Farewell to Andrea

Andrea Martucci headshotToday we bid a fond farewell to Ploughshares Managing Editor Andrea Martucci. Andrea joined the Ploughshares staff in late 2009, and never stopped looking for opportunities for growth and innovation. In the four years she has managed daily operations, business, and marketing strategy for Ploughshares, Andrea has more than doubled the magazine’s circulation and increased revenue 316%. She has also helped lead Ploughshares into the digital age, introducing intitatives that lead to a large and active web presence and our Ploughshares Solos series for e-readers. Andrea is leaving us to become the Vice President of Marketing at AdSpace Communications. In her absence, we’re excited to announce that Ellen Duffer will be stepping in as Ploughshares‘ Interim Managing Editor. Andrea’s shoes will be hard to fill, but we’re confident that Ellen will be up to the challenge.

This week we talked with Andrea about her work at Ploughshares, some of her largest achievements, and what comes next.

During your tenure as Managing Editor, Ploughshares launched a blog, developed a large social media following, and started the Ploughshares Solos series of digital-first long stories and essays. Can you talk about your role in helping Ploughshares innovate to take advantage of new technology and the Internet?

When people ask me what I do at Ploughshares, I tell them I “do what needs to be done.” When I started in 2009, we had a great marketing intern who had just set up a Twitter account and a Facebook profile. The blog was the next logical step, and when it launched in December 2009, it was mainly a clearinghouse for announcements and expanded contributor’s notes – in other words, it was still just a more timely extension of the print publication.

As I became savvier in the ways of blogs and social media, I brought on new contributors and guided the direction of the content. Now the blog has a life of its own and the mission is to create interest in Ploughshares by hosting content that literary readers are interested in. Although I have guided the big-picture mission, most of the day-to-day work of social media has been executed first by our blog interns, then eventually our marketing assistant and marketing interns, and our blog is now almost completely run by our excellent blog editor, Andrew Ladd.Continue Reading

Literary Boroughs #24: Richmond, Virginia

The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the twenty-fourth post on Richmond, Virginia by Dave Sterner. —Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor

It’s a city dissected from itself, a place of conflict and repurposing that accidently immolated half of its urban core rather than capitulate to Confederate defeat. This once mighty capital city has played host to innumerable events and memorable characters throughout history. Once solidly the cultural center of Virginia, if not the South, it has faltered and lost its way a bit, but continues to redefine its own expectations and is experiencing yet another resurgence. The most Southern of East Coast cities, it has been home and incubator for some of the more interesting voices in American letters since Patrick Henry called for Death over the repeal of liberty at the Virginia Convention.

Quick Info:

Richmond, Virginia (aka, Fist City, Cap City, RVA, Tha R.I.C, The River City)

Location: 

An hour from the mountains, an hour from the beach and maybe an hour and a half on a good day from D.C.—It’s smack in the middle of most everything Virginia has on offer.

Continue Reading

Literary Boroughs #15: Indianapolis, IN

The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the fifteenth post on Indianapolis, Indiana by Allison Lynn. -Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor

Moving from New York City to Indianapolis two years ago, I was struck by the contrast: Indy has few bookstores, a diffuse arts culture, a mind-bending lack of respect for traffic laws, and pretty much nothing in the way of lobster rolls. Eight out of ten bars have flat-screen TVs playing Colts games on repeat. When it snows (and we’ve seen a few big dumps), the city doesn’t plow most of the streets. Yet bookish types in Indy have discovered the holy grail of any artist’s existence: easy living and cheap real estate. If Virginia Woolf had lived here, she’d have had a whole Arts and Crafts cottage to herself. With a detached garage.

And where the living is cheap, art blooms.

City: Indianapolis, Indiana

What the city is best known for: Pork tenderloin, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Colts, the Indy 500, the 2012 Superbowl. The NCAA is based in Indy — it’s a sports town. It’s also the state capital.

