Anacaona Rocio Milagro is a poet born, raised and living in New York City, uptown Manhattan’s Washington Heights. Writing poetry since the age of four, she earned an MFA in Poetry at NYU’s Low Residency program in Paris, an MPH at Columbia University, and a BA with a double-major in Social Anthropology and Journalism/Creative Writing, and a minor in Art from Baruch College/CUNY BA Program. Her“Nine Eleven Poem”is now part of the Smithsonian Museum’s 9/11 archives. Her poetry has been published in The BreakBeat Poets Latinext Anthology, Narrative Magazine, LitHub, Oh Dear Magazine, and Raising Mothers to name a few. Her poem“Stillmatic”was released as a spokenword/Hip-Hop/Jazz single on all streaming platforms. Her father is from the Dominican Republic and her mother is from St. Thomas, The U.S. Virgin Islands. She is the single mother of two—Nirvana Sky and Zion.
November 2022 Poetry Feature: Anacaona Rocio Milagro
Sindya Bhanoo speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her story “Tsunami Bride,” which appears in The Common’s new fall issue. Sindya talks about her experience reporting from India after the 2004 tsunami, and how that experience eventually became a story about a journalist in the same position, told from a local’s perspective. She also discusses how the training and techniques she developed as a journalist have shaped her drafting and revision process for fiction, how food often makes its way into her stories, and how her 2022 story collection Seeking Fortune Elsewhere came together.
Every second, somewhere in the universe, a star explodes. All life within a trillion miles is condemned to apocalypse, all love forgotten. A supernova spits up a photon, a dribble of light, which rolls onward to another star and another before its path is intercepted by a giant, flailing planet Earth.
On which an ambulance, spraying its own red and blue photons into windows and lower eyelids, rockets down Michigan Avenue. Inside, a twenty-two-year-old woman sits upright on a stretcher, looking all around, proving her physical haleness by screaming at the top of her lungs, because until fifteen minutes ago, she didn’t know that she was pregnant, though she’d felt ill for some time, and then her water broke in a Starbucks bathroom.
At a moment of relative simultaneity, our photon is pulsing through clean air, through airplane windows and white linen kites. It skims a lake and pinballs in a web of sleek skyscrapers.
The woman, admittedly, would not have boasted a fully harmonious relationship with her body before all this; now, minutes after giving birth, things have devolved into open hostility. She’s clawing at her legs. She’s stubbing her toes on the steel door frame. Life is an improbability. It’s an unlikely confluence of pharmacological and genetic circumstances to be eight months pregnant and not realize. The ambulance swerves. She’ll be sick. It doesn’t help that she’s hungover. That her few bouts of morning sickness in the months past could be so easily blamed on margaritas and boxed wine.
Meera Nair speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “The Desire Tree,” which appears in The Common’s new fall issue. Meera talks about the long process of writing this piece, which explores loss and longing through a visit to a banyan tree in Kerala, India that is said to grant prayers. She also discusses writing from memories, finding the right length for a piece, and teaching revision strategies to her creative writing students.
I walk slowly, each step sinking a little into the ground. With every footfall, a puff of ash curls upward, dusting the top of my boot and disappearing into the soft stillness of the day. It is a clear day with no clouds, but the air around me has a gentle haze, a film that sometimes resolves into particles, pinpoints of ash in a slanting ray of sunlight. It has been two months since the fire, but the rising ash and the smell of smoke are strong, stinging the back of my throat and settling into a familiar ache in my temples.
As the parakeet-green municipal bus pulled into Cuddalore, Sai held his sign up as high as he could, his forehead burning from the morning sun. He did not want the reporter to miss him.
The sign was flimsy, made of two pieces of printer paper taped together, but it was sufficient.
He’d written SARA, THE NEW YORK TIMES in thick capital letters with a black marker. He knew of only a handful of women doing serious journalism, mostly Barkha Dutt copycats. His favorite female journalist was actually a character from the movie Gandhi. He had rented it when he was in college in Chennai and watched it alone. He was instantly smitten with the actress who played the Time magazine photographer from America, charmed by the way her short, wavy hair bounced as she squatted to the ground to take pictures of the Mahatma spinning cotton on his chakkaram.
You tried so hard to be good, turning the shower on when no one was home, brushing your teeth so inaudibly that even standing in the hall with an ear pressed to wood, no one could hear you. The sun could not freckle through you, but each morning you pressed your palms against the wallpaper as if you might one day slip right through into daylight. Once, you went so long without laughing you forgot how to start altogether. You watched one scary movie per year to insist you knew how to be brave, because you knew you weren’t transparent enough to pass through when those hands came spoiling at night.
Ellen Doré Watson speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her poem “In Which Raging Weather is a Gift,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. Ellen talks about the importance of letting a poem surprise you as the first draft comes together. She also discusses her thoughts on the revision process, her work translating poetry and prose, and the years she spent running the Smith College Poetry Center.
Podcast: Ellen Doré Watson on “In Which Raging Weather is a Gift”