Amherst, MA. Dec. 8, 2015—For the second year in a row, The Common literary magazine has been awarded an Art Works Grant of $10,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts. Based at Amherst College, The Common is one of 80 organizations across the country to receive an NEA Literature grant in 2015. The NEA funds will be matched by $20,000 from Amherst College and support:
- A special issue of contemporary Arabic fiction, Tajdeed (Renewal), to be published in April 2016
- The Common in the Classroom, an educational outreach program providing resources for educators to bring the magazine’s diverse, place-based literature into classrooms across the country
“This award comes at a particularly exciting moment for The Common,” says Editor in Chief Jennifer Acker. “Having just celebrated our fifth publishing year, all of us at the magazine are eager to push ourselves to continue to publish the best placed-based literature being written today and to mentor the next generation of readers, writers, and editors.”
Tajdeed (Renewal) will feature English translations of Arabic fiction from more than 25 writers hailing from 15 Middle Eastern countries. Collaborating on this special issue are internationally acclaimed Jordanian author Hisham Bustani and Arabic translators, editors, and writers from around the world. By providing U.S. readers with access to underrepresented Arabic voices, The Common seeks to promote greater cross-cultural conversation and understanding.
“This volume can make a real difference in raising awareness of the exciting and varied stories being written right now across the Middle East,” Acker says, “particularly for students in high school, college, and graduate school classrooms through the magazine’s educational outreach program. Today’s students are our future readers, writers, and editors, and introducing them to sophisticated, engaging literature by authors of various ages from all backgrounds, never ceases to be rewarding and inspiring.”
In 2015, The Common reached students in 13 classrooms, providing discounted subscriptions and free online resources to faculty to help them teach global literatures and develop students’ critical reading and writing skills.
In addition to supporting the print publication of Tajdeed, the NEA award will help to produce a podcast series featuring Arabic contributors in conversation with American authors, as well as bilingual selections on The Common Online. NEA support will also fund affordable print and digital formats for students and the development of multimedia resources for The Common in the Classroom teachers.
“The Common’s second NEA award marks the journal’s commitment to literary quality and innovation, as well as its ongoing dedication to mentorship and education,” says Amherst College Dean of the Faculty Catherine Epstein. “It’s thrilling that our Amherst College students who participate in The Common’s literary publishing program are supporting these important and far-reaching efforts to publish excellent, diverse writers and to make this literature available in a variety of formats and settings.”