Leo Ríos speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his story “Lencho,” which appears in The Common’s most recent issue, in a portfolio from the immigrant farmworker community. Leo talks about the process of writing and revising this story, which explores the friendship between two high school seniors in a rural community in California’s Central Valley. Leo also discusses his family’s generations-long history in farm labor, and how a class on reading poetry made him rethink prose writing on the sentence level.
Vix Gutierrez speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “Don’t Step Off the Path,” which appears in The Common’s most recent issue. Vix talks about writing this essay, a coming of age story about her teenage years spent in the Balkans immediately after the Yugoslav Wars, where she lived with a very small humanitarian aid organization. The essay is a fascinating look at a rarely-explored moment in time, and probes the doubts, dangers, and power that come from being a young woman in a postwar landscape of men. Vix also discusses her formative time spent at the DISQUIET International Program in Lisbon, Portugal, and in the MFA program at the University of Florida.
Podcast: Vix Gutierrez on “Don’t Step Off the Path”
Christopher Spaide speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his poem “Closure?,” which appears in The Common’s most recent issue. Chris talks about how his curiosity for language and wordplay often lead him into deeper themes in his poems. He also discusses taking his first poetry class at Amherst College, and, now, teaching poetry classes himself at Emory University.
Jake Lancaster speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his story “Grace’s Folly,” which appears in The Common’s most recent issue. Jake talks about writing stories that lean into the offbeat, uncomfortable, and sometimes grotesque parts of his characters and their lives. He also discusses his writing and revision process—carving away at long first drafts until all that’s left is essential—and his work teaching writing at the University of Minnesota.
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.