Sean Bishop Archive

Plagiarism as Pedagogy

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One of my best students was a plagiarizer. I felt stupid, when I found out—I had known her for two years, and I had worked with her intensively as her thesis adviser, for months. And I wasn’t the one who caught her, either, which was embarrassing because the poets

Books by Their Covers: best poetry presses, by design

Author: | Categories: Publishing 15 Comments
Here’s some Not-News-To-Anyone: poetry doesn’t sell itself. Successful first books, in particular, depend on a poet’s overall visibility online, a real-world group of friends and friends-of-friends to assist in writing and publishing reviews, the poet’s willingness to go on a thankless monetary sinkhole of a cross-country “tour” with several

Gatekeepers Part Four-point-Two: in defense of “telling” and sentimental preachiness

Author: | Categories: Writing 2 Comments
Two winters ago, brand-new to the creative writing community of Madison, Wisconsin, I was at ground zero of the national debate on union rights, caught in a throng of 70,000 protestors marching around the State Capitol, screaming “Whose Streets? Our Streets!,” “This Is What Democracy Looks Like!,” and “It’s

Gatekeepers Part Four-point-One: on why the [red] pen is mightier than the sword (and other politically useful clichés)

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Nearly ten years ago, when I was a twenty-year-old baby-poet with a sense of self-importance even more inflated than it is today, I organized a “Poetry in Protest” reading in Amherst, Massachusetts to demonstrate against what became, a couple months later, “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” My work screening manuscripts for

“Pineapples Don’t Have Sleeves”: On Assessing Absurdity

Author: | Categories: Reading 3 Comments
In the days immediately following my last post, in which I stumbled semi-sensically through the difficulties of assessing images that are designed (at least in part) to resist explanation, Facebook lit up with a series of articles about a talking pineapple that recently appeared on a New York Public

Gatekeepers (Part Three), on comparing apples to desperate, near-extinct marsupials braving the Pacific in coconut dinghies

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At its most basic, a literary editor’s job is a series of “either/or” decisions, or a long and hopefully-not-very-drunken game of “would you rather”: the editor takes a stack of poems/stories/essays and weighs them against each other to choose what gets published and what does not. This is the

Gatekeepers (Part Two), why my pop-music philistinism makes me fear for the poetic canon

Author: | Categories: Publishing, Writing 8 Comments
  Gatekeeper, seasons wait for your nod. / Gatekeeper, you held your breath, / made the summer go on and on.—Feist Here’s a confession, Ploughshares readers: I’m a musical dinosaur. I have an unabashed love for Green Day and Counting Crows, and I’ve listened to Wu Tang Clan’s 36

Gatekeepers (Part One), in which I play my flute in a meadow and lament The Death of the Editor

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Editors aren’t what they used to be. I admit that I don’t have much authority to say so: I’m young(ish), my editorial “career” spans a whopping four years, and I didn’t grow up with a quill-pen in the days before simultaneous submissions, hand-delivering my poems in the snow, up-hill