All posts tagged: 2017

Ask a Local: Caitriona Lally, Dublin, Ireland

With CAITRIONA LALLY

Front door in Dublin

Your name: Caitriona Lally

Current city or town: Dublin

How long have you lived here: Most of my life

Three words to describe the climate: Damp, mizzly, unpredictable

Best time of year to visit? Summer


1) The most striking physical features of this city/town are . . .

Dublin is a pretty compact city, perfect for walking around in. Probably the first thing overseas visitors notice is that its skyline is very low. The odd high-rise building stands out, for example Liberty Hall, which seems to be the Marmite of buildings; you either love it or hate it. Dublin still has many of its beautiful old Georgian houses in squares on both sides of the city.

2) The stereotype of the people who live here and what this stereotype misses . .

Fast-talking quick-witted oul lads sitting at the bar with pints of Guinness coming out with one-liners and long-winded tales. The stereotype is often true—the craic is mighty—but the same jokes tend to wear thin when you’re a regular.

3) Historical context in broad strokes and the moments in which you feel this history. . .

Last year saw the centenary of the 1916 Rising, in which a small band of rebels rose up against the occupying British forces. The Rising began the process which resulted in the formation of the Irish republic. It took place in the streets of Dublin’s city centre and it’s hard to forget, when bullet marks still pock the General Post Office (GPO), headquarters of the rebels.

4) Common jobs and industries and the effect on the town/city’s personality. . .

Dublin is very much a port city and even though many of the former dockworkers lost their jobs with the arrival of industrialisation, I think it still has a port feel. There are still a few early houses near the docks—pubs that open early for workers coming off nightshifts.

5) Local politics and debates frequently seem to center on . . .

Anything and everything, local and international. People you meet on the bus will start chatting about everything from Brexit to Trump (maybe the international debates have more of a parochial angle—how will Brexit affect the Irish economy, how will Trump affect undocumented Irish workers in the United States) to the proposed introduction of water charges, or unemployment, or politicians who are out of touch and don’t care about the ordinary person. Probably the same topics debated all over the world . . .

 

Caitriona Lally’s debut novel, Eggshells, published by Melville House, was an IndieNext pick and a Library Reads choice for March 2017.

Photo by Caitriona Lally

Isabel MeyersAsk a Local: Caitriona Lally, Dublin, Ireland
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Friday Reads: July 2017

Ah, July Friday Reads, where the temperatures are high and the stakes are even higher. This month, read alongside Issue 13 contributors and our managing editor as we face devastating epidemics, maternal death, and the eternal angst of feminine adolescence. Though each book finds a uniqueness in its approach to calamity, each work uses the minute details to capture the universal perils of love, loss, and loneliness.

Recommendations: Troubling Love by Elena Ferrante, The Girls by Emma Cline, and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

Book cover Troubling Love
Troubling Love
by Elena Ferrante, recommended by Megan Fernandes (poetry contributor)

Flavia MartinezFriday Reads: July 2017
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Letter to a Ghost

By SAMANTHA ALLEN 

Tehachapi, California

tehachapi
When I was twelve I was admitted to the hospital in Tehachapi. We shared a room, the only one open in the rural clinic. You handcuffed to the bed, me straining for air.

Julia PikeLetter to a Ghost
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Lesson for Cortney

By CORTNEY LAMAR CHARLESTON

after Lewis Holt

Those are traffic lights. They help stop people from
driving into each other. That’s a crescent moon and star
on top of that building. It means the people inside are part
of The Nation. That’s a gas station. That’s a McDonald’s.
That’s a Burger King. That’s a fried fish and chicken joint.

Sunna JuhnLesson for Cortney
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Welcome Our New Board Members!

We would like to extend a warm welcome to W. Drake McFeely and Suketu Mehta, the two newest additions to The Common’s Board of Directors.

