Ten Quick Questions with… Elizabeth Strout

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Elizabeth Strout’s had quite a year. Her third work of fiction,¬†Olive Kitteridge, still sits on the paperback bestseller list. Last April, she earned the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This Thursday, she headlines the Ploughshares Reading Series, where she will read one of Olive’s stories (“I often make that

A Writer’s Envy, Part I: Lost in the Schoolhouse

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Fresh from the AWP conference in Denver, we are back to the blog. This week, we welcome our new Get Behind the Plough bloggers, chosen from the pages of the Spring 2010 Ploughshares. Our Winter 2009-10 contributors were all poets, so we’re glad to add fiction voices to the

The Way In

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Guest post by James Arthur Between the ages of 18 and 24, I did consider myself to be a writer, though I wouldn’t have known whether to call myself a poet, novelist, screenwriter, literary critic, or playwright, and I wrote almost nothing. My occasional literary effort fizzled out after

On Walking

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Guest post by James Arthur Somehow I never got around to taking my driver’s test. I make various excuses for not having a license (I grew up in a city with a subway, I’m doing my part for the environment, I have bad eyesight, cars are expensive, gas is

Wordsworth at Passover

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  Guest post by Alicia Jo Rabins One of the fantastic things about the Torah as a literary work is how it combines impossibly broad swaths of narrative (the world is created, a flood destroys it, etc.) with precise details (Rachel, having stolen her father’s idols and hidden them

Shall I Compare Thee to a Taco Bell?: Pop in Poetry

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Guest post by Peter B. Hyland In 1877, Joseph Ray, M.D.–“late professor in Woodward College”–published Ray’s New Practical Arithmetic. I own a copy for some reason, part of a small collection of nineteenth-century books that my father-in-law gave me, containing everything from an abridged version of Livingstone and Stanley

Travel, Tor House, and Negative Capability

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Guest post by James Arthur During the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to have some opportunities to travel, and not surprisingly, the places I’ve visited have begun showing up in my poems. In fact, these days when I sit down to write, I usually begin by flipping

Spiritual Twins, Poetry Chavrutas

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  Guest post by Alicia Jo Rabins There’s nothing like those years when you don’t yet have what you are working for. There’s a lot of freedom because there’s so much possibility. You need friends who are working for something, too…Everything starts with an all-night conversation. Find a spiritual

Broken Plank & Immortal Veil

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Guest post by Peter B. Hyland In book five of The Odyssey, the sea goddess Ino comes to the aid of a storm-tossed Odysseus. She emerges from the waves and loans him her veil, a talisman that ensures he will arrive in one piece on the island of Scheria,

Extreme Isolation

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Guest post by James Arthur Several years ago, I had a brief, obsessive relationship with Winged Migration, a 98-minute documentary about birds, and I went to see it three times in theaters around Seattle. To my outrage, every time I saw the movie, there were people in the audience