Film Review: Holler

Film written and Directed by NICOLE RIEGEL


Holler film movie poster


In Tara Westover’s bestselling 2018 memoir, Educated, a wildly intelligent young woman finds herself stuck working in her family’s junkyard, unable to leave her isolated Idaho town even as she longs to go to college. Public school is forbidden by her fundamentalist Mormon father, so she is homeschooled with her siblings and forced to scrap metal in illegal and unsafe conditions. Westover’s gripping story of escape captivated readers across the country, and I found myself thinking of it as I watched Nicole Riegel’s directorial debut, Holler, which concerns a young woman facing similar challenges.

Film Review: Holler

Hunters’ Gate


Image of the cover of The Great Mistake by Jonathan Lee.

Excerpted from THE GREAT MISTAKE ©2021 by Jonathan Lee, published by Alfred A. Knopf. (Pre-order here)

One night, out walking, unable to sleep, and more fatigued than usual by his endlessly unfolding apprenticeship, the eighteen-hour days, the bugs that puncture his skin every night, the lack of money for real milk or for visiting his favorite sister, Andrew saw a man in the street who was raising a gun and pointing it at what?

A young mastiff, thin and weary-looking, staggering for a place to sleep.

Hunters’ Gate

The Common Awarded 2021 Amazon Literary Partnership grant

amazon literary partnership

Amherst, MA, June 4, 2021 — The Common, the award-winning literary journal based at Amherst College, is a 2021 Literary Magazine Fund Grant Recipient, awarded in alliance with the Amazon Literary Partnership Literary Magazine Fund and the Community of Literary Magazines & Presses. Since 2017, funding from the Amazon Literary Partnership has helped further The Common’s mission of publishing and promoting emerging and underrepresented authors who deepen our individual and collective sense of place.  

With this $7,000 grant, The Common will publish, promote, and support a diverse group of writers in its print magazine and open-access website, connecting authors with a global readership. In the spring of 2022, The Common will continue its series of translated Arabic fiction with a collection of short stories from Palestinian authors, co-edited by acclaimed Jordanian author, and The Common’s Arabic Fiction Editor, Hisham Bustani. As part of The Common’s spring issue, this portfolio will feature contemporary Palestinian voices alongside poetry and prose from the US and abroad.

Recent issues of The Common have featured short stories from Morocco (Issue 21, spring 2021), literature from and about the Lusosphere (Portugal and its linguistic and colonial diaspora) in Issue 20, and fiction from Sudan in Issue 19. A collection of writing from the Arabian Gulf, co-edited with Egyptian author Noor Naga, is forthcoming this fall. All of the above portfolios have been developed with Amazon Literary Partnership support.

The Common Awarded 2021 Amazon Literary Partnership grant

Exclusive Fee-Free Submission Period for BIPOC Writers

Inspired by the mission and role of the town common, an egalitarian gathering place, The Common aims to foster the global exchange of diverse ideas and experiences. As such, we welcome and encourage submissions from writers who are Black, Indigenous, people of color, disabled, LGBTQIA+-identifying, immigrant, international, and/or otherwise from communities underrepresented in U.S. literary magazines and journals.

Exclusive fee-free submission period for BIPOC Writers image
In an effort to remove barriers to access, The Common will open exclusively for BIPOC writers for two weeks, and waive submission fees, from June 14 – June 28. Outside of that time, submitters with any financial hardship can contact us at [email protected] for a fee waiver. 

Exclusive Fee-Free Submission Period for BIPOC Writers

June 2021 Friday Reads



In the June edition of Friday Reads, our Managing Editor and two of our volunteer readers recommend books that have refreshed and engaged them as the start of summer creeps closer. Read onward for reflections on translation, the lasting and often problematic legacy of novels, and the importance of maintaining hope.

Recommendations: Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri, Without a Map by Meredith Hall, Lolita in the Afterlife edited by Jenny Minton Quigley



June 2021 Friday Reads

Podcast: KC Trommer on “The Couple”

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KC Trommer speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her poem “The Couple,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation, Trommer discusses writing about artwork she finds compelling and sometimes disturbing, like the Louise Bourgeois sculpture explored in this poem. She also discusses her Queens-centered poetry project QUEENSBOUND, her work as a visual artist, and her experience living a block and a half from Elmhurst Hospital in Jackson Heights, the epicenter of the early pandemic.

KC Trommer and Issue 20 of The Common

Podcast: KC Trommer on “The Couple”

Translation: Hong Kong Poet Chung Kwok-keung


Translated from the Chinese by MAY HUANG 黃鴻霙

Poems appear in both Chinese and English.


