Awards to Ploughshares Writers

Our congratulations to the following Ploughshares writers who work has been selected for these anthologies:

the o. henry prize stories 2013Best Stories: Jamie Quatro’s story “Sinkhole,” from the Spring 2012 issue edited by Nick Flynn, will appear in O. Henry Prize Stories 2013, selected by a prize jury of Lauren Groff, Edith Pearlman, and Jim Shepard. The anthology is due out September 2013, with Laura Furman as the series editor.

Best Stories Notables: Steve Almond’s story “Gondwana,” Matthew Neill Null’s story “Telemetry,” Timothy Schaffert’s Ploughshares Solo “Lady of the Burlesque Ballet,” and Megan Mayhew Bergman’s Ploughshares Solo “Phoenix” were named as notables by The Best American Stories 2013. The anthology was released this month, with Elizabeth Strout as the guest editor and Heidi Pitlor as the series editor.

Best Essays: Charles Baxter’s essay, “What Happens in Hell,” from the Fall 2012 issue edited by Patricia Hampl, has been selected for The Best American Essays 2013. The anthology was released this month, with Cheryl Strayed as the guest editor and Robert Atwan as the series editor.

bae2013Best Essays Notables: Mary Gordon’s essay “The Taste of Almonds,” was named as a notable by The Best American Essays 2013.

Best Poetry:  Major Jackson’s poem “Why I Write Poetry,” from the  Spring 2012 issue edited by Nick Flynn, has been selected for The Best American Poetry 2013. The anthology was released in September 2013, with Denise Duhamel as the guest editor and David Lehman as the series editor.

Pushcart: Eric Fair’s essay “Consequence” and Claudia Rankine’s poem “Excerpt from That Once Were Beautiful Children,” which both appeared in the Spring 2012 issue edited by Nick Flynn, and Charles Baxter’s essay, “What Happens in Hell,” from the Fall 2012 issue edited by Patricia Hampl, have been selected for The Pushcart Prize XXXVIII: Best of the Small Presses, which is due out November 2013 from Bill Henderson’s Pushcart Press.

 

Roundup: Reading it By Ear

In our Roundups segment, we’re looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009. We explore posts from our archives as well as other top literary magazines and websites, centered on a certain theme to help you jump-start your week.

We’ve had a few posts lately at our blog about the aural aspects of writing, so we decided to roundup some posts on the connection of silent, physical writing to the act of reading, speaking, and listening.

From Ploughshares:

  • 4808475862_01243f6740We recently posted Amber Kelly-Anderson’s “Writing by Ear,” where she advises you to play with your words, Seuss-like.
  • Thomas Lee asks if you should really try to recreate how people really speak with your dialogue – or if it just sounds fake – in “The Way We Talk.”

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Pop Survey: Do You Write in Your Books?

It’s a digital age, but we’re still mad for paper! Even as readers embrace the connectivity and convenience offered by iPads and Kindles, there are still many good reasons to celebrate a book’s physicality. In PloughsharesBook Arts series, we’ll be looking at some of the artists, curators, and craftspeople who work to keep things fresh and relevant.

Jane Buyers, Notes on Macbeth: Enter Lady Macbeth, 2004. Lithograph, etching, chine colle. 81.5 x 102 cm. Photo credit: Laura Arsie. (Via Numero Cinq, used with permission.)

Marginal notes re-purposed to create fine art: “A black rose is planted over the scrawled notes of some long ago student struggling with the text of Macbeth….The student’s handwriting is so uncertain and you feel the tremendous desire to understand. I like the anxiety and striving to grasp the meaning of the printed word.” Jane Buyers, Notes on Macbeth: Enter Lady Macbeth, 2004. Lithograph, etching, chine colle. 81.5 x 102 cm. Photo credit: Laura Arsie. (Via Numéro Cinq, used with permission. Visit NC’s site for the full interview.)

Okay, Ploughsharers, it’s time to share some of your opinions! Today we’re taking a little squiggly, ink-stained side road in our journey through book arts with a special question just for you:

Do you write in your books?

Or do you prefer to keep them pristine?

(Tell us in the comments section below!)

Readers are a passionate bunch. I did a little informal pre-survey of some of my friends and found the responses ranged from horrified gasps of “No, never!” to enthusiastic, fist-pounding  “Hells, yeahs!”

Along the way, I gathered some colorful (and sometimes methodically color-coded) stories I’d like to share with you.

A Confession

But first a confession. I’m a careful abstainer, a longtime, diehard member of the Keep It Pristine club.

A conservative approach: My copy of Don Delillo's Mao II from the mid-1990s with its tiny scrap of Post-It still sticking strong.

A conservative approach: My copy of Don DeLillo’s Mao II from the mid-1990s, its tiny shred of Post-it still sticking fast to a passage I loved.

Writing instruments never touch my reading materials. I’ll mark pages and passages with a Post-it, jotting down my thoughts, with their corresponding page numbers, in a notebook. There’s always a crisp roll of Brodart book jacket covers at the ready in my desk drawer.  I take care to use bookmarks and never dog-ear. My books are scrupulously clean.

Doesn’t sound like much of a confession, does it?

Well, here’s the thing: I’ve always somehow wished I was the kind of person who wrote in books, who was so full of spontaneous creativity, literary passion and spark that I just had to scrawl all over them. Once, as a teenager, I even tried to deliberately cultivate the habit, but my heart just wasn’t in it and the whole thing felt contrived. As I self-consciously circled and underlined and annotated, all I could think was You’re ruining that book.Continue Reading

Writers and Their Pets: Megan Mayhew Bergman

The ‘Writers and Their Pets’ series began with my own desire to celebrate my dog Sally, and over the coming months I will also invite other writers to share with the rest of us the details of their lives with beloved pets.

