February 2021 Poetry Feature

Poems by REBECCA MORGAN FRANK, JEFFREY HARRISON, CALEB NOLEN, and ALEXANDRA WATSON.

Contents:

  • Rebecca Morgan Frank  |  I hold with those who favor fire
  • Jeffrey Harrison  |  Hazards, 2020
  • Caleb Nolen  | The Deal
                           | Jonah Years
  • Alexandra Watson | when the party’s over or, portrait of an addict zero days sober or, my mom sent me this book healing the addicted brain 

  

  

February 2021 Poetry Feature
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Delusions of Grandeur

By A. NATASHA JOUKOVSKY

There is something post-decadent about Versailles in winter. The fountains are off; there are not many tourists. Everything is still fiercely geometric and over-the-top, but in this gray, expired kind of way, at least for most of the day; sunset, and the crisp, clear chill of nighttime being the exceptions. Most of the sculptures are covered with tarps, and tertiary destinations like the amphitheater and “outdoor living room” are gated off entirely. As at all times of year, there is remarkably little furniture, the bulk of it having been moved to the Louvre in the name of égalité. I spent the first five years of my career working in grand museums, and this has always been one of my favorite things about them: that they are bastions of opulence that seem morally defensible, inclusive and elite at once. Because Versailles too is now a museum, the awesomeness of its grandeur has been contextualized into an argument against itself, its ostentation forgiven as a public good. At moments it feels almost Soviet, and you can’t help but be reminded that if you trace the political spectrum far enough left or right you end up in effectively the same place. 

Delusions of Grandeur
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LitFest 2021 Excerpt: Interior Chinatown

By CHARLES YU

Image of Charles Yu's book, Interior Chinatown.

Amherst College’s sixth annual literary festival will take place virtually this year, from Thursday, February 25 to Sunday, February 28. Among the guests are 2020 National Book Award fiction winner Charles Yu and longlist nominee Megha Majumdar. The Common is pleased to reprint a short excerpt from Yu’s novel Interior Chinatown here.

Join Megha Majumdar and Charles Yu in conversation with host Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint (visiting writer at Amherst College) on Friday, February 26 from 7 to 8pm. 

Register and see the full list of LitFest events here.


LitFest 2021 Excerpt: Interior Chinatown
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LitFest 2021 Goes Virtual

LitFest 2021 Header

We hope you’ll join us for the sixth annual LitFest, hosted in conjunction with Amherst College. This year’s festival features 2020 National Book Award for Fiction winner Charles Yu and finalist Megha Majumdar, National Book Award for Poetry finalists Natalie Diaz and Tommye Blount, and Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Applebaum, among others. 

This year, to celebrate Amherst College’s Bicentennial, we’ll have a very special set of readings by The Common‘s very own Literary Publishing Interns at 4:30 pm on Saturday. Join us for this packed weekend!

All events require registration; register at this link by choosing the events you’d like to attend! 

   

A Conversation with 2020 National Book Award Winner Charles Yu and Nominee Megha Majumdar with a Welcome from President Biddy Martin
Host: Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint
7– 8:00 p.m., Friday, February 26
Hosted in partnership with the National Book Foundation

    

A Conversation with 2020 National Book Award for Poetry Finalists Tommye Blount and Natalie Diaz
Host: John Hennessy, poetry editor of The Common
11– 12:00 p.m., Saturday, February 27
Hosted in partnership with the National Book Foundation

   

Alumni Authors Cocktail Hour Reading 
Host: Jennifer Acker
5 – 6:00 p.m., Saturday, January 27
Featuring Calvin Baker, Chris Bohjalian, Dan Chiasson, Edward A. Farmer, Michael Gorra, Kirun Kapur, Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne and Ismée Williams.

A Conversation with Pulitzer Prize Winner Anne Applebaum
Host: Cullen Murphy
1– 2:00 p.m., Sunday, February 28

 

LitFest 2021 Goes Virtual
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LitFest 2021: Poems by Tommye Blount and Natalie Diaz

LitFest Poems 2021

Amherst College’s sixth annual literary festival will take place virtually this year, from Thursday, February 25 to Sunday, February 28. Among the guests are 2020 National Book Award poetry finalists Tommye Blount and Natalie Diaz. The Commonis pleased to reprint four of their poems here.

Join Tommye Blount and Natalie Diaz in conversation with host John Hennessy (poetry editor of The Common) on Saturday, February 27 from 11am to noon.

Register and see the full list of LitFest events here.

LitFest 2021: Poems by Tommye Blount and Natalie Diaz
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The Language of the Body

By SARA ELKAMEL

Image of tents in a Bedouin-style camp at the Wadi Rum desert in southern Jordan

Tents in a Bedouin-style camp at the Wadi Rum desert in southern Jordan. Courtesy: Soraya Ghezelbash.

Wadi Rum, Jordan
for Yvonne

 

We pull the black of Rum over our eyes
like skin. God’s earth is vast, vast, vast—but by day

she wrapped her limbs around my limbs and drew
my air. I follow her into the dark, consider saying: Please,

I don’t know what you need—but all I see is red.
At the foot of the dunes I push her, soft as the sin

that tips the scale. I run away like a ghost, a demon, a silent drum
in the faultless dark. Not a quiver of light around my bones.

The Language of the Body
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Neighbors

By NICK STORY

Image of a figure down the hallway.

 
The Rectangle

When my marriage ended I moved to an apartment building that was mostly uninhabited. I never saw the other tenants. There were traces of them here and there—a sock left in a dryer, muted weeping down the hall, ambulances flashing out front—but I couldn’t have told you what any of my neighbors looked like.

There was a serious cockroach infestation in my unit. In the kitchen, the roaches chewed through boxes of crackers, fresh fruit, bags of rice. They crawled over the counters, peeked up through the sink drain, and burned in the oven. In the middle of the night, I’d spot them on the ceiling, circling the kitchen light like planets in a model solar system.

Neighbors
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Podcast: Jethro Soutar on Portuguese Translations

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Translator Jethro Soutar speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about three pieces he translated from Portuguese for Issue 20 of The Common magazine. These pieces appear in a special portfolio of writing from and about the Lusosphere—Portugal’s colonial and linguistic diaspora around the globe. In this conversation, Soutar talks about the complexities of translating poetry and prose: capturing not just the meaning of a piece but the feeling and atmosphere of it, and the culture behind the scenes. He also explains a little of the colonial and racial history of Portugal, Cape Verde, and Mozambique, and how those events echo today through the literature and language of modern Lusophone countries.

Jethro Soutar and Issue 20 cover

Podcast: Jethro Soutar on Portuguese Translations
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Writers on Writing: David Moloney

This interview is the fifth in a new series, Writers on Writing, which focuses on craft and process. The series is part of The Common’s 10th anniversary celebration.

Read Moloney’s Issue 19 story, “Counsel.”

David Moloney stands in front of a white door

David Moloney worked in the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections, New Hampshire, from 2007 to 2011. He received a BA in English and creative writing from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he now teaches. He lives north of Boston with his family.

 

 

Writers on Writing: David Moloney
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