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Thursday, January 8, 2015 - 11:40am

Diane Cook’s debut short-story collection Man V. Nature was recently published by HarperCollins. The New York Times called it a book of “great beauty and strangeness.” Cook is a former producer on NPR’s “This American Life” and a graduate of the Graduate Writing Program at Columbia University. She currently lives in Oakland, California where she is at work on a novel. S. Tremaine Nelson talked with Cook about writing “unnerving stories, her least favorite author, and the many perks of novel writing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - 6:00am

Sarah Smarsh has reported on social justice, the environment, culture, and class for Harper’s, The Huffington Post, Guernica, The Pitch, Aeon, and others. She holds an MFA in nonfiction from Columbia University, as well as degrees in journalism and English from the University of Kansas, and has taught at Washburn University, Columbia, and elsewhere. A fellow of the Center for Kansas Studies, earlier in her career she wrote about her home state for everything from airline magazines to pop-history paperback series. Her essay “Death of the Farm Family” appears in Issue 08 of The Common. Marni Berger and Smarsh discussed the privilege of rootedness in America and what it means to be “often from” a place.

Friday, November 7, 2014 - 9:28am

Benjamin Anastas is the author of Too Good to be True, a memoir described by The New York Times as smart and honest and searching,” and so plaintive and raw it will leave most writers… with heart palpitations.” He has written two novels, An Underachievers Diary, and The Faithful Narrative of a Pastors Disappearance, as well as multiple reviews and essays, one of which, Boys with a Synth,” is published in Issue 06 of The Common. Melody Nixon talked with Anastas about his skepticism for social media, the role of the writer in society, and memoir as fictionwhiny and embarrassing stepchild.” 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 5:00am

Judith Frank is the author of the novel, Crybaby Butch, and a professor of English at Amherst College. She received a B.A. from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a Ph.D. in English literature and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Cornell. She has been the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, and support from both Yaddo and MacDowell. Marni and Judith spoke online about Judy’s new novel, All I Love and Know, and what it means to write about violence in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Valerie Duff in Mexico City, 1979

Monday, September 1, 2014 - 12:57pm

Valerie Duff is the author of the poetry collection To the New World. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Prague Revue, Ploughshares, Blackbox Manifold, Poetry Northeast, AGNI, Gulf Coast, and Issue 07 of The Common. She is poetry editor of Salamander Magazine. Marni Berger and Valerie Duff spoke long distance this summer about Mexico City, Virginia, Boston, and writing poetry as if you’re sorting through a dream world.

Murray Farish headshot

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 - 8:51am

Murray Farish headshot

Murray Farish’s short stories have appeared in The Missouri Review, Epoch, Roanoke Review, and Black Warrior Review, among other publications. He lives with his wife and two sons in St. Louis, Missouri, where he teaches writing and literature at Webster University. Inappropriate Behavior is his debut short story collection. Murray answered the following questions via email.

Gainesville, FL

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 - 8:59am


Justin Taylor is the author of the short story collection Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever (2010) and the novel The Gospel of Anarchy (2011). His latest collection Flings is forthcoming from HarperCollins in August. Melody Nixon caught up with him in Brooklyn, New York, to discuss the progression of his work, fiction like a warm bath, and riding reindeer into rivers.

Multiple Authors

Thursday, July 3, 2014 - 10:07am


David Breslin is a Curator and Associate Director of the Research and Academic Program at the Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts, and a writer of nonfiction on art, feminism and language-based practices. His essay, “Plugs: Five Thoughts on Cady Noland’s Stocks,” was published in Issue No. 07 of The Common. Marni Berger spoke with Breslin at a coffee shop off Washington Square Park in New York City, where they discussed the American art world, how to handle painful subjects, and finding the ideal writing space.


Ron Welburn

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - 7:45am


Ron Welburn is a Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he teaches American Literature, Native American Literature, and American Studies. His ancestors include Gingaskin and Assateague from the Delmarva Peninsula, Cherokee, Lenape, and African American. Professor Welburn received a B.A. in both Psychology and English from Lincoln University, an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. in American Studies from New York University.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 2:06pm


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.

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