April 2nd, 2014 | 8:00am

            I arrived by evening train from Kyiv, the trees along the tracks slicing through orange light outside my window, an erratic metronome whose meter would set the pace for my three years as a Peace Corps ESL teacher in the village town of Radyvyliv. There would be long camp days with my students stretching into what would feel like weeks, winter flu quarantine days when I would stay indoors to write bad prose until I fell into a deep sleep as the early morning light broke, hours and hours of reading Gogol by candlelight and trying to conjure up some ghost of lunatic inspiration—but in those first few days of struggling to find a grip on the culture, in those first few hours with my host family, everything arrived and departed at a rapid pace.

April 1st, 2014 | 8:00am


Rich Benjamin is a journalist-adventurer and the author of Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey To The Heart Of White America. He is a senior fellow at the think tank Demos in New York City, and a frequent commentator on NPR, Fox News, The New York Times and many other media outlets. Melody Nixon caught up with Rich Benjamin this spring, at his office overlooking the Flatiron building in Manhattan.

reviewed by James Dickson
March 31st, 2014 | 8:00am


I’ll be honest: when The Common asked me to review Ros Barber’s new book, The Marlowe Papers, I was leery. Novels-in-verse aren’t really my thing. Reading the back cover blurbs, I became even more skeptical: a novel in iambic pentameter (rhymed and blank verse) from the point of view of the English poet, playwright, Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), whom conspiracy theorists claim was the real author of Shakespeare’s plays? The book claims Marlowe’s death, in a bar-fight before the Church of England could charge him with heresy, was staged to let him escape England. And while in hiding, he ghost-wrote all of Shakespeare’s plays.

Oysters in the Raritan Bay, courtesy of SCAPE Landscape Architecture
March 28th, 2014 | 8:00am

Oysters in the Raritan Bay, courtesy of SCAPE Landscape Architecture

Oysters in the Raritan Bay, courtesy of SCAPE Landscape Architecture

Next week Thursday, April 3, the amazing Rebuild by Design competition concludes in New York City. The finale event on Vesey Street in Manhattan is open to the public, and I think it well worth attending, even if you’re only just now learning about the competition. I’ve wanted to write about this competition since its launch last summer, and now as it comes to a close I can speculate a little about its significance.

March 27th, 2014 | 8:00am

The day after Thanksgiving, my parents and I drive from Laramie to Winter Park in a rental Buick. We go to see what we hear is worth seeing in Colorado, and we confuse it for all that there is.