Teach Issue 23

Cover of Issue 23 of The Common, showing a piece of toast on a teal backdrop with The Common's logo superimposedWhy Teach The Common?

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Supplementary materials for teaching Issue 23 are listed below.

To accompany the portfolio Arabic Short Stories from Palestine

Explore our collected resources and lesson plans related to literary translation in general, and to Arabic literature in translation, in particular. 


Podcast: Suhail Matar on “Granada.” Suhail speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his story, which was translated by Amika Fendi. He talks about the inspiration and process behind the story, which explores the complex ways in which Palestinians connect when they meet and interact abroad. Suhail also discusses the difficulties of translation, the history and modern realities of Palestinians living within Israel’s current borders, and his PhD work exploring how the brain processes and reacts to language.


Podcast: Nariman Youssef. Nariman has translated numerous Arabic stories for The Common’s portfolios. In this conversation, Nariman discusses three stories she translated for the Issue 21 portfolio of stories from Morocco and the conscious and unconscious decisions a translator makes through many drafts, including the choice to preserve some features of the language, sound, and cadence that may not sound very familiar to English-language readers. She also discusses her thoughts on how the translation world has changed over the years, and her exciting work as Arabic Translation Manager at the British Library.


In an interview with Book Blast, translator Nashwa Gowanlock discusses her career as a translator, favorite literary journals, and favorite prose writers.


“Palestinian Intellectuals Discuss Politics and Ethics of Translation.” Eyad Barghuthy participated in and edited this discussion on the practice and ramifications of translating literary works from Arabic into Hebrew, hosted by the Maktoob book series, for which Barguthy is an editor (via Journal of Levantine Studies). 


In Abeer Khshiboon’s “The Stranger,” a Fairouz concert provides the setting for a vital moment of connection; read more about Fairouz’s significance and listen to some of her songs (via The Markaz Review).


Learn more about the work of Samira Azzam at ArabLit.org; Azzam’s story “The Roc Flew Over Shahraban” is from a collection of Azzam’s stories, Out of Time, translated by Ranya Abdelrahman, which will be available in fall 2022.


Pair Sheikha Hussein Helawy’s “Who Drew the Curtains” with her story “A Night Visit” via The Short Story Project (also available in Arabic and Hebrew); students might consider how the narrative voices  in these stories grant the reader access to otherwise inaccessible perspectives. 


Poetry by Suheir Abu Oksa Daoud is featured alongside work by ten other Arabic-language poets, via The Loch Raven Review.


See also: Words Without Borders collection New Palestinian Writing, selected and introduced by Nathalie Handal, which includes another story by Issue 23 contributor Eyad Barghuthy: “A Knockout Punch.” 


For further exploration here and elsewhere 

Podcast: Ellen Doré Watson on “In Which Raging Weather is a Gift.” Ellen talks about the importance of letting a poem surprise you as the first draft comes together. She also discusses her thoughts on the revision process, her work translating poetry and prose, and the years she spent running the Smith College Poetry Center.


Podcast: Jane Satterfield on “Letter to Emily Brontë.” Jane talks about her longstanding interest in the Brontë sisters, and why this pandemic poem is directed to Emily in particular. She also discusses letter-writing as a structure for poetry, and reads another poem published in The Common, “Totem,” which reflects on a childhood memory through more adult understanding.


Podcast: Liesl Schwabe on “The Marching Bands of Mahatma Gandhi Road.” Liesl talks about the time she spent in Kolkata, India listening to the mostly-Muslim marching bands perform at Hindu weddings and religious ceremonies, and what drew her to this subject. She also discusses the research, writing, and revision that went into this essay, her approach to teaching creative writing, and her next writing projects.


Podcast: Ben Stroud on “Three Omens of Federico da Montefeltro.” The story fictionalizes a moment in the lives of historical figures from fifteenth-century Italy. In this conversation, Ben talks about finding his interest in writing stories set in ancient and medieval times, and what kind of research and play is required to blend fact and fiction in those stories. He also discusses his process for revising his work and teaching creative writing.


Podcast: Anu Kumar on “The Woman in the Well.” Anu talks about the vivid memories from childhood that inspired this essay about ghosts, fear, family dynamics, and violence against women in India. She also discusses the revision process for the essay, her interest in writing women’s untold stories, and her current writing projects.


Podcast: Mark Kyungsoo Bias on “Adoption Day.” Mark talks with Emily Everett about the inspiration and process behind the poem, which looks at issues like memory, immigration, and racism in post-9/11 America, all through the lens of a family experience. He also discusses his approach to language, sound, line breaks, and more, and the methods and techniques he’s found helpful in revising poetry. In this episode, Mark reads two additional poems published in The Common: “Meeting My Mother” and “Visitor.”


Podcast: Adrienne G. Perry on “Flashé Sur Moi.” Adrienne talks about the questions that inspired this essay: questions about memory and friendship and coming of age, questions about what it means to desire someone and be desired, and what we do to appear desirable to others. She also discusses her approach to teaching creative writing, her interest in writing about place, and her current works-in-progress.


Podcast: Cheryl Collins Isaac on “Spin.” The Issue 23 short story “Spin” is about two Liberian immigrants making a new life in Appalachia. In this conversation, Cheryl talks about the inspiration behind this story: writing from music and toward beautiful, sensual language. She also discusses Liberia’s interesting cultural history, her writing and revision process, and what it’s like to do a writing residency in Edith Wharton’s bedroom.


Podcast: Nathan Jordan Poole on “Idlewild.” In this conversation, Nathan talks about doing seasonal work at Christmas tree farms, the workers from all walks of life he met there, and how those experiences and those people helped to inspire this story. He also discusses his writing and revision process, his story collections and future projects, and why he chooses to write unromantically about rural life.


After reading “The Marching Bands of Mahatma Gandhi Road,” read more from Liesl Schwabe: “Flying the Hump” in The Common Online and “To the Sadhu Who Buried Himself Underground” in Off Assignment’s Letter to a Stranger column. 


In “A Letter to Leena” Mary Jo Salter writes toward the future, while Jane Satterfield’s “Letter to Emily Brontë” addresses a subject long gone, and yet each of these poems is also deeply situated in a present moment shaped by the pandemic. Students might consider how each poem addresses and communicates to its subject, and the sense of intimacy created within each poem, before trying their own hand at their own epistolary poems. For further inspiration, see other epistolary poems in our pages: Jessica Lanay’s “A Complicated Letter to Sándor Ferenczi” (Issue 15) and Angela Veronica Wong’s “Dear Johnny, In Your Last Letter” (Issue 03). 


After reading “Breakfast of Champions,” explore Tina Cane’s “Essay on States” and “Regime” in our August 2021 poetry feature; for further insight into Cane’s work, see “Poetry, Politics, and Public Spaces: An Interview with Tina Cane” in Brown Political Review.


More from Issue 23’s poets in our pages:

Teach Issue 23