Podcast: Amanda Mei Kim on “California Obscura”

Apple Podcasts logo

Listen on Apple Podcasts.

Spotify Logo Green

Listen on Spotify.

Transcript: Amanda Mei Kim

Amanda Mei Kim speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “California Obscura,” which appears in The Common’s most recent issue, in a portfolio of writing and art from and about the immigrant farmworker community. Amanda discusses how the essay changed and developed over many drafts. The finished piece explores her childhood growing up on her parents’ tenant farm in Saticoy, California, just north of Los Angeles. It also examines the long history of farmworker resistance and labor movements in the area, which crossed divides of race, ethnicity, and origin. 

portrait of author and issue cover

Amanda Mei Kim writes about the ways that collective power, racism, nature, and capitalism weave through the lives of rural Californians of color. Her work has appeared inLitHub, PANK, The New York Times, and Discover Nikkei. She grew up on a tenant farm in the agricultural worker community of Saticoy, California.

­­Read Amanda’s essay in The Common at thecommononline.org/california-obscura.

Learn more about Amanda and her work at amandameikim.com.

Amanda suggests that interested listeners learn more about supporting farmworkers from the below organizations:

Central Valley Empowerment Alliance: cvempowermentalliance.org

Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project: mixteco.org

Farmworker Caravan: farmworkercaravan.com

Pan Valley Institute: panvalleyinstitute.org


The Common is a print and online literary magazine publishing stories, essays, and poems that deepen our collective sense of place. On our podcast and in our pages, The Common features established and emerging writers from around the world. Read more and subscribe to the magazine at thecommononline.org, and follow us on Twitter @CommonMag.

Emily Everett is managing editor of the magazine and host of the podcast. Her debut novel is forthcoming in spring 2025 from Putnam Books. Her stories appear in the Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Tin House Online, and Mississippi Review. She was a 2022 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow in Fiction.

Podcast: Amanda Mei Kim on “California Obscura”

Related Posts

Two pink buds peek out of a tangle of bare branches, set against an overcast sky.

Losing the Daphne

JESSICA E. JOHNSON
It was neither ice nor heat. That is, not one single ice storm and not one single heat wave. The relentless strangeness of weather left the Daphne this way, budded around the edge but dead in the center. She will probably not last another hot summer.

the peninsula at county mayo

Fallmore

LAURA NAGLE
Mairéad knows what she will say if her husband asks why she has been filling their eldest daughter’s bowl to the brim with porridge at every meal while taking less than a full serving for herself. She will talk about how much she hates oats, has always hated everything about them.

the cover of kusserow

Poetry as an Ethnographic Tool: Leah Zani interviews Adrie Kusserow

ADRIE KUSSEROW in conversation with LEAH ZANI
Ironically, my other biggest challenge was the way that writing never let me off the hook, into a place of rest, where I felt like I could easily “sum up” a particular culture. I wasn’t prepared for how the act of writing itself would become a kind of archaeology.