We also ask contributors to the series to tell us about their favorite pets from literature. Megan told us that “I’ve always wanted to give Emily Dickinson a hug over the loss of Carlo, her Newfoundland. His loss devastated her. I get that. Also—I have a suspicion that Dickinson would prefer I keep my indiscriminate hugs to myself.”

We hope you enjoy Megan’s essay.

—Ladette Randolph, Editor-in-Chief

MMBwithanimals

Sometimes, when people find out I live with a veterinarian husband (and veterinarian father-in-law) they ask:  is it hard, him bringing home all those pets?

Uh, no. It isn’t. Because I’m the one bringing home the pets. I have the bleeding heart; Bo is just my enabler. A cat comes into the clinic with one eye shot out in a trailer park? Bring him home. The beagle no one wants who throws up in the car, doesn’t know how to walk on a leash, and is afraid of snow? Mine. The cage-crazy spaniel mix with Muppet feet and an under-bite who hunts rabbits and eats underwear? I’ll take her.

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Our Gift to You: Free Ploughshares Solo

Happy (almost) New Year!  2012 was a great year for Ploughshares.  We published three issues edited by Nick Flynn, Patricia Hampl, and our very own Ladette Randolph and John Skoyles.  In addition, we kept busy with blog posts by guest bloggers and debuted our Ploughshares Solos series. Read more about our year here.

We’re looking forward to another year of fabulous writing, good reading, and fascinating blog posts.  To end 2012 on good note, we want you to have a free copy of one of our favorite Ploughshares Solos: “Escape and Reverse” by Chelsey Johnson.

“Escape and Reverse” is available for free from the Kindle store December 27- 31 only!  Make sure to download your copy before the end of the year.  And while you’re there, check out our other Ploughshares Solos:

  • “Lady of the Burlesque Ballet” by Timothy Schaffert – $0.99 on Kindle
  • “Daydream Nation” by John Duncan Talbird – $1.99 on Kindle and Nook
  • “Phoenix” by Megan Mayhew Bergman – $0.99 on Kindle and Nook
  • “All of Us, We All Are Arameans” by Eileen Pollack – $0.99 on Kindle and Nook

We hope you have a happy and festive New Year!  The Ploughshares staff will be back in the office on January 2 ready for another year.

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Roundup: Craft

As we look forward to updating the Ploughshares blog for the new year, we’re also looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009.  Our roundups explore the archives and gather past posts around a certain theme to help you jump-start your week.  This week we have posts on the craft of writing.

Many books have been published on the craft of writing.  The topics can range from big picture discussions of the structure of a novel to detailed examinations of sentence structure.  From time to time, our guest bloggers have weighed in on the subject of craft, and this week we’re bringing you some of those posts.

Roundup: On Reading

As we look forward to updating the Ploughshares blog for the new year, we’re also looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009.  Our roundups explore the archives and gather past posts around a certain theme to help you jump-start your week.  This week we have posts on reading.

We’ve been doing a lot of roundups on aspects of writing, so I think it’s time we take a look at the other half of the Ploughshares equation: reading.  A literary magazine, after all, cannot survive without a healthy readership.  Also, at a reading last week at Emerson College, Tobias Wolff said “All the writers I know are voracious readers.”  So whether you are a reader, or a writer/reader, here are some posts on the state of reading.

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Roundup: Writing advice, tips, and lists

As we look forward to updating the Ploughshares blog for the new year, we’re also looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009.  Our roundups explore the archives and gather past posts around a certain theme to help you jump-start your week.  This week we have posts on with writing advice, tips, and lists.

Last week we saw someone tweet this collection of writing rules from famous writers.  We loved the lists of rules so much, this week we gathered posts that contain writing advice and tips (some in list form).

Third Pshares Single Published: Phoenix by Megan Mayhew Bergman

Our Pshares Singles eBook series allows us to publish long-form submissions every month in a format that is affordable and easily accessible.  We’ve had a great response to our first two Pshares Singles, Timothy Schaffert’s “Lady of the Burlesque Ballet” and John Duncan Talbird’s “Daydream Nation.”  We’re excited to announce the third addition to our series: “Phoenix” by Megan Mayhew Bergman.

Working off the books at a small goat farm in Vermont, without a birth certificate, a driver’s license, or a credit card, Phoenix is as close as a young person can get to disappearing in modern America. Intelligent and lonely, the child of free-spirited parents, she takes her modest pay at the farm and waits for a sense of what her next step should be. As she navigates the mysteries of her own birth and parentage, and lives with the crumbling marriage of the couple that owns the farm, Phoenix looks for direction through her work and her care of another lonely creature, a wounded goat named Jesus.

Available for $0.99 on Kindle and Nook.

An excerpt from the story:

     My parents, I learned at an early age, are not the kind of people the world cheers on.Continue Reading

From Bennington to Book Tour: A Life-of-Letters Q&A

Last weekend I had the privilege to travel up to Bennington College, where I spoke on a Life of Letters panel with friend (and fellow Ploughshares contributor/guest blogger) Megan Mayhew Bergman. Megan and I are both alums of Bennington’s low-residency MFA program; I graduated in 2009, Megan in 2010. We sat down in the Symposium conference room (modeled after the U.N.) in the gorgeous new CAPA facility and talked with current students about our shared experience of publishing a story collection—Megan’s already out in the world, mine still on the way. Our hope was that the conversation would be both encouraging and instructive. I’m happy to share the highlights of our talk with Ploughshares readers!

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