Special Announcement: Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award
In summer 2021, Plough will announce the winners of its first annual Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award. The winning poet will receive a two thousand dollar award and the winning poem will be published in Plough. In addition, two finalists will receive two hundred and fifty dollars as well as publication in Plough.
This award honors the achievements of the great Dominican-American poet, translator, and public school teacher Rhina Polonia Espaillat. The Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award will be awarded for an original poem of not more than fifty lines that reflects her lyricism, empathy, and ability to find grace in everyday events of life.
In contrast to most other poetry competitions, Plough will not contract out judging of this award to a prominent poet. Instead, Plough’s new poetry editor A. M. Juster will select approximately twenty poems for further consideration, and then the editors will reach a consensus on the winner and the two finalists.
Submissions will open in early 2021, and the deadline for submissions is March 30, 2021. All poems must be submitted electronically via the contest webpage. All decisions of the editors will be final. Results will be announced in early summer at Plough.com, and by email to all contestants. For details, visit plough.com/poetryaward.
Askıda Ekmek: Is There Bread on the Hook?
There is a bakery near our apartment in Maltepe, Istanbul, that makes more than fifteen hundred breads, biscuits, pastries, and cakes every day. You can smell the fresh bread calling you from hundreds of feet away.
One recent morning at the bakery I saw a sign, “Askıda Ekmek 37,” which means there are now thirty-seven loaves of “bread on the hook” – free for anybody in need. People come and ask, “Askıda ekmek var mi?” “Is there bread on the hook?” and if they can’t pay, they can take a loaf of bread for free. The baker told me that almost one hundred loaves are given every day. At times a customer pays for two loaves but only takes one, and the other is hung on the hook.
The tradition of “Askıda Ekmek” can be traced to the Ottoman Empire, which had the principle, “Let the people live and so the state will live.” With Islam as the dominant religion, people recognize Muhammad’s instruction: “He who sleeps contentedly while his neighbors sleep hungry did not believe in my message.” Still today hospitality is very important in Turkish culture, especially in the villages. People believe that you are a guest of God and they will invite you in to share their food and home.
The Breaking Ground Project
“It’s April 2020,” we Plough editors thought to ourselves a few months ago. “Why not spice up our apocalypse by partnering with a bunch of Canadians and Reformed folks in starting a new online magazine?” This may seem like an odd choice, but we’re very pleased with how it’s worked out.
Breaking Ground is a new media project of the Canadian think tank Cardus, run in partnership with Cardus’s magazine Comment, The Davenant Institute, and other Christian organizations. Spearheaded by Comment editor-in-chief Anne Snyder, the project has as its senior editor Plough’s Susannah Black; many others in the Plough orbit are also involved.
This year has thrown challenge after challenge in our faces. We need, on an emergency basis, to be wise. Breaking Ground is dedicated to marshaling the wisdom of the Christian traditions – from Anabaptist, to Reformed, to Catholic – to face the current crisis head-on.
With podcasts, videos, and a series of live events, as well as essays from those whose voices – familiar and unfamiliar – need to be heard, Breaking Ground is doing just what we hoped it would: it’s building community, building connections, and providing an outlet for some of the most interesting and useful writing that 2020 has produced, guided by two thousand years of Christian social thought. We’re so glad to be fellow travelers on their voyage.
Zoom Bible Study with Dr. John M. Perkins
Dr. John M. Perkins is known for many things: his work in racial reconciliation; Christian community development; his books on justice, faith, and race. He has served as an adviser to presidents and a neighbor to gang leaders. He and his wife, Vera Mae, have just celebrated their seventieth wedding anniversary (he is ninety and she is eighty-seven). But his greatest love and passion is teaching the Bible.
I met John in 1984 when I went to Pasadena to visit a childhood friend who was volunteering with him for the summer. John convinced me to stay, and for three years we worked together building up his ministry to the children of the drug dealers and prostitutes in the neighborhood. But on Tuesday mornings at 5:30 a.m. we had Bible study – mostly the First Letter of John, but also John’s Gospel.
When Covid-19 forced everyone into an unnatural isolation, I spoke with John about participating in his Bible study using Zoom. Over the past months, these gatherings have grown and have become a focal point for what is affecting Christians around the country. John has invited many different speakers and teachers to join him.
John’s Bible studies are challenging; the gospel message is so simple, yet so demanding. As he reminds us over and over, God’s longing is that we might know him, be known by him, and make him known to all people. That is the good news. Learn more or join the Bible studies here.