Headshot of McFeely

W. Drake McFeely has made his entire career at W. W. Norton and Company, founded in 1923 and today the largest independent publisher wholly owned by its employees. Hired as a college traveler upon graduation from Amherst College in 1976, he was promoted to assistant sales manager in 1980 and within a year had also become an editor. Named a vice president in 1990, he served as associate director of the college department from 1993-94 and in 1994 was named Norton’s fifth president. He has been a member of Norton’s Board of Directors since 1990 and is today that board’s chairman.

Click here to read his full bio.

Headshot of Suketu Mehta
Suketu Mehta is the New York-based author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, which won the Kiriyama Prize and the Hutch Crossword Award, and was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, the Lettre Ulysses Prize, the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize, and the Guardian First Book Award. He has won the Whiting Writers’ Award, the O. Henry Prize, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for his fiction. Mehta’s work has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Granta, Harper’s Magazine, Time, and Newsweek, and has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air and All Things Considered.

Mehta is an Associate Professor of Journalism at New York University. He is currently working on a nonfiction book about immigrants in contemporary New York, for which he was awarded a 2007 Guggenheim fellowship. He has also written original screenplays for films, including New York, I Love You, and a novella What is Remembered (2016). Mehta was born in Calcutta and raised in Bombay and New York. He is a graduate of New York University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

 

Read the news brief from Publisher’s Weekly.

Flavia MartinezWelcome Our New Board Members!
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Incident at Dante’s

by JACOB MARGOLIES

Caffé Dante in Greenwich Village

There’s a cafe called Dante’s on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village that my father and I used to visit when I was a teenager.

It’s located in what is sometimes called the “south village,” which once was largely Italian. There were still traces of that neighborhood when I was a kid. Grandmothers on folding chairs outside tenements on Leroy Street, Our Lady of Pompei on Carmine Street, a Mafia social club on Sullivan Street, St. Anthony’s Church, the Vesuvio Bakery, tough kids hanging out in Thompson Park, Ottamanelli’s butcher shop.

Isabel MeyersIncident at Dante’s
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Gestured to and not yet quite: an interview with Muriel Leung

SARETTA MORGAN interviews MURIEL LEUNG

Muriel Leung Headshot

In this month’s interview, Saretta Morgan talks with poet, editor, and academic Muriel Leung about her poetry collection Bone Confetti; queer love; how loss can activate political consciousness; Hortense Spillers; and writing in a state of transition. Bone Confetti was released by Noemi Press in 2016.

Flavia MartinezGestured to and not yet quite: an interview with Muriel Leung
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June 2017 Poetry Feature

Over the past year Vievee Francis has received well-deserved recognition for her latest collection, Forest Primeval, which won both the 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the 2017 Kingsley Tufts Award. Her previous book, Horse in the Dark, won the Cave Canem Northwestern University Poetry Prize for a second collection, and her first, Blue-Tail Fly, preceded a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. Since the publication of Forest Primeval, Francis has been working on a fourth collection, and at The Common we’ve had the honor and the pleasure of presenting some of her new poems: “On Leaving the Mountains and Coming to the City I Thought I Left For Good” and “The Beauty of Boys Is” appear in Issue 13, Spring 2017, and “This Morning I Miss Such Devotion” is forthcoming in Issue 14, Fall 2017. Here is “’Moan Soft Like You Wanted Somebody Terrible,’” our Poetry Feature for the month of June.

Isabel MeyersJune 2017 Poetry Feature
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Rivendell

By JULIA PIKE 

HouseGarrett County, Maryland 

Kinder, es endet noch schlecht!” my grandmother cautions my cousins, who are wrestling near the fireplace. “Kids, this is going to end badly!” She laughs as she says it, though. Everyone is scattered around the living room, the nucleus of the big house. Cushioned benches run the length of two walls, and there’s a big fireplace elevated in a square stone fixture in the center of the room. A giant cylindrical black flue descends from the ceiling to catch the smoke and carry it outside.

Julia PikeRivendell
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Friday Reads: June 2017

We love any excuse to hear from our contributors! This month, our Issue 13 authors and poets tap into their literary communities as they recommend works by colleagues, friends, and Pulitzer Prize winners. United in their affection, the authors are nonetheless divided by their selections, as their choices shed light upon nowhereness, colonization, and Florida oranges.

