Amherst, MA, September 17, 2020 — The Common, the award-winning literary journal based at Amherst College, is a recipient of a grant from The Literary Arts Emergency Fund, which provides aid to nonprofit literary arts organizations, magazines, and presses that have experienced severe financial losses due to COVID-19. The fund, launched and administered by the Academy of American Poets, the Community of Literary Magazine & Presses (CLMP), and the National Book Foundation, will be distributing more than $3.5 million to literary organizations and publications across the country.
Leaders of the three national literary organizations—Jennifer Benka, Mary Gannon, and Lisa Lucas—united to raise funds and establish the Literary Arts Emergency Fund in response to the lack of institutional support for the nonprofit organizations and publishers that sustain literary culture in the U.S. by presenting poets and writers at events and by publishing and distributing thousands of poems, stories, and essays in books, magazines, and through open online archives.
The Common Receives $10,000 Grant from The Literary Arts Emergency Fund
Here in Ann Arbor, unable to travel, I am missing the Greek balcony, a private and public space: it’s neither in nor out but something in between. Poet Alicia E. Stallings, who lives in Athens, notes on Twitter: “Very Athenian neighbor quarrel tonight: we fired up the grill in the yard to pretend like it was a Friday, but it turns out lady upstairs had just done her laundry. Words were had.” (It was indeed Friday, but what is Friday anymore, anyway?) When I write her about this, laughing, she adds that the woman also menacingly suggests she might water her plants while Alicia’s husband works on his laptop below.
In the early weeks of quarantine, from balconies in Athens, friends filmed videos of their neighbors clapping for health care workers. On Easter, when Athens is often eerily quiet, as many Athenians return to their home villages, say, or travel to an island, the quarantined city’s balconies shone bright with candles.
In this month’s Friday Reads, we’re hearing from our volunteer readers, who consider submissions for print and online publication. Their book recommendations range from poetry collections to recent novel debuts and Flannery O’Connor short stories revisited through the lens of anti-racism. Read on for new quarantine entertainment and keep an eye out for a second round of recommendations from our volunteer readers, out later this fall.
Recommendations: Thin Girls by Diana Clarke; Shiner by Maggie Nelson; Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor; Cherry by Nico Walker, Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano.
Blessing Ofia-Inyinya Nwodo studied Adult Education/ English language at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where she earned the “Best Female Writer” award. Her short story “Vaginismus” was featured in Erotic Africa: The Sex Anthology by Brittle Paper and she was awarded the Highly Rated prize in the Nigerian Travel Story competition organized by Travel Next Door in 2016.
This is the third installment of an online series highlighting work by Black authors published in The Common. To read The Common’s statement in support of the nationwide protests against anti-Black racism, white supremacy, and police brutality, click here.
Welcome back to Friday Reads! After a brief hiatus, we are returning with books that have educated and entertained our former TC interns during quarantine. To find out what our former editorial assistants have been doing to pass the long days inside, read on.
Recommendations: The Tree and the Vine by Dola de Jong; Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid; Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier
This is the second installment of an online series highlighting work by Black authors published in The Common. To read The Common’s statement in support of the nationwide protests against anti-Black racism, white supremacy, and police brutality, click here.
This is the first installment of an online series highlighting work by Black authors published in The Common. To read The Common’s statement in support of the nationwide protests against anti-Black racism, white supremacy, and police brutality, click here.
The four of them lay on the rug in a circle. They could not be still. They could not shut the hell up. They played blackjack, betting for fistfuls of jerky their dad kept stashed on a kitchen shelf. Only rarely did the girl beat the boys, though she was next to oldest. There were three of them to her one, an equation of quantity and logic, she’d always understood, but also of weight and matter. Ace and face, she threw down her cards, three lucky wins in a row. She whooped and lifted up from the floor, prepared to wrestle an accord, star-flung limbs and static-flared hair bound in constellation. Instead, this late afternoon, the oldest brother detonated the cards in a rush of edges. Red and black diamonds, spades, hearts, and clubs.
Every Friday morning, all the residents in the simmering neighborhood of Wilat in this drab African city waited for the General to appear, to officially open the narrow street that passed between their houses. They had paid for the street’s construction themselves. And they could have used the road without any fuss, but neighborhood authorities had informed them, six months earlier, that His Eminence would be arriving to open the street himself. These authorities, and several other authorities, had ordered the residents to line up in the early morning on the first Friday of the month, but the General did not arrive, and so they repeated this scene on Fridays for months, in hopes of greeting him. Then an order was issued that forbade residents from driving their cars on the new street before it was officially opened. The residents kept lining up as usual for this tiresome wait, whispering and murmuring, but the opening did not happen. Many cursed the day on which the idea arose to build this now-postponed street, and after a long wait, they eventually dispersed in time for prayers, without having been cheered by the sight of His Eminence cutting the ribbon. That act was expected to last only seconds, at which point the neglected street would become well-known, and the media would add the street to a list of the government’s accomplishments. Really, any local official could do the job.