Winter 2009-10 Reviewed in New Pages

As we wrap four grwinter cover.JPGeat months with Tony Hoagland and company, we’ll leave you with this review in New Pages of the Winter 2009-10 issue of Ploughshares.

Angela Sweeney praises Hoagland for “choosing to pair works of transcendentalism and realism in such a way that brings out the best of both. Each piece varies in style from the previous one, serving to continually cleanse the palate and keep each work fresh.”

She pulls out three pieces that spoke to this effect: Christian Barter‘s “Heisenberg,” which she calls “one of the more thoughtful poems of the issue”; David Stuart MacLean‘s “The Answer to the Riddle is Me,” fusing memory with identity; and Adrian Blevins‘ “The Waning,” a “vivid” reflection on the aging process.

“Hoagland organizes the issue in a way that keeps the mind alive from cover to cover,” Sweeney concludes her review. Read the whole article here.

Marc J. Straus, Winter 2009-10 Contributor

Picture 2.jpgOur final Contributor’s Annex for the Tony Hoagland issue! Thanks to all our Contributors for their insight and support.

Marc J. Straus has three collections of poems from TriQuarterly Books-Northwestern University Press: One Word (1994), Symmetry (2000), and Not God (2006), the latter, a play in verse that had its premier stage production at Luna Stage in Montclair, NJ, April – May 2009. He practices medical oncology.

Straus’ poem “Mrs. Abernathy” appears in the Winter 2009-10 edition of Ploughshares, guest edited by Tony Hoagland. View the Winter 2009-10 issue.


An excerpt from “Mrs. Abernathy”:

“Soft trees against blue sky.” That is how
Mrs. Abernathy described it
before she died. “A small barn bent further
than my arthritic spine…

After the jump, Straus talks about his poetic experiences with patients, including the one remarkable woman who inspired this piece.

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Kathryn Starbuck, Winter 2009-10 Contributor

ks official 2.jpgKathryn Starbuck is the author of Griefmania, from Sheep Meadow Press, 2006. (Read “Thinking of John Clare” from Griefmania here.) Her poems appear in The Best American Poems 2008, The New Republic, The Gettysburg Review, The New Yorker, Poetry, AGNI Online, Harvard Review and elsewhere. She edited two volumes of George Starbuck’s poems.

Starbuck’s poem “Often Things Went Wrong” appeared in the Winter 2009-10 edition of Ploughshares, guest edited by Tony Hoagland. View the Winter 2009-10 issue.

An excerpt from “Often Things Went Wrong”:

Can we retire
from sex just
as naturally
as we retire
from a job?

After the jump, Starbuck reveals how Graham Greene inspired her (or did he?), as well as her most significant revision.

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Lisa Russ Spaar, Winter 2009-10 Contributor

spaar.photo.jpgLisa Russ Spaar‘s most recent poetry collection is Satin Cash (read “The Geese,” or other excerpts here). She edited Acquainted with the Night: Insomnia Poems and All That Mighty Heart: London Poems, and appears in Best American Poetry 2008. Her prizes include a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rona Jaffe Award. She teaches at the University of Virginia. Her work appeared in the Winter 1996-97 Ploughshares, as well.

Spaar’s poems “Goldfinches” and “Whether” appeared in the Winter 2009-10 edition of Ploughshares, guest edited by Tony Hoagland. View the Winter 2009-10 issue.

After the jump, Spaar recalls the inception of these poems during her Lenten writing rituals, and shares passages from her work.

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Ploughshares Presents Tony Hoagland

We were honored to have Tony Hoagland pay a visit to the Paramount Center back in February. At long last — the official videos are here! You can also check out our Pshares page on YouTube.

Some of our favorite moments:

“I tell my own students, I say you can eat junk food all day long, but you could eat some fruits and vegetables as well. Those empty calories are going to get you into trouble… So I think it is good to read good poetry. But the problem is, when you’re a young reader, you don’t exactly know what that means.”

“Thank God for stanzas, because I’m a formless person. I was weaned in a time of free verse.”

“You know how Moby Dick starts off with that beautiful aria about how people look at the water on a Sunday? You can see them all gazing out to sea. Well, construction sites are just like that for men.”

Part I: Tony Hoagland’s Q&A

Part II: Tony Hoagland’s Poetry Reading
(Watch Tony read from Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty (“Demolition” and “Foghorn”), plus Alicia Jo Rabins’ “How You Came to Be” from our Winter 2009-10 issue.)

