There are writers to watch for, and then there are writers to watch out for. A sampling of the latter, for your safety:
10) Jack Hogue is a great guy, but if you listen to him for more than five minutes, you’ll believe the publishing world, if not the world itself, has come to an end. Do you know how much he made on his last collection? Negative seven thousand dollars, because he tore his ACL carrying around bags of his own books to conferences his publisher wouldn’t pay to send him to, and also our insurance system is broken. He’ll probably never write again, but at least he has tenure now, so he can pretty much just drink all day in his office. Here, let him buy you a gimlet. Follow him into the abyss.
9) Warby Graham is kind of shocked that you haven’t heard of all these incredibly important twenty-two-year-old writers who live in his building in Williamsburg, but then maybe that’s because you’re super old. No offense but aren’t you, like, thirty? Yeah, that’s probably why. They’re all into something called Metaflarf, which it’s amazing you haven’t been following, because it’s probably the most important literary movement since that thing where you make paper hats out of David Foster Wallace’s endpapers.
8) Denise Cuhaj has no boundaries. She will put your hand on her tattoo and make you feel it with your eyes closed. She’s a close-talker, which wouldn’t be so upsetting if she weren’t telling you how you were in her dream last night, carrying her around in a blanket. Continue Reading
Needless to say, we will all dress like this
I’m in that small and shrinking group of writers who don’t have MFAs. Which I think makes me uniquely qualified to start my own MFA program. Haven’t most education reformers come from outside the system? My program will, for starters, involve napping and swimming pools. And the course offerings will be much more practical than “Problems in Modern Fiction.” We’ll cover the things you need to know. (The writing part you can figure out on your own.) I herewith present my 2015-2016 course catalog.Continue Reading
I wasn’t expecting my friend D to smash the green anole with a rock. But he did, and the lizard’s insides smeared red against the concrete driveway. Its eyes, black and bleeding, sunk into its tiny skull. We were nine.
I’d caught the green anole in the tree down the street. We caught brown ones all the time, and sometimes giant Cuban anoles, bumpy and long as our forearms. But the finger-length green anoles—those were something to celebrate. They were what we deemed rare. Before D smashed the lizard, we sat, he and my brother and I, passing the anole around, letting it slip over our browned knuckles. It was beautiful: bright green, white-bellied, soft. And then the rock came down. D broke the squirming lizard in one swift move.
Lucas Southworth’s short story collection, Everyone Here Has a Gun, the winner of the 2012 Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, packs a similar punch. The stories are tense, gritty, and dark, full of sons raised to kill fathers and boys nailing chipmunks to walls. These characters hover at the edge of disaster. They exist in the unsettling shadows between innocence and violence.
Recently, I put cream cheese, Nutella, and orange zest between two pieces of bread and cooked it up like a grilled cheese. A little butter, a hot pan. Grilled cheese is tried and true. It doesn’t need improvement. But I saw the recipe (though for grilled cheese, I’d call “recipe” a stretch) in this book and had to try it.
I was skeptical. But, you guys. That sandwich was so good. It was warm (duh) and melty (duh) and bittersweet. Perfect for chilly weather, which we are getting plenty of here in Iowa.
Julian Hoffman’s essay collection, the small heart of things, and our blog editor Andrew Ladd’s novel, What Ends—both 2012 AWP Award winners—are a lot like that toasty sandwich. The two seemingly different narratives—also warm and bittersweet—cross the 3,664 kilometers of land and sea between their settings to tackle the complex, emotionally hefty topic of “home.”
(I’ll be discussing the other two winners of the 2012 AWP Award, Joan Naviyuk Kane’s poetry collection Hyperboreal, and Lucas Southworth’s story collection Everyone Here Has A Gun, in a later column.)
It’s summer! Time to get out those binoculars and spot some writers. If you are unable to find writers, a simple whiskey trail should suffice to lure them to your backyard. Be on the lookout for these newly identified species.
The dead foreign writer who wrote eight 6,000-page recently translated novels that everyone but you somehow has time to discover and read and talk about over the course of one summer, and what the hell, don’t you people have jobs?
The writer who’s famous only among writers. And not necessarily for his work, good as it may be—but for rustic fashion sense or scandalous antics at writers’ conferences in the ‘80s or his charming southern drawl. You realize, to your shock, that your non-writer friends have never heard of the guy. You try to explain: but at AWP, he’s like Elvis! They don’t get it.Continue Reading
At AWP 2013 in Boston, author Melanie Rae Thon read the following during the panel “The Literary Legacy of Andre Dubus.” Ploughshares founding editor DeWitt Henry attended the panel, and thought the piece was so beautiful that, with Melanie’s permission, we are reproducing it here. —Andrew Ladd, blog editor
In the introduction to Fires in the Mirror, Anna Deavere Smith asks: Does the inability to empathize start with an inhibition, a reluctance to see?
When I first encountered the work of Andre Dubus, I was arrested by his bold lack of inhibition, his willingness to imagine and render the inner lives of all his people. His stories reminded me that everyone has his grief: the murderer knows despair; the rapist has been wounded. Goethe said, “There is no crime of which I cannot conceive myself guilty.” In Frank Bidart’s poem, “The War of Vaslav Nijinsky,” the dancer confesses: “I know people’s faults / because in my soul, / I HAVE COMMITTED THEM.” I believe Andre Dubus was a man who understood this kind of intimate turmoil, the fear that his own impulses made him both vulnerable and dangerous, the conviction that a man who witnesses an act of violence and does nothing is as much to blame as the one who commits it.
Monday morning, two days post-AWP, your 2013 Boston Tote Bag filled with literary swag: postcards, pins, temporary tattoos, and journals. You have a renewed energy. Yes, this is the year. You will submit—over and over again if necessary—and you will get published.
For those of you who have never been to AWP or have no idea what it is, it’s the nation’s largest literary conference, sponsored by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and this year it took place in Boston. (For all who attended, I hope you stopped by the Ploughshares booth and introduced yourself—and then raced home to polish up your entry for the Emerging Writers Contest.
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!
No need to be coy. Step right up and behold: the pre-AWP13 post you’ve all been waiting for!
Now, some of you may already know that Ploughshares is based in Boston, the very city that will be teeming with hordes of AWP attendees in a matter of days. Much like zombies (who also come in hordes), AWP attendees want your brains…or at least what’s in them. To prevent a bloodbath, I’ve taken the liberty of picking the brains of AWP veterans to help you get the most out of AWP13.
But before we get to that, here are some other posts on the web you might want to check out to amp you up for the conference.
Onward to the advice!
From Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods, and Editor of The Collagist:
A lot of first-time AWP participants see it as an opportunity for networking, so let me offer this advice: Good networking probably isn’t what you’ve been told it is. It’s not business cards or sample chapters of your memoir, it’s not about platforms or Twitter followers or Klout scores. It’s certainly not hunting editors and publishers and MFA application readers like book fair big game. Good networking is genuine enthusiasm for others and for what those others care about or make.