Literary pedigree: Kurt Vonnegut and Booth Tarkington are the city’s literary patron saints. Both were born and raised in Indy, and both graduated from the city’s Shortridge High School. In 2011, the Kurt Vonnegut Library opened up in a downtown storefront. It’s the kind of grassroots labor-of-love that may as well symbolize the whole heartfelt enterprise that is Literary Indianapolis.

Today the city’s resident writers include Dan Barden, Michael Dahlie, Chris Forhan, Hilene Flanzbaum, Brian Furuness, John Green, Lou Harry, Karen Kovacik, Andy Levy, Alessandra Lynch, Susan Neville, Andrew Scott, Barbara Shoup, Dan Wakefield, and Ben Winters.

Efroymson Center

Where to learn: I’m biased here, since my husband and I moved to Indianapolis to teach at Butler University. Butler launched the city’s first MFA program five years ago and has become the city’s go-to destination for the study of creative writing – in an academic environment, at least. Thanks to a generous donation, the department recently opened the Efroymson Center for Creative Writing – a house where you’ll find readings, workshops and book talks for Butler students and the community at large. The building’s a beauty: wood paneling, funky upholstery, coffee in the kitchen, and a guest-writer apartment that’s recently hosted Nicole Krauss, Maile Meloy, Maud Newton and Mark Kurlansky. To boot, Butler is home to the Delbrook Reading Series, which brings writers like Margaret Atwood, Yi-Yun Li, Yusef Komunyakaa, Major Jackson, Jennifer Egan, and Chuck Klosterman to campus.

Outside the campus setting, the Indiana Writers Center offers a wide array of classes for writers of all levels working in all genres. Each fall, the center’s Gathering of Writers brings together the state’s most accomplished authors for a day of craft classes and panel discussions.

Hubbard & Cravens

Where to write: In addition to affordable rents, Indy excels in the coffee and beer departments. Head to either of the main branches of Hubbard and Cravens — a coffee chain that roasts its beans locally — and you’ll find novelists, poets, English profs, marketing writers, and freelance editors hunched over their computers. As for beer, there’s nothing like a lonely night at home, in the basement, despairing over your clear lack of talent, crying into your keyboard with a freshly filled growler of Sun King’s local cream ale at your side.

Where to publish: Engine Books, a small press run by writer Victoria Barrett, put Indianapolis publishing on the map in the past year with the release of Patricia Henley’s story collection Other Heartbreaks and Myfanwy Collins’s novel Echolocation. Victoria’s an old-school editor/publisher, wading through the revision muck with her authors and calling up bookstores across the country to plug her list.

Pressgang, also a small book publisher, launched out of Butler’s Efroymson Center this spring with the release of Monsters: A Collection of Literary Sightings (edited by BJ Hollers, with contributions by Bonnie Jo Campbell, Ben Percy and Aimee Bender). The press is headed by Bryan Furuness, whose own first novel, The Lost Episodes of Revie Bryson, comes out from Dznac’s Black Lawrence Press later this year. Publishing may be dying (or may not be), but in Indianapolis, it’s also being born.

Events: In addition to the literary events held at Butler and IUPUI (Indianapolis’s joint campus of Indiana University and Purdue), you’ll find readings scattered around town in places like defunct theaters, usually with food trucks parked outside.

Indianapolis’s writers have a firm commitment to the city, as evidenced by Big Car, an organization that started as an art gallery and morphed into a group that’s all things community/creativity. In collaboration with their youth-writing initiative, Second Story, this past spring Big Car put up a show of neighborhood narratives (told in words, pictures and video) at their Service Station, a one-time tire dealership turned arts center/community garden.

Indianapolis Central Library

Where to find reading material: This is where things get tough. There’s one traditional bookstore left in the city. Big Hat Books, in the Broad Ripple arts district, is run by Elizabeth Houghton Barden – a fierce local advocate making a go of it in a city that hasn’t been kind to bookstores. Barden is a hand-selling pro and keeps the front counter stocked with NYRB Classics. Recent in-store events have included a talk with Nancy Pelosi and a book party for The Next Right Thing, the latest novel by Barden’s husband, fiction writer Dan Barden.

