Laughing into the Abyss

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Guest post by Scott Nadelson My parents went out of their way to warn me about A Serious Man, the most recent film by Joel and Ethan Coen. They’d seen it a week before I did, with several friends from their gated golf community in West Palm Beach, and

In the Spirit of Catherine of Siena

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Guest post by Carol Keeley I grew up in small town in Michigan with thick-armed trees and noble Victorians, lush farm produce, a turn of the century Opera House. It’s leafy, kind, conservative, and typically Midwestern but for the blessed Adrian Dominicans–a tribe of women I sorely wish were

Behind the Scenes at Ploughshares

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Some authors mail poems on loose-leaf paper. Others are solicited by guest editors. With so many different voices collaborating on one magazine, we understand that readers and writers are curious how many cooks are in the Ploughshares kitchen. Here’s an effort at de-shrouding some of the mystery. How exactly

Doreen Gildroy on the Wholly Other

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Doreen Gildroy’s poem “Celestial Room” appears in our Spring 2010 issue. Excerpt from “Celestial Room”: I remember when I was four a book seemed from heaven and then, when I was eight, it seemed a field. It continues to explore and reflect upon the obsessive, captivating power of voice–be

The Art of Half-Hearted Hobbying

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Guest post by Scott Nadelson A good friend of mine has a theory about the fundamental difference between poets and fiction writers: Poets have hobbies and fiction writers don’t. He happens to be a fiction writer and of course has no hobbies. As further evidence, he names another friend,

The Conceit of Wisdom

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Guest post by Carol Keeley Garrison Keillor kicked the beehive with his recent death-of-publishing op-ed. The reaction was vigorously optimistic, with a little messenger-mocking. The backdrop to this volley was BookExpo America, widely described as funereal. As usual, I agree with everyone. Keillor is right that the era of

My Dinner with Girolamo

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Guest post by Bridget Lowe If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be? This question has always struck me as an annoying and strange litmus test for I know not what. Anyhow, I think I finally have a pat answer I can provide

Robert Farnsworth on the Private and the Public

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Two of Robert Farnsworth’s poems appear in our Spring 2010 issue: “Archive,” and “Theatre,” which is available to read on our site. In “Archive,” we’re introduced to what might be our own collection of books, amazed by what we’ve left within them. Excerpt from “Archive”: Codices, caxtons, concordances –

Secret Agents

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Guest post by Scott Nadelson Five or six years ago, when I was living alone after a difficult break-up, I had a lot of time on my hands and filled it in part by following the news religiously, reading a dozen websites and blogs every morning before sitting down

Meeting New Orleans

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Guest post by Carol Keeley We land and see palm trees, which baffles me. It’s my first trip to New Orleans. For some reason, I hadn’t pictured palm trees. Immediately, we see houses scarred with post-Katrina markings–the number of bodies, stranded pets, when it was searched. Some are the