Emerson marked the 40th anniversary of Ploughshares literary magazine this week with a celebration hosted by actor/writer Denis Leary ’79 that featured readings of the some of the magazine’s greatest works. At the November 14 event at Emerson’s Paramount Mainstage, nationally renowned authors, actors, sports legends, and television personalities read their favorite selections from the Ploughshares vault to an audience of more than 250 supporters.
The notable readers included: Alice Hoffman (author of Practical Magic and Oprah Book Club Selection Here on Earth); Dennis Lehane (author of Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, and Shutter Island); Cam Neely (Hockey Hall of Famer and current president of the Boston Bruins); Andre Dubus III (author of National Book Award finalist House of Sand and Fog and Townie, a Salon.com “Mandatory Read”); Sue Miller (bestselling author of The Good Mother, Inventing the Abbotts, and Oprah Book Club selection While I Was Gone); Wally Lamb (author of four New York Times bestselling novels: Wishin’ and Hopin’, The Hour I First Believed, I Know This Much Is True, and She’s Come Undone); and Ming Tsai (James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef, Emmy Award-winning host of the Food Network’s East Meets West, and restaurateur). In addition, Emerson College President Lee Pelton also read his selection from the “best of” Ploughshares—a passage from a story written by his college professor Richard Yates.
The 40th anniversary celebration culminated in the inaugural presentation of Ploughshares’ Lifetime Achievement Award and Literary Distinction Award. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Alice Hoffman by author and Emerson Professor Pamela Painter. The Literary Distinction Award was given posthumously to Robert Parker, the dean of American crime fiction—best remembered for his gritty Spenser series—who revitalized and reinvented the genre. Parker’s friend Lehane read some of Parker’s work and accepted the Literary Distinction Award on his behalf.
Ploughshares was founded in 1971 by Writing, Literature and Publishing Professor DeWitt Henry and Peter O’Malley in the Plough and Stars, an Irish pub in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has been based at Emerson since 1989. It has become a preeminent source for significant contemporary American prose and poetry.
Ploughshares consistently serves as the launching pad for the nation’s most respected and enduring voices. Writers such as Thomas Lux, Edward P. Jones, Mona Simpson, Tim O’Brien, Robert Pinsky, and Jayne Anne Phillips had their first or early work published in Ploughshares. Guest editors of the magazine have been the recipients of Nobel and Pulitzer prizes, National Book Awards, MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, and numerous other honors.