Readers and writers need to know what’s happening–Where are the new poets, how are the established poets, what is fiction really up to these days? It is the chance at variety that remains essential.
—Elizabeth Strout on guest editing Ploughshares
True to her word, Strout assembled a “variety” of poems and stories–familiar and newer voices sitting down to dinner, traveling across continents and years, through relationships living and dead.
Many stories and poems in Strout’s issue center around family. In Richard Bausch‘s “We Belong Together,” Mary and Frank are late for lunch. Reuniting with their old friend, Frank can’t help but confess everything: Mary’s ultimatum that morning, and his feelings from years back. Meanwhile, Amy Hempel introduces us to the vivacious libertine Mrs. Greed, her affection for her husband only surpassed by her dalliance with other men. In Marjorie Kemper‘s “A Memo from Your Temp,” a cubicle worker sinks into NPR and repetitive tasks to forget the daughter who won’t call, the family she once had–and the new identity she’s fabricated. Mark Kraushaar watches the cow jump over the moon with a mother restless for change.
So many of our authors dig deep into the mystery of parenthood. A father
reunites with his son, performing health work in Kenya, in “Long
Division,” where Lisa Cupolo explores the meaning of where home
truly is. Ha Kiet Chau‘s poems juxtapose warfare with escape, as
an expectant mother flees the streets of Hanoi, while Bob Hicok
straddles natural beauty and the violence of mothers driven to
Age tempers little. Michael Collier joins nonagenarians
who drink their final years away by the swimming pool. Faith Shearin
travels back to college and bristles at being called ma’am. In “Ars
Longa,” Mary Gordon‘s sixty-something heroine bides her time at a
small-town Pennsylvania vegetable stand, wanting to become known, and
stands up to the perennially pessimistic Rick. Scott Nadelson
finds the stinging humor of youth: a college boy entering adulthood
falls under the spell of the Knicks with a colleague wracked by
There’s humor and wonderment wherever our authors may travel. Joyce
Carol Oates‘ newest story, “Distance,” conveys the loneliness and
paranoia of a Vegas hotel room and a lover nearly forgotten. Amy
Newman prizes the sweetness of small talk with a wide-eyed grocery
cashier. In E.V. Slate‘s “The Sailor,” Leo and his wife Evelyn
finally set foot on their tropical island paradise, but Leo’s quest for
meaning draws him into the most exotic reaches of his mind. Charlie
Smith lounges in the haze and whimsy of his Cuban days, while Jeffrey
Thomson roams the world from the Amazon to the depths of Hades,
searching for where poems come from.
And there many more poems to discover and authors to travel
with: over fifty in the Spring 2010 issue. We hope you’re as excited as
we are to open the pages of the next Ploughshares! Subscribe
today and start off your 2010 subscription with Elizabeth Strout’s