Interviews

Intuitive Nonfiction: An Interview with Courtney Kersten

THAÏS MILLER INTERVIEWS COURTNEY KERSTEN

Courtney Kersten Headshot

Courtney Kersten’s work been featured in Brevity, The Normal School, River Teeth, Hotel Amerika, DIAGRAM, The Sonora Review, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. In 2018, the University of Wisconsin Press published her debut memoir, Daughter in Retrograde.

Thaïs Miller met with Kersten on the campus of the University of California at Santa Cruz, where they are both pursuing PhDs in Literature with a Creative/Critical Writing Concentration. Astrology plays a large role in Kersten’s memoir, so they decided to conduct the interview after a tarot card reading.

Whitney BrunoIntuitive Nonfiction: An Interview with Courtney Kersten
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Keeping Perspective: An Interview with Jeff Holmes

NAYEREH DOOSTI interviews JEFF HOLMES

 Jeff holmes

J.M. Holmes was born in Denver and raised in Rhode Island. His literary prizes include the Burnett Howe Prize for fiction at Amherst College, the Henfield Prize for literature, and a Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, The White Review, How Journal, the Missouri Review, and Gettysburg Review. His debut book How Are You Going to Save Yourself was published with Little, Brown and Sceptre books in August 2018.

DoostiKeeping Perspective: An Interview with Jeff Holmes
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Discrete Brain Containers: An Interview with Rita Bullwinkel

HILARY LEICHTER interviews RITA BULLWINKEL

Rita Bullwinkle

Rita Bullwinkel is the author of the story collection Belly Up (A Strange Object). Her writing has been published in Tin HouseConjunctionsBOMB, ViceNOON, and Guernica. She is a recipient of grants and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Brown University, Vanderbilt University, Hawthornden Castle, and The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. She is an Editor at Large for McSweeney’s, and lives in San Francisco.

Several years ago, when Rita Bullwinkel left New York City for the West Coast, Hilary Leichter went to her bon voyage party, for which Bullwinkel had purchased and reheated 100 pork buns. They did not have any pork buns on hand for this interview, but talked quite a bit over email about what fills their bellies, both literally and literarily.

Debbie WenDiscrete Brain Containers: An Interview with Rita Bullwinkel
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Ask a Local: Ana Teresa Toro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

palm trees

Your name: Ana Teresa Toro

Current city or town: San Juan, Puerto Rico

How long have you lived here: With the exception of two years in Spain, I’ve lived in Puerto Rico almost my whole life. I was born and raised in the center of the island, in a small town called Aibonito.

Three words to describe the climate: 
Tropical, Hot, Lush (You are going to be hit hard by humidity the moment you walk out of the airport, but then, you will feel the caress of the sun and the wind, and maybe of the rain as well. Also, we are obsessed with air conditioning, so you could go from sweating profusely to freezing in minutes). Also, as Gabriel García Márquez’s novel Cien años de soledad portrayed, in the Caribbean we are still obsessed with ice. Months after the hurricane —when it was really a necessity and we waited 6 or 8 hours in line to buy it— this is still a thing. Ice: the ultimate great thing.

Best time of year to visit? Christmas season (In the island it lasts 50 days and the weather is amazing, but besides that the whole country experiences a feeling of constant celebration during those festive days that start just after Thanksgiving and extend until mid-January when we celebrate Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián, a popular festivity with a bit of the experience and feeling of a carnival. We also celebrate the Three Kings Day on January 6th, and share lots of “arroz con gandules”, “pasteles”, “lechón asado”, and our beloved “pitorro.” Most of it made by our mothers and grandmothers.)