Translator’s Note

Cha chaan tengs, local diners that serve comfort food all day, are a cornerstone of Hong Kong culture. At a cha chaan teng, you can order beef satay noodles for breakfast, a cup of milk tea stronger than any Starbucks coffee, lo mai gai (glutinous rice and chicken wrapped in a lotus leaf), and more. To many Hongkongers, cha chaan tengs evoke a sense of familiarity and nostalgia. Indeed, it was precisely these feelings that drew me, a Hongkonger living in America, to translate Chung Kwok-keung’s remarkable poems.

Chung wrote “The Cha Chaan Teng on Fortune Street” in 1996 about a Cha Chaan Teng he visited in Sham Shui Po while running an errand. He no longer remembers what the errand was for, he writes in a blog post, but “words have helped [him] remember concrete details of that cha chaan teng.” At the same time, he also wonders whether there is something about a place that is lost forever once it no longer exists, no matter what we write down. As evocative as the details in this poem are, from the “soft clink” of utensils to the “grease-soaked hair” of a waiter, the poem ends on a note of uncertainty, unsure of whether words can safeguard memory. 

Translation: Hong Kong Poet Chung Kwok-keung

Anticipating, Zebra Finches



Birds on tree branch


Avon Valley, Western Australia

Just below, a roo doe digs into the softest
soil it can find — avoiding rocks — to make
a hollow for itself and the joey heavy in its pouch;
it lifts, digs, turns drops lifts digs turns drops.

Anticipating, Zebra Finches

Frost’s Footfall


Image of bluebells blooming in a forest.

The bulky figure coming towards me on the path has a stick in one hand, a small bag in the other, but I can’t make out his face because the dappled light that filters through the trees in the wood is playing with his features. As with most people, my mind drifts when I go for long walks and I forget about my surroundings until something like the cackle of a crow or a breaking twig or the heavy tread of somebody approaching, snaps me out of my reverie and, for a nanosecond, I am in the grip of a timeless uncertainty. I think of bandits, pilgrims, squires and ploughmen but, by the time we are a few yards from each other, I see the pleasant face of what turns out to be a maths teacher on a weekend break. His rucksack contains a plastic bottle of water, which he finishes off in a few gulps, and his stick is one of those Nordic walking poles.

Frost’s Footfall

May 2021 Poetry Feature: Humberto Ak’abal, Translated by Loren Goodman


Translated by LOREN GOODMAN

Table of Contents

  • Holes
  • Courage
  • Love
  • Mirror
  • Stone bread
  • We sow
  • Mrs. Wara’t

Humberto Ak’abal (1952 – 2019), a poet of K’iche’ Maya ethnicity, was born in Momostenango, Guatemala. One of the most well-known Guatemalan poets in Europe and South America, his works have been translated into French, English, German, Italian, Portuguese, Hebrew, Arabic, Japanese, Scottish, Hungarian and Estonian. The author of over twenty books of poetry and several other collections of short stories and essays, Ak’abal received numerous awards and honors, including the Golden Quetzal granted by the Association of Guatemalan Journalists in 1993, and the International Blaise Cendrars Prize for Poetry from Switzerland in 1997. In 2005 he was named Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture, and in 2006 was the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.

Loren Goodman was born in Kansas and studied in New York, Tucson, Buffalo, and Kobe. He is the author of Famous Americans, selected by W.S. Merwin for the 2002 Yale Series of Younger Poets, and Non-Existent Facts (otata’s bookshelf, 2018), as well as the chapbooks Suppository Writing (The Chuckwagon, 2008), New Products (Proper Tales Press, 2010) and, with Pirooz Kalayeh, Shitting on Elves & Other Poems (New Michigan Press, 2020). A Professor of creative writing and English literature at Yonsei University/Underwood International College in Seoul, Korea, he serves as the Chair of Comparative Literature and Culture and Creative Writing Director.


When the fireflies wake up:
The night is full of yellow holes.



After fifty years
I cannot measure the strength of her courage.

How many times have I seen her sad,
broken under the weight of work,
crying in silence,
suffering within.

And today, as if suddenly
I would have lifted my eyes;
I look at my mother
and I realize
that I too
I am getting older



Although surrounded by thorns,
The hummingbird drinks from the lips
Of the incarnate tuna flower.



The mirror does not speak,
But says things 

That leave you speechless.


Stone bread

“I give you this bread.”

“I’m not your fool, that’s a stone.”

“Yes, but the Holy Word says that,
If you tell it to become bread,
It will become bread.”

“Now why the fuck don’t you become a baker?”


We sow

We sow trees
With the dream of reaping birds


Mrs. Wara’t

I sang playing in the sand
And Mrs. Wara’t asked Grandma
Who had taught me how to sing.

“When he was born
He came with a little bird in his throat.”

“Oh, no wonder…”


May 2021 Poetry Feature: Humberto Ak’abal, Translated by Loren Goodman