Recommendations: Notes on the Inner City by George Szirtes, The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen,  The Quiet American by Graham Greene, and Chinatown Sonnets by Dorothy Chan.

 

Notes on the Inner City book titleNotes on the Inner City by George Szirtes, recommended by U. S. Dhuga (poetry contributor)

“Jeux d’esprit from the inner city, with best wishes, George — June 2017”. So George Szirtes signed one of the two books he gave me. He was in Toronto a week ago, as one of the judges for the Griffin Poetry Prize. We met at Zaza’s for coffee on Thursday 8 June. While I brought our coffees to the patio, I saw that he was signing for me two of his books: Reel (Bloodaxe, 2004), which won the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize, and Notes on the Inner City (Eyewear Publishing, 2015).

I read Notes on the streetcar home. “Politicians praise the cook but close the restaurant” (from “New Proverbs of Hell: Twenty Congregations”, p. 9). Every restaurant I love seems to go out of business, whilst every restaurant whose gimmickry I deplore seems to find televisional fame. I have never owned a television; and the word “television”, I have always felt, is an offensive kedgeree of Greek and Latin. I’m getting old.

I’ve a habit of reading books of poetry backwards. I mean that I begin with the last page and make my way to the first. I arrived at, and read, before “New Proverbs”, George’s sequence “A Conversation with Thunder”. George: “Arriving was the problem. Anticipation was natural. Being here was natural. She was nowhere in particular. Nothing could arrive” (p. 29).

By the time I had arrived back at my flat, George would have arrived at the airport for his flight to London—where he and I first met at my own recent book launch three months ago. A book he so generously praised. Young, I thought arrival was all. Old, arrival seems something of a “nowhere in particular”.

 

The Sympathizer and The Quiet American book coversThe Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, and The Quiet American by Graham Greene, recommended by Rachel Pastan (essay contributor)

Nguyen’s powerful 2016 novel is written in the form of a confession by a half-Vietnamese half-French Communist spy during and after what the Vietnamese call “the American War.” It puts the Vietnamese experience in the center of a narrative we in the West mostly know from movies and books in which Vietnamese people barely have speaking roles. My favorite part is when the narrator serves as a consultant on an Apocalypse Now-like movie, trying to give the film more authenticity: a fool’s errand, but an interesting one. After finishing The Sympathizer, rereading Graham Greene’s 1955 classic about how dangerous “innocent” Americans are is newly fascinating. Greene is certainly guilty of barely giving Vietnamese people speaking roles—except of course for the beautiful vacuous girl whose body is colonized first by the British narrator and then by the well-meaning American spy. But his searing indictment of American “innocence” is as relevant today as ever. And his prose sings.

Chinatown Sonnets book cover

Chinatown Sonnets by Dorothy Chan, recommended by Zack Strait (poetry contributor)

Since coming to Florida State University I’ve had the joy of getting to know Dorothy Chan, who is not only a phenomenal poet, but a wonderful friend as well.

Her first chapbook was recently selected by Douglas Kearney for the 2016-17 New Delta Review Chapbook Series, and I just finished devouring it this past weekend.

I say devoured because it is a delicious book. The poems boil over with passion and leave you with a kick in the throat. Here’s a bite from “At the Seafood Market”:

He’s King of Dead Fish, but Mom finds him perfect:

put him in soup, we’ll use his head for broth.

Chan has not only a gift of imagination, but an eye for surprising, delightful imagery. Here’s another taste, from the gorgeous “Grandfather’s Oranges”:

but this is beauty, the oranges all neat,

Florida’s Best still stuck on them.

Ted Kooser, in The Poetry Home Repair Manual, writes “. . . one of the definitions of poetry might be that a poem freshens the world,” and that is what each of these poem accomplishes.

 

Isabel MeyersFriday Reads: June 2017
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