fanbase. This is a brilliant strategy.
Drafting fifth is Electric Literature editor Benjamin Samuel:
Team Name: The Mighty Duck Palahniuks
Draft Strategy: I’m going for the glory, and glory shines brightest on those who come up from below. In less confusing metaphorical terms, I’m picking the underdogs, the Cinderella stories of literature, the Bad News Bears of fiction. In a sense, every writer who succeeds did so against the odds, by slogging through slush piles to rise above obscurity. My team celebrates the relentless, persevering author. No one hustles better than a desperate writer.
The first rule of Fantasy Blog Draft is that you tell everyone about Fantasy Blog Draft and build up a narrative for your team—The Mighty Duck Palahniuks have a classic narrative: Nobody believes in us!
Drafting sixth is Damian Lewis doppelganger and Missouri Review managing editor Michael Nye:
Team Name: The Holden Caulbabies
Draft Strategy: Playful, lucky, superstitious, and prone to calling people “phonies,” this team is the literary turducken of fantasy…well, whatever this is. We’re putting a team together of specialists—precise prose stylists, devastating slingers of verse—combined with the type of multigenre specialists that are easy to overlook. Our team’s focus is on “serious play”: we’re having a blast when talkin’ and writin’ all things literature, but it’s also the most important thing when it comes to making sense of the here and now of this great big messy thing called The World.
These playful punsters came up with pretty good team names, though our lexicographical mavens over at the Ploughshares Wordplay Statistics Bureau inform me that there are plenty of pun-tastic possibilities left on the board. The top five team names untouched by the managers were the following:
5. Lorrie Moore Cowbell!
4. George Snorewell and the Soap-orific Plongeurs
3. What the F. Scott Fitzgerald?!
2. Walk This Hemingway (Talk This Hemingway)
1. Waiting for Junot
Are there any that we’ve missed? Think you can out-pun our managers? Leave your best team name in the comments below.
Now that we have our teams and our draft order, take a look at how the bracket breaks down.
After a random draw, The Holden Caulbabies and What the Chuckin’ Buk?! will have a bye and will match up with the first-round victors.
Look for the Ploughshares booth at the AWP conference this week and be sure to fill out your own bracket, March Madness style! Participants whose bracket scores closest to the real outcome will win a subscription to Ploughshares and one of our handsome t-shirts.
So keep your eyes on this space: The Managers will be back in two weeks and making their First Round picks for the Editor position!