DUR e AZIZ AMNA is the author of American Fever, a coming-of-age story replete with warmth, poeticism, and wit. It is a story about home and homeland and refuses to settle for easy definitions of either. The Guardian calls American Fever “a subversive debut” and the Los Angeles Review of Books calls it “a quiet triumph.” Over a series of emails, FARAH ALI and Dur e discussed how Dur e avoided sketching reductive pictures of Pakistan and America, illness as a vehicle for revealing uncomfortable truths, and the ways certain ideas are shattered after leaving home.
Moving Beyond the Trappings of Multilingualism: Farah Ali interviews Dur e Aziz Amna
JANE SATTERFIELD and ROSANNA YOUNG OH—poets who met at the 2023 Poetry by the Sea Global conference in Madison, CT—connected via email between Baltimore and New York City, and reflected on the power of inherited narratives, their shared fandom of Jane Eyre, sustaining creativity, and Rosanna’s newest collection, The Corrected Version.
The Magnetic Pull of Place: An Interview with Rosanna Young Oh
Haitian-born poet ENZO SILON SURIN gives “voice to experiences that take place in what he calls broken spaces.” These are the spaces he writes about, writes for, and writes from. In his latest poetry collection, American Scapegoat, following the success of his last book, When My Body Was A Clinched Fist, Surin illuminates our opaque relationship with the truest history of Black America. His poems invoke an urgent conversation, which is why the word “interview” here feels unmalleable; Enzo and DAPHNE STRASSMANN had a vulnerable exchange about the inheritance and meaning of a broken space.
Interrogating the Narrative of Injustice: Daphne Santana Strassmann interviews Enzo Silon Surin
After thirty-six hours of travel, VALERIA LUISELLI arrived at Amherst College LitFest on a freezing Saturday night just in time to speak with The Common’s editor-in-chief JENNIFER ACKER. Their conversation explored the capacity of memory to shape geography, the relationship between language and home, and the architecture of a book. Luiselli also spoke with honesty and ardor about her research in and around the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and her experience as a legal translator for refugees, experiences informing her acclaimed novel Lost Children Archive. This interview is an edited and condensed version of the live conversation; read more about LitFest, and watch a video of the full conversation online.
Let Me Open the Window: Valeria Luiselli in conversation with Jennifer Acker at LitFest 2023
JOANNE McFARLAND is an artist, poet, and curator whose work centers on the intersection of language and visual representation. Her newest collection, Pullman (Grid Books, 2023), is a brilliant and singular exploration of form and artistic disciplines that examines themes of labor, creativity, eroticism, and love, engaging and interacting with events in the American past as they relate to the state of being human today. By exploring the history of the Pullman car porters of the late 19th-century railroads, McFarland’s poems and integrative collages explore historical sources, entries from the Black Almanac of 1972, lyrics created by McFarland’s own father—a songwriter for Aretha Franklin—and vintage French magazines.In this interview, MAKENNA GOODMAN connected with McFarland about Pullman and the broader scope of her artistic work. McFarland asks us to consider our relationship to the erotic, to our delight, to the sensual experience of being alive, to our drive to make music from a moan, to adhere ripped pages into re-imagined dresses, to reconsider the past as a way out of pain.
Creativity as the Opposite of Violence: Makenna Goodman Interviews JoAnne McFarland
SARA FREEMAN‘s arresting, lyrically economical Tides has been generating buzz from the likes of Time Magazine, The New York Times, and Lit Hub since it was released last year. The Guardian calls this fragmentary, feminist novel “an experimental study in grief.” But what does it mean to write a feminist novel, these days, and to dwell in your characters’ grief? And how do experimental writing forms intersect with feminism?
MELODY NIXON sat down with Freeman, her graduate-school colleague, to discuss Tides; its liminal setting; what it’s like when we hear our characters’ voices in our heads; the ways that novels might ruin our lives; and the anxiety “of near-constant potential narrative collapse” that Freeman navigated while writing this extraordinary debut.
Sentences Worth Keeping: Melody Nixon Interviews Sara Freeman
MILO MUISE’s recent collection, TL;DR, was selected by Hanif Abdurraqib as the winner of the 2021 Newfound Prose Prize. In this interview, RAGE HEZEKIAH and Milo Muise connected about humor, punctuation, and how environment shapes who we become.
Embodying a Permissive Playfulness: Rage Hezekiah interviews Milo Muise
Ted Conover began reporting his latest book, Cheap Land Colorado, in May of 2017, in a scenic and unforgiving stretch of the San Luis Valley known locally as the Flats. He tells the story of a diverse cast of off-grid homesteaders, struggling to bootstrap a life on the rural margins. Conover was first introduced to the locals as a volunteer for a nonprofit called La Puente. Under the tutelage of a military vet named Matt Little, he went door to door offering help with basic necessities like food and firewood. Over the course of the next five years he became a regular fixture in the valley, splitting time between a rented trailer parked on the property of a local family (the Grubers) and his adopted home of New York City where he teaches in the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. Eventually, Conover bought his own parcel in the Valley, haggling down from twenty to fifteen-thousand dollars. When we spoke by phone in December, he said, “I’m probably not the only writer in New York on a crowded subway car who sometimes misses the place they grew up.”
The Challenge of First Impressions: Lisa Wells Interviews Ted Conover
ROBIN McLEAN met JIM SHEPARD in a fiction workshop in Italy in 2013, two years after she’d finished her MFA in fiction, two years after she’d sworn off all workshops forever. But she’d read a few of Jim’s stories by then and was hooked. She’s worked with Jim on many stories since, has followed him and Karen Shepard around. Many do. Robin generally shows up with a pile of questions, often about agency or “rate of revelation” or “subliminal coordinates.” If you don’t know what those are, sign up for a workshop with Jim Shepard.
Here are some inquiries asked and answered on a spring pilgrimage to Western Mass in 2022, a sunny morning on a snowy hilltop, an icon of an old tape deck set on RECORD between cups of coffee, three dogs hunting crumbs around the table, then basking in the sun as the ideas flowed.
Looking for the Weirdness: An Interview with Jim Shepard
NICHOLAS GOODLY’s debut full-length poetry collection, Black Swim was published by Copper Canyon Press in September 2022. JAAMIL OLAWALE KOSOKO and Nicholas recently connected over Zoom and talked about interdisciplinary art and writing, the essential nature of rest, and prioritizing creative expression.
Intentional Offerings: jaamil olawale kosoko interviews Nicholas Goodly