Ala Fox speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “Ramadan in Saint-Denis,” which appears in The Common’s most recent issue. Ala talks about weaving together the threads of her experiences living in Paris into an essay that explores a lot of questions but doesn’t try to answer them. The piece dives into the dynamics between neighborhoods, and between native Parisians and immigrant communities, and explores the possibility of creating and sustaining love across language barriers and distance. Ala also discusses why she was nervous about publishing the essay, and how it would be received in the Muslim community.
Matt Donovan speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his prose poem “Guy with a Gun,” which appeared in The Common’s fall issue. Matt talks about the conversation that inspired the poem—an encounter with a Sandy Hook parent that highlights the complex gray area around guns and gun ownership. He also discusses how his poetry collection about the issue of guns in the US evolved from a nonfiction book proposal, his aims in undertaking the project, and his job running The Boutelle-Day Poetry Center at Smith College.
Gerardo Sámano Córdova speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his story “Iceberg, Mine,” which appears in The Common’s fall 2022 issue. Gerardo talks about combining the real and the surreal in this story, and using both to show the power of a brief moment of connection. He also discusses the risks and rewards of writing about the fantastical, the process of finding balance through revision, and his debut novel Monstrilio, which is out now from Zando. The novel is about a boy who transforms into a monster, a monster who tries to be a man, and the people who love him in every form he takes.
Podcast: Gerardo Sámano Córdova on “Iceberg, Mine”
Robin Lee Carlson speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “Reading the Ashes,” which appears in The Common’s fall 2022 issue. Robin talks about the many-year process of observation, illustration, and writing that went into the essay, which explores the cycle of fire and rebirth in Cold Canyon. She also discusses how her work balances the poetic and artistic with the scientific, how sketching and watercolors help her understand the natural world, and how she hopes her book will encourage readers to observe and question ecological change in their local areas.
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.
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.
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”
Jane Satterfield speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her poem “Letter to Emily Brontë,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. Jane talks about her longstanding interest in the Brontë sisters, and why this pandemic poem is directed to Emily in particular. She also discusses letter-writing as a structure for poetry, and reads another poem published in The Common, “Totem,” which reflects on a childhood memory through more adult understanding.
Podcast: Jane Satterfield on “Letter to Emily Brontë”
Liesl Schwabe speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “The Marching Bands of Mahatma Gandhi Road,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. Liesl talks about the time she spent in Kolkata, India listening to the mostly-Muslim marching bands perform at Hindu weddings and religious ceremonies, and what drew her to this subject. She also discusses the research, writing, and revision that went into this essay, her approach to teaching creative writing, and her next writing projects.
Podcast: Liesl Schwabe on “The Marching Bands of Mahatma Gandhi Road”
Ben Stroud speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his story “Three Omens of Federico da Montefeltro,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. The story fictionalizes a moment in the lives of historical figures from fifteenth-century Italy. In this conversation, Ben talks about finding his interest in writing stories set in ancient and medieval times, and what kind of research and play is required to blend fact and fiction in those stories. He also discusses his process for revising his work and teaching creative writing.
Podcast: Ben Stroud on “Three Omens of Federico da Montefeltro”