All posts tagged: interview

Ask a Local: Caitriona Lally, Dublin, Ireland


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

Gestured to and not yet quite: an interview with 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

Making Space for the Common Cyborg: an Interview with Jillian Weise


Jillian Weise is the author of the novel The Colony (2010) and the poetry collections The Amputee’s Guide to Sex (2007) and The Book of Goodbyes (2013), the latter of which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. Her writing appears in The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Granta, The New Republic, Tin House, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing at Clemson University in South Carolina.

Isabel MeyersMaking Space for the Common Cyborg: an Interview with Jillian Weise

Horizontal Feminists: An Interview with Alexander Chee


 Alexander Chee


Alexander Chee’s new novel The Queen of the Night, set almost entirely in France under the Second Empire (1866–1872), is the first-person narrative of a silver-voiced American orphan who maneuvers her way to acclaim as an opera singer, via the circus, can-can dancing, prostitution, and service as the Empress’s maid. Three desires drive Lilliet: to free herself from the tenor who literally owns her (having bought her from a whore house), to become a singer, and to reunite with the man she loves. Chee’s novel sumptuously recreates the intertwined worlds of les grandes horizontales or courtesans, the opera, and the court of Emperor Louis-Napoléon and Empress Eugénie with its spies and secret police.

This winter in Manhattan, New York, The Common’s Book Reviews Editor Julia Lichtblau talked at length with Alexander Chee about his forthcoming novel.

Olivia ZhengHorizontal Feminists: An Interview with Alexander Chee

The Risk of Being Human: an Interview With Rachel Eliza Griffiths


Rachel Eliza Griffiths is a poet and visual artist. Her most recent collection of poetry, Lighting the Shadow (Four Way Books), was published in April. Griffiths teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and the Institute of American Indian Arts, and lives in Brooklyn, NY. Saretta Morgan corresponded with Griffiths via email over the course of four weeks this summer, during which time they each traversed several locales—Upstate New York, Mexico, Colorado, Vermont and Washington, D.C.—as they discussed form, representation, and the risks of opening oneself up artistically.

Saretta Morgan (SM): Your fourth book of poems came out this year, and you’re very close to completing your first book of photographs and your first novel. You also work in photography and video. Could you share a little bit about your relationship to these modalities? What complications and limitations do you find in each?

Isabel MeyersThe Risk of Being Human: an Interview With Rachel Eliza Griffiths

David Lehman on Literary New York, the KGB Bar, and His New and Selected Poems


David Lehman headshot

David Lehman, born and raised in New York City, is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection New and Selected Poems, published by Scribner. He is Series Editor of The Best American Poetry anthology and co-founder of the KGB bar poetry reading series. His poems “Mother Died Today,” “Remember the Typewriter,” and “The Bronze Décor”appeared in Issue No. 05 of The Common.

Isabel MeyersDavid Lehman on Literary New York, the KGB Bar, and His New and Selected Poems

“The World Upside Down”: Lindsay Stern interviews Teresa Villegas


"El Mundo Al Reves" cards

The Common contributor Teresa Villegas and intern Lindsay Stern discuss Villegas’ recent projects, her choice of medium, and the influence of place and the environment on her work. Released in October, Issue 02 features a selection from “El mundo al revés/The World Upside Down,” a suite of 10 prints by Villegas alongside bilingual folktales by Ilan Stavans.

Isabel Meyers“The World Upside Down”: Lindsay Stern interviews Teresa Villegas

“The Last Nail in the Coffin”: Ilan Stavans Interviews John Sayles

John Sayles

“Not just a place, but a place in its time, has a character. That character affects who people are. In a movie it certainly affects the way that you shoot.

Today we are thrilled to feature an original, exclusive interview between The Common contributor Ilan Stavans and filmmaker and writer John Sayles. Stavans and Sayles discuss the differences between fiction writing and filmmaking, the challenges and comfort of writing historical fiction, and the importance of place in both book and movies. Sayles recently published A Moment in the Sun (McSweeney’s, 2011) and directed the newly released Amigo (Variance Films, 2011).

Julia Pike“The Last Nail in the Coffin”: Ilan Stavans Interviews John Sayles

Ingres at the Morgan


IngresPortrait of Charles-Désiré Norry (1796-1818), 1817
Signed, inscribed, and dated at lower left, Ingres à Mr. Norry / Pere. / rome / 1817
Purchased as the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Claus von Bülow, 1977
Photography by Graham Haber, 2011

From September 9 to November 27, 2011, The Morgan Library & Museum presents seventeen exquisite drawings and some letters by French master Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. In this interview, editor Jennifer Acker talks with curator Esther Bell about these drawings and the artist’s refined sense of place.  

Julia PikeIngres at the Morgan

Voices from Japan


Aside from Haruki Murakami, much of Japanese writing remains unknown in the U.S., simply because it is not translated into English. Now, thanks to collaboration between the Brooklyn-based literary magazine, A Public Space, and the Tokyo-based literary magazines, Monkey Business, a special English-language edition of Monkey Business is available in the US. This special edition, called “New Voices from Japan”, will showcase the best of the magazine’s first three years of publication and will include stories, poetry, and non-fiction, including an interview with Murakami.

As Stuart Dybek writes in a letter introducing the issue: “The books and anthologies that line my shelves attest to the fact that we live in a golden age of translation.  Even so, it’s rare to have a literary magazine like Monkey Business appear in English. It arrives with the sense of discovery and immediacy that one reads literary magazines for.”

Emily EverettVoices from Japan