The Things Left Unsaid in No Such Place
Ploughshares
by Yardenne Greenspan
21h ago
Lately I’ve been wondering if I’ve been getting in the way of my own success. Perhaps the very qualities that make me easy to get along with—flexible, compassionate, understanding—are what make it harder for me to get my work out there. In my memoir and my essays, I tend toward a certain equanimity—not a neutrality, per se, but an ambivalence, a desire to understand the other side, even if they are categorically wrong. I also like to leave certain things unsaid. Rather than interpret, I prefer to put the story out there and let readers draw conclusions rather than tell them exactly what I mea ..read more
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Trans Panic and the Trans Literary Imagination
Ploughshares
by Angela Flores
2d ago
I had a short story titled “Rush Hour” that I workshopped at Tin House but had been ultimately stuck on since writing its first draft in 2019. The story is about a trans woman named Hila who wakes up one morning to find her roommate moving out because he learned Hila was trans a few weeks prior, leaving her to come up with the rent on her own. As Hila attempts to come up with the money, she finds herself revisiting the life she once shared with her ex-partner. The primary piece of feedback I received during workshop was that the story was written from a distant vantage point, not from directl ..read more
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The Colonizer and The Ghost
Ploughshares
by Lesley Jenike
3d ago
An article in CNN’s online travel section published last month describes an on-going phenomenon in Southern Italy: artifact theft and resulting ancient curses. “I am now 36 and had breast cancer twice,” says an American tourist to the staff of Pompeii’s Archeological Park. “We’re good people and I don’t want to pass this curse on to my family or children.” The tourist had stolen some artifacts from Pompeii when she visited the site in 2005, then, years later, returned them, along with her note of regret. “I wanted to have a piece of history that couldn’t be bought,” the woman admitted. She’d ..read more
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Time, Change, and Community
Ploughshares
by Ariel Katz
4d ago
Time has been strange lately. The spatial bounds of my world are narrow—grocery store, neighborhood walk, cluttered desk—but time keeps passing, albeit with new distortions. Days feel at once brief and interminable; a week ends without my realizing. On a Friday that might as well have been a Monday, I revisited some poems by Czeslaw Milosz. His work explores the disorientation of time, the pain of dislocation, and the porous border between community and solitude. He writes with awe and bemusement about both small moments and large expanses of time. He evokes eternity in everyday encounters be ..read more
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The Longitudinal View of Rebecca Solnit
Ploughshares
by Julia Shiota
1w ago
Rebecca Solnit has written on political issues for over three decades, covering the shift in societal views on gender and race, as well as how these aspects of life inform the way humans move in the world. Her criticism is cutting, mincing no words when unpacking the insidious ideologies behind things as seemingly inconsequential as a Tweet or an offhand remark made by a politician. In a time when a kind of fatigue has set in following an unprecedented stream of political scandal and corruption, Solnit puts what is happening in the political and societal arena into a longitudinal context. Her ..read more
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Remembering Monica Berlin
Ploughshares
by Miyako Pleines
1w ago
Dear Monica, Something I think about often is how you once said that sometimes when you write a letter, the person you are writing to may never write back. That’s just part of the gamble of setting out to address another. This was how you used to explain to us that even though you required that we write weekly letters to you, you would not be able to return the favor. I suspect this was your way of gently letting us know that while you were merely one person, we, your students, were a body of many, and it would be near impossible for you to keep up a letter writing practice as rigorous as the ..read more
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The Idiot and the Betrayal of Language
Ploughshares
by Neil Serven
1w ago
When Selin Karadağ, the heroine of Elif Batuman’s 2017 novel, The Idiot, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard, she waits in a lot of lines, including at the bank, where she’s given a free dictionary for opening a new account. It’s a cheapo dictionary, useless for a college student; Selin complains to her roommate, Hannah, that it doesn’t contain entries for ratatouille or Tasmanian devil. “Isn’t the Tasmanian devil a cartoon character?” Hannah asks dismissively. This line makes a small but perceptive observation that underlies the novel: that what to one person is a word with a necessary ..read more
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Becoming an Art Monster
Ploughshares
by Rachael Nevins
1w ago
I never wanted to be an art monster, not in the way that the narrator of Dept. of Speculation (2014), by Jenny Offill, describes it. “My plan was to never get married,” she says. “I was going to be an art monster instead. Women almost never become art monsters because art monsters only concern themselves with art, never mundane things. Nabokov didn’t even fold his own umbrella. Vera licked his stamps for him.” My plan, in contrast, was always to get married, have children, and make art—all of which I have done. In fact, I had the audacity to marry an artist. He takes care of our umbrellas, re ..read more
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The Riddles of the Green Man and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Ploughshares
by Jessica Hines
2w ago
From a stone carving set high into the ceiling, a face looks down. At its base, it is undeniably human, with blue, steady eyes and a mouth pursed as if about to speak. An eruption of golden leaves that sprout from brow and cheeks, however, disrupt that humanity in a wild corona. So dense are the leaves that they obscure almost every individuating feature, making it difficult to judge the face’s age, gender expression, or emotions. Carved as it is into the Cloister roof vaults of England’s Norwich Cathedral, anyone passing underneath might easily miss that there is a face in the greenery ..read more
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Toad and a Woman’s Desire
Ploughshares
by Bekah Waalkes
2w ago
What I want to read about these days is women who want things. I am not the first person to want this genre—it has a long and storied history. I can think of many books that foreground female desire, that follow ruthless and brilliant women, that go beyond “wife” or “mother” as the horizon of women’s ambition. I love these books—I read them regularly. But what I want, really, is a novel of a woman’s appetite. Not her goals or fantasies or desires, but the sheer hunger of wanting something. And Toad, a posthumously released novel from the archives of iconic author Katherine Dunn, is the most a ..read more
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