You’ll also find a couple of Barnes and Nobles in the malls on the outskirts of the city, but ever since Borders closed its doors, there hasn’t been a general interest bookstore in the heart of downtown. This may not be a problem – plenty of locals will tell you they never shop downtown anyway – but to some of us it’s an issue. The situation may be changing, though: this summer, Indy Reads Books, a bright and modern storefront selling used books opened on the up-and-coming north end of downtown’s Mass Ave. All sales from the store benefit adult literacy, and in addition to selling books, they’ve been hosting local author events and writing workshops.

There is an excellent library downtown. A splashy 2007 renovation merged the original 1917 limestone Greek Doric structure with an eye-popping glass-and-steel addition. The government here doesn’t like to spend money, and any talk with Hoosiers about the project will leave you with the clear understanding that post-recession this massive renovation would never have happened. So let’s all toast the boom years. The new Central Library is a marvel. It’d make anyone want to read.

Next post: September 7 | Atlanta, GA …

BIO: Allison Lynn is the author of the novels Now You See It (2004) and The Exiles (forthcoming in 2013). Her articles and reviews have appeared in publications ranging from PEOPLE magazine to the New York Times Book Review. She’s taught writing at New York University, Lehigh, and currently Butler. Allison lived in NYC for nearly two decades before relocating to Indianapolis, a Midwestern city with miraculously good bagels.

 

(Image of city is a creative commons photo from here. All other photos are by the author.)

Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section!

 

Literary Boroughs #14: Montpelier, Vermont

The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the fourteenth post on Montpelier, Vermont by Kris Underwood. -Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor

Situated in the valley of the Green Mountains, Montpelier has been called quaint, idyllic, and weird. The locals have taken to calling it “Montpeculiar.” Full of writers, poets, musicians as well as lawyers and statesmen/women, the city is home to the Vermont Statehouse, Hubbard Park and a branch of the Winooski River, which runs through the downtown area. The winters here are something to be reckoned with-it has not been unheard of to get three or more feet of snow from a single storm and below freezing temperatures in January (one year: -20 degrees Fahrenheit).  Summertime and fall are the best time to visit-there are more things to do and see. Fall is usually tourist season with picture-perfect New England vistas.

Continue Reading

Literary Boroughs #13: Los Angeles, California

The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the eleventh post on Los Angeles, California by Chris Daley. -Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor

When silent films gave way to talkies, the flood of writers who came to Los Angeles for easy Hollywood money jumpstarted the city’s literary life. Suddenly home to literary darlings like Faulkner and Fitzgerald, LA started to develop and disseminate its identity as a land of dreams at the end of the world. Since then, the writers who made their home in LA often found themselves hidden in New York’s very long shadow. Yet over the past few decades, as more and more diverse and sophisticated literature has been produced in and about Los Angeles, the city has come into its own.

The literary life of Los Angeles is like a newly discovered shortcut or a charming local bistro. You sort of don’t want anyone to know about it for fear it might get ruined, but you don’t want to be greedy. The most common response from people who heard I was writing a dissertation on Los Angeles literature was “There’s literature in Los Angeles?” Their ignorance is our bliss. The writers and readers of Los Angeles know we are blessed to have a thriving independent bookstore industry, some of the most active and accomplished writers and publications in the U.S., and dozens of literary events every night of the week. The literary community is the perfect size—big enough to afford the opportunity to constantly meet new writers and small enough to feel the kind of network support you’d find in a much smaller city.

Continue Reading

Literary Boroughs #12: Verona, New Jersey

The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the twelfth post on Verona, New Jersey by Tracy Bermeo. -Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor

Hilltop Reservation

Located about 15 miles west of New York City, Verona sits tucked among the larger towns of Caldwell, birthplace of Grover Cleveland; West Orange, home to Thomas Edison; and Montclair, often referred to as a suburban Hoboken. The “Norman Rockwell setting” of Verona is picturesque on any given day: the neighborhood elementary schools are within walking distance from home, and the beautifully designed storefronts create a welcoming town center. Community spirit is as strong as the draw to Verona Park, which is active year-round with two large playgrounds, tennis courts, paddleboats on the lake in summer, and ice skating in winter.