Debbie WenAsk a Local: Ana Teresa Toro, San Juan, Puerto Rico
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Rule-Breaking is a Conscious Decision: an Interview with Willie Perdomo

LISA M. MARTINEZ interviews WILLIE PERDOMO

Willie Perdomo Headshot

Poet Willie Perdomo at his home in Exeter, NH
Daffys and Paperwhites

Willie Perdomo is a Puerto Rican poet and storyteller. He is the author of The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon (a 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist), Smoking Lovely (winner of the 2004 PEN Open Book Award), and Where a Nickel Costs a Dime (a Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award Finalist). Perdomo is currently an English instructor at Phillips Exeter Academy. His latest collection, The Crazy Bunch, is forthcoming in 2019, and his poems Breaking Night, They Won’t Find Us in Books, and We Used to Call it Puerto Rican Rain are published in Issue No.16 of The Common.

Via email, Lisa M. Martinez recently spoke to Perdomo about what it’s like to write about his former home, New York City, where much of his inspiration still lies. Perdomo discusses his relationship with that city, communication with ghosts, and the power memory has to transport us to a “gone place.”

Whitney BrunoRule-Breaking is a Conscious Decision: an Interview with Willie Perdomo
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Ask a Local: Snigdha Poonam, Delhi, India

Snigdha Poonam

Snigdha Poonam at a 14th-century stepwell behind her 18-story newspaper office in the heart of Delhi. Photo by Ravi Choudhary.

 

Your name: Snigdha Poonam

Current city: Delhi

How long have you lived here: Nine years

Three words to describe the climate: hot, cold, extreme.

Best time of year to visit: October-March

Emily EverettAsk a Local: Snigdha Poonam, Delhi, India
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Books Can Help Us Feel Seen: an interview with Crystal Hana Kim

MELODY NIXON interviews CRYSTAL HANA KIM

Crystal Hana Kim’s If You Leave Me is a poignant, lucidly written intergenerational story that will leave you aching. The novel takes a clear-eyed look at the ways adults can end up with the lives we didn’t think we would have—how we deal with the mismatch between dream and reality determines our fate.

Debbie WenBooks Can Help Us Feel Seen: an interview with Crystal Hana Kim
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Above the Clouds: An Interview with Chandrahas Choudhury

Chandrahas Choudhury headshot

NEHA KIRPAL interviews CHANDRAHAS CHOUDHURY

Chandrahas Choudhury is a novelist and columnist based in New Delhi. His first novel Arzee the Dwarf was shortlisted for the Commonwealth First Book Prize and chosen by World Literature Today as one of “60 Essential English-Language Works of Modern Indian Literature.” Choudhury is also the editor of India: A Traveler’s Literary Companion.

Released by Simon & Schuster this year, Clouds is Choudhury’s second novel. While fictional, the book weaves in topical themes of religion, democracy, and politics in India.

Via email, Neha Kirpal recently spoke with Choudhury about the people and places that influenced Clouds’ narrative and characters, his obsession with clouds, and a recent mango trail he undertook across the subcontinent.

Avery FarmerAbove the Clouds: An Interview with Chandrahas Choudhury
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Ask a Local: Ko Ko Thett, Sagaing, Myanmar

With KO KO THETT

The lively streets of Sagaing.

The lively streets of Sagaing. Photo by Thett Su San

Name: Ko Ko Thett

Current town: Sagaing, Myanmar

How long have you lived here: Fifteen months

Three words to describe the climate: Humid-hot, humid-cool, humid-rainy

Best time of year to visit? From July to the end of February. My favorite time is after a drizzle, when the dust settles. 

Whitney BrunoAsk a Local: Ko Ko Thett, Sagaing, Myanmar
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Salons, New York City, and the Litriarchy: an interview with Iris Martin Cohen

Iris Martin Cohen

MELODY NIXON interviews IRIS MARTIN COHEN

Iris Martin Cohen’s debut novel is a witty, incisive, and very funny send up of New York City literary circles and the ambition that drives them. The Common’s Interviews Editor Melody Nixon spoke with Cohen this month about The Little Clan, New York high society, contemporary American male writers and their pitfalls, the female socialite ideal, and, you know, what to do about patriarchal capitalism.

Avery FarmerSalons, New York City, and the Litriarchy: an interview with Iris Martin Cohen
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