The Ploughshares blog has changed a lot since we first launched it in 2009. Back then, it was mostly a supplement to the magazine—a clearinghouse for announcements, extra contributors’ notes, and all the other little tidbits that wouldn’t fit elsewhere. Over the years we added more original material, too, inviting our print contributors to sign up for four-month stints as guest bloggers, and then, in July 2011, adding our first real proprietary content—a book reviews section, written by our staff and other writers not connected with the print magazine.
The blog was still very much a supplement to the magazine, though—and to a certain extent, of course, it always will be. On the other hand, we were increasingly excited about what our regular book reviewers were coming up with, from Shannon Wagner’s Dr. Poetry column, to Paul Scott Stanfield’s “Not Unlike…” column. And who could forget Anca Szilagyi’s inventive book-reviews-in-bullet-points? Suddenly it seemed like the blog could be more than just extra pages for the magazine’s contributors: it could complement the magazine, giving it a lively online presence that would ultimately draw more attention to the wonderful prose and poetry we’ve always published in print.
So we’re very excited to announce, today, that the blog is changing once again. Starting next week you’ll be meeting a crop of nearly twenty regular bloggers, all of whom will be with us for a whole year—and none of whom (with one exception) have any connection with the print magazine’s recent issues. For the first time, the Ploughshares blog is becoming its own, separate creature.
And though I don’t want to spoil too many surprises, here are a few highlights you can look forward to:
- The Ploughshares Fantasy Blog Draft. For too long, the immense fun and fanatical obsession of fantasy sports has been restricted to, well… sports. No more! This year we’re going to be running a fantasy blog draft, where a group of ‘managers’ will be assembling the teams of writers, living or dead, that they think would make the ideal set of contributors to a fantasy blog. You can follow the process here over the next few months, and then in early summer can have your say on which manager did the best job, when the teams face off in a March Madness-style bracket—with your votes deciding the winner.
- Ploughshares Playlists. Thanks to the magic of Spotify, we’ll be providing you with our recommended musical accompaniments to books both classic and contemporary. Listen to the playlists right here on the blog, or note them down to buy and listen to later.
- Advice for new writers. We’ve always tried to support emerging writers at the magazine, most recently with our Emerging Writers Contest. Now, on the blog, we’ll be going even further, with tips on how to get noticed by our slush readers—and common mistakes to avoid—as well as regular writing exercises to improve your skills.
- Popular poetry. You’ve heard the familiar arguments: poetry is increasingly the domain of wonkish academics and poets themselves, and holds little interest or relevance to the average person. The frontwoman from the band Ellery (who Paste praised for their “intelligent lyrics” and “captivating vocals,” not that they’re bragging) passionately disagrees—and will be writing a series exploring the links between poetry, performance, and popularity. (She also has an advanced degree in English—not that she’s bragging.)
- The literary community. Our Literary Boroughs series is almost at an end—look out for our giant two-part finale on Boston, the week before AWP—but we’ll continue to highlight the best of the nation’s literary community, with series profiling independent bookstores, book artists, literature teachers, and more.
- The kitchen sink. In amongst all that, we also have bloggers lined up to give you light-hearted literary analysis of everything from cowboys, to reality TV, to suburbia, to neuroscience, to… well. You’ll just have to read and find out.
We’re excited about all of it, and we hope you are too. See you next week!