Elizabeth Smither, Winter 2009-10 Contributor

liz_74733.jpgElizabeth Smither was New Zealand poet laureate (2001-3). She has published fifteen collections of poetry as well as novels and short stories. In 2008 she was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry. Click here to read (and hear Smither read) some of her work.

Smither’s poem “How Music is Made” was published in the Winter 2009-10 edition of Ploughshares, guest edited by Tony Hoagland. View the Winter 2009-10 issue.

Excerpt from “How Music is Made”:

a lesser storm is passing through, though
portents in the base show the wait

will not be long. You’re needed and the horns around
raise their snouts like hunting animals and pounce

in the stream with splashing shouts of sound.

After the jump, Smither recalls the “cacophony” that inspired her poem.

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Katherine Smith, Winter 2009-10 Contributor

Katherine Smith.jpg
Katherine Smith‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming in a number of journals and reviews, among them Shenandoah, Fiction International, Poetry, The Southern Review, Appalachian Heritage, Atlanta Review, Gargoyle, The Baltimore Review, Poems and Plays, and The Louisville Review. Her first book, Argument by Design, won the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Poetry Prize and appeared in 2003. A Tennessean, she currently teaches at Montgomery College in Germantown, Maryland and serves as poetry editor for The Potomac Review.
Smith’s poem “Provide” was published in the Winter 2009-10 edition of Ploughshares, guest edited by Tony Hoagland. View the Winter 2009-10 issue.

An excerpt from “Provide”:

Midwinter provides another meaning,
by which I mean that other, more elusive, pleasure

I know when I see, first, a lone brown mare fetlock deep in mud
ripping pale green alfalfa from a bale

After the jump, Smith shares how the work of Robert Frost has bewitched and bewildered her.

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Alicia Jo Rabins, Winter 2009-10 Contributor

AJRstairs(2).jpgAlicia Jo Rabins, Brooklyn-based poet and musician, received her MFA from Warren Wilson. Her poems have appeared in the Boston Review, 6 x 6, and Horse Poems (Knopf). As a musician she tours internationally; her art-pop song cycle about Biblical women, Girls in Trouble, was released in October 2009. (Check out her interview at Largehearted Boy.)

Rabins’ poems “How You Came to Be” and “Writing About Writing About Writing” were published in the Winter 2009-10 edition of Ploughshares, guest edited by Tony Hoagland. (Hoagland closed his February 12 visit to Emerson College by reading “How You Came to Be.”) View the Winter 2009-10 issue.

An excerpt from “Writing About Writing About Writing”:

A mermaid crawls out of my mouth to meet you in this poem,
my teacher who calls me teacher and therefore is my teacher,
who shows me how to knot a net to make the moon rise
during night watch on calm seas while the other sailors sleep.

After the jump, Rabins shares how this poem came to be.

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First Video of Tony Hoagland’s Reading at Emerson

The first footage of Tony Hoagland’s talk on February 12 is here! Thanks to Emerson College for capturing and posting clips from the Q+A. Hoagland opened by sharing the three qualities he enjoys most in poems:

Mobility and intensity and probably voice. It’s that quickness, that changing of surface and changing of tone and shadow, and direction of the mind, that is the quality I think I value most in poems. That convinces the reader that the poem is an advocate, that somebody real made it.

Watch the video below for more of Hoagland’s answers, including his curiosity about what really constitutes poetry. And visit our YouTube page for links to more of our favorite Tony Hoagland videos.

Nic Pizzolatto, Winter 2009-10 Contributor

wNic02.JPGNic Pizzolatto‘s fiction has appeared in The Atlantic, The Oxford American, The Missouri Review, Best American Mystery Stories, and several other publications. He is the author of the story collection Between Here and the Yellow Sea (2006), and his first novel, Galveston, will be published by Scribner in May 2010.

Pizzolatto’s story, “Graves of Light,” was published in the Winter 2009-10 edition of Ploughshares, guest edited by Tony Hoagland. View the Winter 2009-10 issue.

Excerpt from “Graves of Light”:

His heart seized. It was like he’s known already what was going to happen. Like he knew it the moment he woke that morningthat all day, he realized, this thing he knew had skirted the periphery of his awareness. Like all day he’d been trying to deny what he woke up knowing.

Which is that his wife had vanished off the face of the earth.

After the jump, Pizzolatto examines how emptiness compelled him to write, as well as valuable advice from Tony Hoagland.

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