Muscle and Rubber and Cotton and Bone

By JULES FITZ GERALD

There is no such thing as silence in the South. There is always the percussive hum of insects, winged bodies waiting in the weeds for dusk. This sound fills the fissure before Coach Meeks fires the gun, while Joanna leans over the spray-painted line in the crabgrass field. She is sixteen but still as stick-legged and bird-chested as she was at twelve, brushing daily knots from her homeschool-length hair because her mother gave up trying to teach her how to make a braid. The billow of smoke erupts from the pistol’s nose before the crack of the blank reaches her ears. Her hair streams behind her, loose and wild, as she pushes off the line. She believes that it makes her faster.

Muscle and Rubber and Cotton and Bone
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Ho’omana’o

By EDWARD LEES

A volcano

Photos by author.

Lahaina, Maui

When I was young, my parents
took me to Pompeii.
I remember the grouped bodies in the museum
of people who had tried to shelter.

Ho’omana’o
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Violence and Its Other: Toti O’Brien Interviews Dimitris Lyacos

Dimitris Lyacos (left) sits with his knees to his chest in front of a barbed-wire fence. Toti O'Brien (right) stands with her arms crossed, chin tilted slightly upward at the camera.

DIMITRIS LYACOS describes his new book, Until the Victim Becomes our Own, as a prequel to his world-renowned trilogy, Poena Damni—which begins with a fugitive on a train, but never clarifies what, whom, and where from he has fled, hinting at the past only through the traces it left, showing us a mere geography of scars. Until the Victim Becomes our Own reels us back to the pre-fugue universe, mapping both an archeological grid and a bird’s-eye view of our very own Western civilization, founded on Judeo-Christian traditions, then evolved through industrialization and capitalism up to the digitally-global present day.

Though he was bound to Israel when TOTI O’BRIEN reached out to him with her questions, Lyacos agreed to interweave their conversation with his travels, and we are glad he did.

Violence and Its Other: Toti O’Brien Interviews Dimitris Lyacos
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Translation: to and back

By HALYNA KRUK 
Translated by LADA KOLOMIYETS

Poem appears below in English and the original Ukranian.

Translator’s note

Since February 2022, the metaphorics of Halyna Kruk’s poetry have undergone transformation on the way to nearing the genre of testimony. Kruk explains in her speech at the poetry festival in Berlin in June 2022 that metaphors have lost their power in front of what is actually experienced (Kruk, Halyna. “Krieg ist keine Metapher.” Zeit Online, June 18, 2022). The voice of the diarist of wartime has become the most important feature of literary expression. In her Berlin speech—just as in the poem to and back, written in spring 2022—Kruk warns the prosperous western world against erecting an emotional wall between Ukraine and itself. While addressing the Western audience, she tries to explain a painful feeling of irreparable loss—in our souls, in our culture, science, economy, industry, society —of men and women, someone’s parents, someone’s children, who were killed by Russia: “War creates a gap between those who have experienced it and those who are far from it; with each passing day of the war, I see that it is more and more difficult to explain to people from the outside what we feel here, on the inside. … Poetry acquires very peculiar forms—a spontaneous prayer, a stingy testimony, a lament or even a curse to the enemy. These are not the forms of poetry to which modern European culture is accustomed, they are functional and ritualistic, too primeval in their emotional coloring, too subjective, too pathetic, and intolerant” (Kruk, “Krieg ist keine Metapher”; my translation).

In her poem to and back Kruk writes about the unfitting of war in the eyes of Western world, even if the words for war may be found by survivors and those who have experienced it. Incompatibility of war and peace, of poetry and war calls for the memory to work in place of creativity. The healing power of poetry—as a witness of war crimes in Ukraine—is encoded in Kruk’s poems, written in the spring and summer of 2022.

—Lada Kolomiyets

Translation: to and back
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The Common Announces 2024 Amazon Literary Partnership Grant

Amazon Literary Partnership Logo

The Common is pleased to announce the receipt of its sixth award from the Amazon Literary Partnership’s Literary Magazine Fund.

“We are honored to receive the Amazon Literary Partnership’s continued support,” said Jennifer Acker, The Common editor in chief. “This grant enables us to show how much we value our authors—by paying them a competitive rate and engaging them through and beyond the publication process.”

