“Clarity isn’t an exciting virtue, but it is a virtue always.” I repeat this maxim to my students, and it runs through my own head with even greater frequency. It comes from Good Prose, a guide to writing and editing excellent nonfiction, co-written by Tracy Kidder and the late Richard Todd, who passed away on April 21.
For Amherst College’s fourth annual LitFest, The Common put together a Literary Landmarks tour of Amherst College, highlighting locations on campus with special connections to literary figures affiliated with the college, from Robert Frost to Lauren Groff. Building on that effort, we’ve compiled these highlights from The Common that were written either by or about Amherst professors, alums, and even current students.
Richard Wilbur graduated from Amherst College in 1942, and returned to Amherst to teach towards the end of his life, from 2008 to 2014.
“Richard Wilbur first visited Rome with the American Fifth Army that liberated the city, just behind the fleeing Germans, on 5 June 1944. By 10:00 p.m., his division, the 36th Texans, in trucks, in jeeps, and on mobile artillery, followed the tanks of the First Armored Division into the southern outskirts of Rome, where it paused, expecting to camp and rest within Cinecittà—then, as now, the sprawling center of Italy’s movie industry. Ever the explorer, Wilbur wandered into an abandoned viewing room and found, already loaded into an editing machine, a costume drama set in the Roman Empire. He turned the hand crank and watched a Fascist version of ancient history until his disgust overcame his curiosity.”
This year marks the fourth LitFest, an annual literary festival hosted at Amherst College. From February 2-March 2, students, professors, alumni, and community members came together in Amherst College’s Johnson Chapel to hear National Book Award finalists Jennifer Egan, Brandon Hobson, and Jamel Brinkley speak about their writing processes, what writing means to them, and the purpose of writing. On March 2, Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth Kolbert and NYT-bestselling author Charles C. Mann ’76 had a robust conversation about environmental changes and science journalism. Additional events included author masterclasses, a poetry slam, career panels, and a literary tour of Amherst. LitFest is sponsored by The Common, the Center for Humanistic Inquiry and the Emily Dickinson Museum.
Event Date: Wednesday, March 27–Saturday, March 30 Location: Oregon Convention Center
The Common will host a booth at AWP 2019 from March 27–30. Visit us at table T7040, and check out these panels, featuring Editor-in-chief Jennifer Acker and Managing Editor Emily Everett! More info below.
Isabel Meyers2019 AWP Writers Conference in Portland
Featured authors include Jennifer Egan, Elizabeth Kolbert, Jamel Brinkley, Brandon Hobson, and more!
Amherst College’s fourth annual LitFest, a literary festival celebrating fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and spoken-word performance, will be hosted on February 27 – March 2 of this year. Co-hosted by The Common, this year’s events feature panels with 2018 National Book Award Fiction Finalists Jamel Brinkley and Brandon Hobson, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction author Elizabeth Kolbert, award-winning science writer Charles C. Mann, and more. Author events will be taking place in either Frost Library or Johnson Chapel on Amherst College campus, with most being followed by Q&A sessions and book-signings. All events are free and open to the public. Click here for coverage from the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
Whitney BrunoJoin Us For Amherst College LitFest 2019
As The Common office continues to anticipate the exciting work we plan to share in 2019 both online and in our next issues, it seems like a great time to reflect on the pieces that made 2018 just as exciting for us. See what resonated with readers the most in 2018 by browsing the list below of our most-read works of the past year: they range from fiction to essays, interviews, and more!
Whitney BrunoThe Common’s 10 Most-Read Pieces of 2018
Signups for Weekly Writes Vol. 2 closed on January 27th. To register your interest in future WW programs, click here.
Weekly Writes is a ten-week program designed to help you create original place-based fiction and nonfiction.
WW Volume 2 kicks off on January 28, just in time to help you sustain the momentum of your New Year’s writing resolution! The deadline to sign up is January 27, 2019.
Sign up for Volume 2 is now closed. The $15 fee includes one free, expedited* submission via Submittable after program completion. Prompts and advice are brand new for Volume 2, so Volume 1 participants will not encounter any repetition or old prompts.
Welcome to the TC Alumni spotlight, where we highlight the achievements of our former staff members! This month, we’re checking in with Meghan Maria McCullough, a former Senior Editorial Assistant and Amherst College Class of 2015. Since graduation, Meghan has worked in publishing at organizations such as Penguin Random House and Union Literary, and has most recently been hired as an Editorial Assistant at Arthur A. Levine Books.
Congratulations on your new role at Scholastic! What drew you to join this publisher in particular?
Thank you! I’m just over three months in and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be here. I was drawn to Scholastic, and my imprint, Arthur A. Levine Books, in particular, because I love children’s books–picture books, Middle Grade, Young Adult especially. That’s what Scholastic does, and in my opinion, we do it better than anyone else out there. I am so proud to work for the publisher of, yes, Harry Potter, but also of some of the most remarkable children’s books being released today. Some of my recent favorites of ours that have been just-released or are coming down the pike include: a Middle Grade calledThe Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty, a young adult novel coming in February calledThe Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg, and a just-released picture book calledGood Morning, Snowplow! by Deborah Bruss, illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson. I am of the mind that the books that we read growing up are the most important books we will ever read–they are the books that shape us, they are our closest friends, they are the building blocks that we stack into a worldview. I still can’t quite believe that now I get to have a hand in making them.
Flavia MartinezTC Alumni Spotlight: Meghan Maria McCullough
Don’t miss The Common’s annual author postcard auction! Bid for a chance to win a postcard from your favorite writer, handwritten for yourself or a person of your choice. Past years’ authors have gone above and beyond in creating their postcards, penning long letters or including drawings of recipients’ dogs.
Postcards will be written and mailed in time for the holidays! Makes a great gift – choose who the postcard goes to, and have it personalized for them.
This month, enjoy a new feature that celebrates the wonderful former interns and employees that have worked at The Common over the years. Though we miss seeing them everyday, we’re continually impressed by what they go on to accomplish. This month, we’re catching up with former Editorial Assistant JinJin Xu, an Amherst College alumna, Watson Fellow, and most recently, recipient of the Lillian Vernon Fellowship at NYU.