Continue Reading

Literary Boroughs #11: Washington, D.C.

The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the eleventh post on Washington, D.C. by Lacey N. Dunham. -Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor

The Washington, D.C. literary scene is too frequently overshadowed by Washington’s major industry: the federal government. Wedged between Maryland and Virginia on the east coast, D.C. is the hidden home to a diverse array of writers, past and present. Whether we’re hunkering down with our Moleskines and Le Pens in Logan Circle, Rock Creek Park, or near the panda exhibit at the National Zoo, Washingtonians are experts at ducking tourists in fanny packs and knee-length shorts in order to jot the perfect sentence.

City: Washington, D.C.

What Washington, D.C. is known for:

Scandals! Bureaucracy! Marion Barry! The West Wing!

What makes Washington, D.C. unique:

Politically, D.C. is the center of the federal government, yet residents of the District have no political representation in Congress. The city budget and all city laws (including those passed by resident majority vote) are reviewed annually for Congressional approval. Think about that next time you complain about paying taxes (ahem, Tea Partiers).

Resident writers:

Continue Reading

Literary Boroughs #10: Asheville, North Carolina

The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the tenth post on Asheville, North Carolina by Catherine Campbell. -Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor

Asheville, the “Paris of the South,” is home to thousands of artists, including painters, dancers, sculptors and writers. The mountain town has been called both a “freak capital” and “the torn notch of the Bible Belt,” while also voted as one of the “Top 10 Most Beautiful Places in America” and one of the top seven places to live.

The city feels like a retreat from anywhere. Writers come here to take time with their craft, study and establish their art. Some people just want to kick back with a book after hiking all day. With its city conveniences nestled in a pastoral setting, it offers a great spot for both.

Continue Reading

Literary Boroughs #9: Berkeley, California

The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the ninth post on Berkeley, California by Andrew David King. -Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor

What have I lost? Spook singer, hold your tongue.
I sing a newer song no ghost-bird sings.
My tongue is sharpened on the iron’s edge.
Canaries need no trees. They have their cage.

- Jack Spicer, “A Postscript to the Berkeley Renaissance,” 1954

There are two cities called Berkeley—the city of the nation’s imagination, and the city as it actually exists—and they are constantly at odds. Popular media would have one believe that this suburb with a gaze through the Golden Gate’s columns is filled with politicos who are so far left, they’ve come full circle back to right. There are activists and the socially conscious, but such a depiction isn’t the only truth of this town; Berkeley is filled with as many stripes of ideology as flavors in the gelato stores that line Shattuck Avenue. And it is filled with histories humming alongside each other: that of the Vietnam War protests, the Beats, the Berkeley Renaissance, and the discovery of new elements of the periodic table. It’s no coincidence that Berkeley is named for the poet and philosopher George Berkeley, whose idealist philosophy suggests that all exists only in the minds of perceivers. The city’s made rich by the beehive of students at the University of California and those who, moved by art or history, make pilgrimages here. The campus sits at the base of the Mediterranean-looking East Bay ridges (“…The ripened brown of these magnificent hills… reminds me of my beloved Greece,” said University of California President Benjamin Ide Wheeler in an 1899 address to the student body), but it is not the center of town, per se; it is one center in a city that spins on countless axes.

Continue Reading

Literary Boroughs #8: Buffalo, New York

The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the eighth post on Buffalo, New York by Josh Smith. -Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor

Local artist Michael Morgulis once described Buffalo, NY as “the City of No Illusions.” Since 1977, that moniker has stayed with Buffalo alongside its other names which include, “the Nickel City” and “the City of Good Neighbors.”

History buffs know it as the home of two U.S. presidents. Game show marathons might tell you that Buffalo produced both the electric chair and world’s first movie theater. And travelers know it as a border city that serves as the proverbial stargate between the United States and Canada.

Continue Reading