It is 3:46 A.M. July, 2019. This cockroach is a creature of habit, something that crawls out from the cracks right after the lights are out. Nobody sees it till it is right there, suddenly there, on that exact same spot every night. It has a look on it that tells you it is old, that it’s been waiting there for ages, waiting for something inevitable that never comes, always deferred. Its antennae, moving in a slow rhythm, sweep the air above its head.
Noor Naga speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about co-editing The Common’s first-of-its-kind portfolio of writing from the Arabian Gulf, which appeared in Issue 22. Noor penned an introduction to the portfolio, titled “Who Writes the Arabian Gulf?”, which explores her experience growing up in the Gulf with no real contemporary literature written for, by, or about that diverse population. Noor discusses her idea to create the portfolio, what she enjoyed about assembling it from submissions, and what themes unite the pieces that became part of it. She also talks about her forthcoming novel from Graywolf Press, and why an earlier novel didn’t find a home in publishing.
Podcast: Noor Naga on “Who Writes the Arabian Gulf?”
My neighborhood is called Afrikanisches Viertel, and my flat is on Guinea Street. There’s Kongostraße, Togostraße, Kamerunerstraße, Transvaalstraße, Sansibarstraße, Otawistraße—I could go on, but you could also just Google Germany’s colonial conquest of Africa.
The Common literary journal will receive its sixth grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2022. The Art Works grant of $10,000 will be awarded to The Common to help publish and promote place-based stories, essays, and poems by new and underrepresented writers from the US and abroad.
The Common to Receive $10,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts
Give your writing a boost this spring. Join The Common for a series of craft classes with these literary luminaries.
Bruna Dantas Lobato: No Two Snowflakes Are Alike: How to Translate Style[register]
Karen Shepard on Fiction: The Children’s Hour [register]
Willie Perdomo on Poetry: The City and the Poet, the Street and the Poem[register]
Suketu Mehta on Nonfiction: Writing the City[register]
Each class includes a craft talk and Q&A with the guest author, generative exercises and discussion, and a take-home list of readings and writing prompts. Recordings will be available after the fact for participants who cannot attend the live event.
Each class is $125, or $85 for current subscribers or current and past Weekly Writes participants.
When Elvira Hernández began publishing poetry in the 1980s, the few pictures that appeared of her in literary supplements never revealed her entire face. A hand, an arm, a post, a leaf, a slightly out-of-focus photograph would interrupt the frame to conceal her identity. Whereas some of Chile’s most renowned poets—Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, Pablo de Rokha—chose unique pseudonyms difficult to forget, Hernández, whose birth name is María Teresa Adriasola, adopted a pen name that could easily get lost among the crowd. Far from an artistic pose or esoteric performance to gain attention, Hernández’s decision to remain unrecognizable speaks of the very real political persecution that swept through Chile and the Southern Cone during the 1970s and 80s. To write or make art in the asphyxiating environment of Pinochet’s 17-year dictatorship, in the midst of disappearances and exile, media complicity and a cultural blackout, implied an act of resistance, a conscious decision, despite the risks involved, to create dangerously, as Albert Camus and, later, Edwidge Danticat would say.
Sign up for Weekly Writes Vol. 6 is now closed. Please add your email here to hear when our next Weekly Writes program opens!
Vol. 6 Accountable You Questions
Q: What makes this program different than past Weekly Writes volumes?
A: Weekly Writes Accountable You includes an additional focus on committing to a regular writing practice. After joining the Google Classroom, you’ll be asked to upload one page a week to show that you’ve worked on a prompt. This is not a submission to the magazine, and these assignments will not be read or receive any feedback. To recognize your hard work and commitment, you will receive a short note of encouragement after uploading your piece!
Q: Do I send in my weekly writing for you to read? Will I get editorial feedback on my weekly writing?
A: You will be asked to upload one page a week to Google Classroom to show that you’ve worked on at least one prompt. This is not a submission to the magazine, and these assignments will not be read or receive any feedback.
Q: I already did Weekly Writes Vol. 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. Is this the same thing?
A: Prompts and advice for Vol. 6 are all brand new!