The Common plans to use this $5,000 grant to continue highlighting the voices of vibrant literary communities underrepresented in the publishing world. Past funding from the Amazon Literary Partnership most recently supported a portfolio of farmworker writing (Issue 26), co-edited with Lambda Literary Fellow Miguel M. Morales. This new grant will provide direct payments to a diverse group of writers and help them find a global readership via The Common’s integrated print and online publishing platforms.

The Common Announces 2024 Amazon Literary Partnership Grant
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June 2024 Poetry Feature: New Poems by Our Contributors

New poems by our contributors DAN ALBERGOTTI, KATE GASKIN, IQRA KHAN, and CARSON WOLFE 

Table of Contents: 

  • Dan Albergotti, “The Dumb Show” 
  • Kate Gaskin, “Newest Baby” 
  • Iqra Khan, “I Seek Refuge” 
  • Carson Wolfe, “Jack Kerouac Begs Me to Get an Abortion” 

 

The Dumb Show 
By Dan Albergotti 

They showed you the models. They warned you well
in advance. Levels and gasses and ice melt and us.
Storms and floods and fires and famine and us.
And now it’s here. And now you act surprised.

When I was studying Hamlet in college,
I wondered how Claudius could be so taken aback 
by the inner play’s events when the silent pantomime 
of the dumb show had already given away the plot.

My professor explained that the royals
would usually ignore the dumb show, would shield
their eyes, thinking such explanatory preamble
to the play itself was far beneath their station.

The dumb show was for the average folk, he said.
In the end, both Rosencrantz and Claudius are dead.

June 2024 Poetry Feature: New Poems by Our Contributors
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Friday Reads: June 2024

Yesterday, June 20th, marked the official first day of summer! Though the longest day of 2024 has come and gone, the season still promises a plethora of long afternoons and lazy nights. Many of us at The Common cherish this time as an opportunity to comb through our bookshelves and catch up on our neglected To Be Read lists. In this edition of Friday Reads, our editors and contributors share what they’re reading this summer, with recommendations in an array of genres and topics fit for the park, a road trip, a cool refuge from the heat, or whatever other adventures the season may have in store. Keep reading to hear from John Hennessy, Emily Everett, and Matthew Lippman

Friday Reads: June 2024
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Weekly Writes 2024: Committin’ to Get It Written!

Need some motivation? We’ve got you covered! Weekly Writes is a ten-week program designed to help you create your own place-based writing, beginning July 29.

We’re offering both poetry AND prose, in two separate programs. Whether you’re the next Dickinson or Dostoevsky, pick your program, sharpen your pencils, and get ready for a weekly dose of writing inspiration (and accountability) in your inbox!

 A graphic advertisement for Weekly Writes, saying "Sign up for Inspiration and Instruction to Meet Your Writing Goals!" 

Weekly Writes 2024: Committin’ to Get It Written!
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Museum Ice (Extended Dance Mix)

By AMALIA GLADHART

Anna was slow to do the math. B saw it instantly—what might be left after everything else melted away. White captions flickered in the dim exhibit hall. 

B had turned thirteen that fall, ready to join Anna on a trip that was part research, part treat and adventure, the first time they had left the country together, alone. A few days in Rosario (a university lecture, an interview with a playwright), the long bus to Buenos Aires. Invited to contribute to the itinerary, B asked to see glaciers; Anna booked a half-day trek across the ice. 

Passengers all around them had clapped when they landed in El Calafate. “That’s so sweet,” B said, joining in. Anna clapped, too, hoping it was thanks, not bald relief. The tiny airport was rapidly navigated. Advertisements lined the baggage claim, placed to catch a teenager’s eye. “They have an ice bar at the ice museum,” B said. “Can we go? There’s a free shuttle from the tourist office.”

Museum Ice (Extended Dance Mix)
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Para-

 
Image of a wooded mountain range with gray clouds in the sky and green grass below.

Photo courtesy of author.

Cherokee, NC and Phoenix, AZ

 

As a child, I watched horror movie after horror movie. An attempt to make myself brave or to make others think I was. And now, I fear I’m manipulative because how much can a person really change. Bones and weight and cartilage can only be altered to certain degrees.

When it comes to film, body horror disturbs me the most. Things that happen to a person’s body without their permission. And sometimes they don’t notice until their bodies are so acted upon that they are grotesque, twisted, so completely othered with pain they are no longer sovereign, but colonized by something outside of themselves.

Para-
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