Literary Boroughs #5: Brooklyn, NY

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. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the fifth post on Brooklyn, New York by Melissa Sandor. -Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor

Valentino Pier

Come like a light in the white mackerel sky,
come like a daytime comet
with a long unnebulous train of words,
from Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, on this fine morning,
please come flying.
— Elizabeth Bishop, “Invitation to Miss Marianna Moore”


Born and bred Brooklyn – U.S.A.
They call me Adam Yauch – but I’m M.C.A.
— Beastie Boys, “No Sleep ‘til Brooklyn”

With 2.5+ million residents, Brooklyn is New York City’s most populous borough. Larger than Philadelphia and almost as big as Chicago with 71 square miles in total and 30 miles of waterfront, Brooklyn is a city unto itself and one with a rich literary legacy. Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed both Central Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, considered the latter to be his “masterpiece.” Today, the borough boasts more than 700 arts and cultural organizations and a multitude of events from the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Roulette to the home grown famed Brooklyn Flea, Coney Island’s annual Mermaid Parade, and open studio tours along Red Hook’s historic piers.

City:  Brooklyn

What the City is known for/what makes it unique:  The “If you believe that, then I have a Bridge to sell you” started in Brooklyn with the 8th wonder of the world famously sold many times over – The Brooklyn Bridge; Junior’s Cheesecake, The Cyclone, “Da Bums” Brooklyn’s heartbreakers, the Dodgers, Nathan’s Famous, Saturday Night Fever, DiFara Pizza and we can’t forget the world famous accent… fuggedaboutit!

A Sampling of resident literati (…easier to compile a list of writers who don’t live in Brooklyn.)

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Pushcart Prize Nominees for 2011

9781888889543.jpgWe just read the list of our contributors nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Official winners are announced in May. If selected, their work will be published in Volume XXXV of The Pushcart Prize: The Best of the Small Presses, which comes out in November.

Seems like a fair time to champion our wonderful authors, many of whom in past years have been chosen for the Pushcart. Cliff Garstang at Perpetual Folly has tallied Pushcarts for fiction since 2001. As of now, Ploughshares still holds the lead among literary magazines for prizes and special mentions earned.

Here are the 2011 nominees, published first in our journal:

WINTER 2008-09
(ed. Jean Valentine)

Reginald Dwayne Betts, “Ghazal”

Rebecca Morgan Frank, “Childless”

Ross Gay, “The Lion and the Gazelle”

Shara Lessley, “Field Song for Archey Valley in Her Mother’s Mother-Tongue”

SPRING 2009 (ed. Eleanor Wilner)


Jess Row, “Lives of the Saints”

Sasha Troyan, “Hidden Works”


Patrick Donnelly, “The Second Law”

Patricia Fargnoli, “Then”

Daisy Fried, “Kissinger at the Louvre (Three Drafts)”

Brigit Pegeen Kelly, “Rome”

Alicia Ostriker, “Demeter to Persephone”

Tim Seibles, “Allison Wolff”

Rebecca Seiferle, “Florescence on 4th Avenue” and “In Any Parking Lot”

Taije Silverman, “On Joy”

FALL 2009 (ed. Kathryn Harrison)


Jessamyn Hope, “Fig Leaf”

Laura Mullen, “Trust (Corps à corps)”

Fae Myenne Ng, “My Confusion Program, an Inheritance of Indecision”

Six Advisory Editors Make Poets & Writers’ Fifty Most Inspiring Authors List

Six of Ploughshares’ Advisory Editors have been chosen as some of the most inspiring authors in the world in a list compiled by Poets & Writers Magazine. Cornelius Eady, Donald Hall, Kathryn Harrison, Philip Levine, Tim O’Brien, and C.D. Wright have all guest-edited issues of Ploughshares. All are bold, innovative, and talented, and most definitely deserve the recognition they have been given.

The list was made to feature “fearless, inventive, persistant, beautiful, or just plain badass,” authors, those who “shake us awake, challenge our ideas of who we are, embolden our actions, and, above all, inspire us to live life more fully and creatively.”

Congratulations to our wonderful Advisory Editors! The full list can be viewed here.

Margot Livesey Welcomes Kathryn Harrison to Emerson College

margo.jpgMargot Livesey, the fiction editor of Ploughshares, welcomed Kathryn Harrison to Emerson College on October 1st 2009 with an eloquent speech praising the author. “Kathryn is one of those admirable writers who is not afraid to plunge into new material, new worlds,” she said. “And those new worlds are both interior and exterior.  As any reader of The Kiss and The Mother Knot knows she is a fearless pilgrim in the terrifying and arduous country of the self.”

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Richard Hoffman Welcomes Kathryn Harrison to Emerson College

umf-hoffman.gifOn October 1st, 2009 Richard Hoffman – author and Emerson College professor – introduced Fall 2009 Ploughshares guest-editor Kathryn Harrison at her Emerson College reading and afterward moderated a question and answer session with her.

“Harrison’s characters, like most if not all of us at some point in our lives, are looking for love in all the wrong places, usually because they are the only places — and people — available, and thereafter they must deal with the necessity of making meaning of those encounters — which is to say they must survive,” said Hoffman of Harrison in his introduction. “And this is to say, therefore, that Kathryn Harrison is one of our essential writers.”

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