Adapted from Curtis Bauer, The Common’s Translation Editor, and Director of Creative Writing Program and teacher of Comparative Literature at Texas Tech University.
In this exercise you will explore the multidimensionality of a poem, essay, or story by “living with” the author and translator: reading and thinking about their work every day for a week. This is a multi-step assignment so read carefully and make sure you plan in advance.
Asking students to create homages to several of the works in The Common Issues 01 and 07 promotes a further exploration of the city in which they live. In fact, it requires it of them.
In Issue 01 of The Common, Ted Conover delivers an immersion essay in which he delves into the past and present of a nearly forgotten road near his home in New England. The first prompt of the semester, therefore, compels the students to write their own Conover-esque immersion essay by walking/exploring a street, building, or landmark in their city or town, seeking out written resources on this place, and gathering up the courage to probe living memory. The second prompt, handed out several months later, encourages them to become creative with what they have so far discovered in their town or city by selecting the works that most interested them inThe Common and emulating these.
Sample Lesson Plan: Exploring Place through Literary Homage
Using these essays from The Common as inspiration, bring your completely current voice to an exploration of history; write a concise personal essay exploring your personal history or the history of a place.
“Coastlines” by Teow Lim Goh (may also be presented in conjunction with other California authors: Fante, Didion, Jeffers, Hong Kingston, Mori, Himes, etc.)
Choose an essay from The Common and prepare and deliver an oral report in class on the piece, focusing on an aspect of craft: research, voice, style, place, point of view, and the development of the “I” character, as well as characterization of other characters in the piece.
Adapted from Rebecca Chace, Director of Creative Writing, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Assignment: Report on 2 Issues of The Common; select and discuss various, particular elements of the literary journal. 6 pages (1,800 words) minimum.
You will select and discuss 6 items, one from each of the categories below. You must write about at least one item from each issue. Choose from among:
—The Common Statement — Fiction — Essays — Art —Poetry —Elsewhere (Bombay/Mumbai, New Poems from China, etc.)
First Year Seminar: The Short Story at Home and Abroad
Adapted from Martha Cooley, Associate Professor of English, Adelphi University
Propose a new literary magazine:
Imagine a literary magazine (or journal, or review—use whichever term you prefer) that YOU would like to read on a regular basis.
Remember that a literary magazine values good writing and good thinking. Its purpose is not commercial or professional; its purpose is to showcase new, high-quality writing.
Now pretend you’ll be the magazine’s founder and editor-in-chief. As such, you need to develop a “pitch”—that is, a brief, compelling description of the publication that you can offer to people who might be willing to help you make it happen.
What will you say to them when they ask, “What are your hopes and goals for this publication?”
Naturally, you’ll say that the quality of the writing will have to be consistently excellent—otherwise, why bother? Beyond this essential requirement, think about what you would you like your new literary magazine to contain.