Jose Hernandez Diaz speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his poem “Ode to a California Neck Tattoo,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Jose talks about finding his way to prose poetry, initially drawn in by its casual language and style. He also discusses the process of editing and revising poetry, his interest in the surreal, and what it’s like writing from a first generation point of view.
Podcast: Jose Hernandez Diaz on “Ode to a California Neck Tattoo”
Emma Sloley speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her story “The Cassandras,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Sloley talks about writing a story based on the fear of men women are taught to have from a young age. She also discusses her decision to include a sort of Greek chorus in the story, apocalyptic isolation in her novel Disaster’s Children, and how travel writing has changed in the age of Instagram.
Talia Lakshmi Kolluri speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her story “The Good Donkey,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Kolluri talks about writing fiction from the perspectives of different animals, and where the inspiration for those stories comes from. She also discusses how being mixed race can complicate conversations about race and identity in the U.S., how books and literature are making space for those conversations, and how she balances writing with a full-time job as an attorney.
Podcast: Talia Lakshmi Kolluri on “The Good Donkey”
Ravi Shankar speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his essay “The Five-Room Box,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Shankar talks about constructing this essay on identity, family, and fitting in from an excerpt of his memoir, Correctional, about his time spent in prison. He also discusses how that time changed the course of his academic work, what it’s like to transition from poet to prose-writer, and the privilege and profiling Asian-Americans experience as the ‘model minority.’
Wyatt Townley speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her poem “Instructions for the Endgame,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Townley talks about experiencing poetry in all parts of her life—in dance and yoga, in astronomy and physics, and in nature. She also discusses her time as Poet Laureate of Kansas, the pleasure of revising poems, and what it’s like seeing her work performed as an opera.
Podcast: Wyatt Townley on “Instructions for the Endgame”
Silvia Spring speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her debut short story “The Home Front,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation, Spring talks about the inspiration and process behind this story, which tangles with the difficulties of coming into adulthood, and the experience of living abroad without feeling part of the community. Spring drew from her own experience studying and living in London in the U.K., and her time as a journalist at Newsweek, embedded with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The conversation also includes discussion of the revision process; writing without an MFA; and U.S. foreign policy, today and over the last few years.
KC Trommer speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her poem “The Couple,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation, Trommer discusses writing about artwork she finds compelling and sometimes disturbing, like the Louise Bourgeois sculpture explored in this poem. She also discusses her Queens-centered poetry project QUEENSBOUND, her work as a visual artist, and her experience living a block and a half from Elmhurst Hospital in Jackson Heights, the epicenter of the early pandemic.
Jennifer Jean speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her poem “California,” which appears in The Common online, in a special portfolio of writing from the Lusosphere (Portugal and its colonial and linguistic diaspora). Jean talks about writing this poem to be in conversation with Joni Mitchell’s song of the same title, and how music works its way into much of her poetry, in both rhythm and language. She also discusses writing her new poetry collection Object Lesson which centers on trauma, and co-translating poems by Iraqi women poets with an Arabic translator.
Deborah Lindsay Williams speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “‘You Like to Have Some Cup of Tea?’ and Other Questions About Complicity and Place,” which appears in Issue 20 of The Common magazine. In this conversation, Williams talks about living and writing in Abu Dhabi, traveling to South Africa with her family, and how narrow the western view of these places can be, often simplifying very complex issues of racial hierarchy, economics, culture, and history. She also discusses her novel-in-progress, The Corset and the Veil, based on the life of Lady Hester Stanhope, who fled England in 1809 in search of alternatives to her life as an impoverished aristocrat.
I am not pleased. Paint is dripping down my hoof and the colors are muddled together. I shouldn’t complain. I agreed to it, of course.
Hafiz is putting together a zoo. And he asked me to be the zebra.
“You’re a very good donkey, habibi,” he told me three days ago, “but the border is closed, and everyone says prices for using the smuggling tunnels have gone up. I can’t afford the zebra in Damascus, and the one in Cairo is twice that price.” He gestured wildly, scattering my oats. What a waste.
I don’t know much about borders, but I would do anything for Hafiz. He is more than a father to me.