All posts tagged: 2018

The Common’s 10 Most-Read Pieces of 2018

As The Common office continues to anticipate the exciting work we plan to share in 2019 both online and in our next issues, it seems like a great time to reflect on the pieces that made 2018 just as exciting for us. See what resonated with readers the most in 2018 by browsing the list below of our most-read works of the past year: they range from fiction to essays, interviews, and more! 

Whitney BrunoThe Common’s 10 Most-Read Pieces of 2018
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December 2018 Poetry Feature

New Poems by Our Contributors
 

VIRGINIA KONCHAN  |  “Historiae Mundi”

TYREE DAYE  |  “The Motorcycle Queen”

RICHIE HOFMANN  |  “Capital”

ROSBUD BEN-ONI  |  “Poet Wrestling from Zeroto the power of
 

VIRGINIA KONCHAN

Historiae Mundi 

Life on the hillside of the Euphrates:
a star in the process of exploding.
In the shadowy interstice between
language and anguish, I stand, sketching
silhouettes of the soul’s four dimensions,
while androids dream of electric sheep.
Money isn’t nothing:  nor is it substance,
life.  O wanton superlative, isn’t it ironic,
I mean iconic, I mean ionic, that the opposite
of obfuscation is transparency?  As if I could
even see five feet in front of me.  As if the x axis
and the y axis, accordant and discordant, could
ever converge.  The brain inhibits one from
engaging in dangerous activities—google it!—
but that part of the brain can be overwritten.
Sad to say, the literary industrial complex is
unstoppable, endless precincts of nightmare
populated by denizens of popular taste.
To argue otherwise is futile.  To argue
otherwise is to carve a small cave within
a cave, a space where one can breathe
despite the meaninglessness of bodies.
If I delete all images and texts of yours,
do you then cease to exist?  Voila, a boundary.
Voici, my soul, a unified design concept.
Gird your loins, guard your last red cent:
the executioner’s song is a madrigal.
The executioner’s song is all assent.
 

TYREE DAYE

The Motorcycle Queen

    for Bessie Stringfield

You said you took God with you to all 48 states.
You caroled your grief on an Indian Scout,
rodeo your Harley until the crowd forgot it was a motorcycle,
saw a stallion riding the track wall,
breaking for a field’s freedom.

You wanted a story you could tell
about surviving America on two wheels,

six years too early for The Green Book.
But I understand leaving.
I’ve been looking

to see the world.
 

RICHIE HOFMANN

Capital 

The long curtain opens and I follow.

I lose myself in the exacting rain.

It trickles down scarred blocks of stone.

The church a storage facility for arms.

Sun sears the graffiti.

Bunkers squat unmarked beneath a parking lot.

The dead wait for the next life.

In a gay sex shop: instruments of passion.

It is as if the extremity of pleasure is measured by its proximity to death.

Posters are glued over posters.

My white teeth gleam.

A man touches the rims of my ears.

The embassy’s flags are brought inside for the night.

He ties a collar around my neck like a priest’s.

The past shows itself in a brimming mirror.

Cranes seethe.

The long curtain opens and I follow.

I lose myself in the exacting rain.
 

ROSEBUD BEN-ONI  

Poet Wrestling from Zeroto the power of

It’s amazing how we won’t let each other die silently.
If there is no death {then I’d rather die}. I’d rather die.
Then. I’m in love with you. Air never sleeps. The air
dies infinite
             {-ly}         alive. & the closest we come to the bottom
                                                                     is a looking glass
 

we dream {inside}. Looking upon ourself—
vanishes. Can’t have. Reflection. Or second.
            Reflexes. Zero {of us} is dead
                        ringer. Zero is always greedier.
                                       When others try {to enter}, they don’t death. But.
                                                 {Are. Could. Never.} Only we :: constant, constantly. & un-
 

ruly. By our own numbers. Zero is hunting for patterns. To the power of. Zero. Is the air erupting
            &   dying while sleep,    a billion
                        explosions before our eye. You’re in love {with} me. & space.
                                      Will not empty. Voids are luscious & we’re looking. Hard. Like light
                                                     years of tongue. Sense thinks. Can. Will.
                                                                     Separate us. Nothing, after all.
                                                                                     Is. Our language.
 

I don’t need words,
                        even these.                          Only to slip into your apothecaries
                        that blur fine dust into bunnies. I’m in love with the bunnies.
                        Falling apart. & through. The whispering. Our eye. The screen
                        freezes. & dry heave. Zero of us seeps through. Zero receives.

 

                                                                                                                            {I’d rather love dying you}
Static. Stasis. Lost goes. A grace. Note.
                                                                                                          {As if two. Love would rather die you}
 

This kindling, wet & fecund. I don’t want. To. The power of.
This groove. The air is fleeced. Zero is swag. Zero is {swag}.
& hungers {I & you}. It’s amazing. How zero finds each other.
There was never a rabbit hole {& that’s where zero we}.
& forget. Would rather {then}. Our lung didn’t need.
Breath. Or dying. We don’t {when you sing}
 

                       Come {back} to me
                       I’d rather die
                       like the first time
                       we broke free
 

BIOS

Rosebud Ben-Oni is a recipient of the 2014 NYFA Fellowship in Poetry and a 2013 CantoMundo Fellow; her most recent collection of poems, turn around, BRXGHT XYXS, was selected as Agape Editions’ EDITORS’ CHOICE, and will be published in 2019. She was a Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan, a Horace Goldsmith Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is an Editorial Advisor for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Her work appears or is forthcoming in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, Tin House, Black Warrior Review, TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, Arts & Letters, among others; recently, her poem “Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark” was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City. She writes weekly for The Kenyon Review blog, and teaches creative writing at UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program. Find her at 7TrainLove.org

Tyree Daye is a poet from Youngsville, North Carolina. He is the winner of the 2017 APR/Honickman First Book Prize for his book River Hymns (APR, 2017). Daye is a 2017 Ruth Lilly Finalist and Cave Canem fellow and longtime member of the editorial staff at Raleigh Review. He received his MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University. Daye’s work has been published in Prairie Schooner, New York Times, and Nashville Review. Daye recently won the Amy Clampitt Residency for 2018, the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, the 2019 Palm Beach Poetry Festival Langston Hughes Fellowship and the 2019 Diana and Simon Raab Writers-In- Residence.

Richie Hofmann is the author of a collection of poems, Second Empirewinner of the Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books. He is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, and his poems appear in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and the New York Times Style Magazine. He is currently a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University.

Author of two poetry collections, Any God Will Do(Carnegie Mellon, 2020) and The End of Spectacle (Carnegie Mellon, 2018), a collection of short stories, Anatomical Gift(Noctuary Press, 2017), and three chapbooks, including  Empire of Dirt (above/ground press, 2019), Virginia Konchan’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Boston Review, and elsewhere.

Isabel MeyersDecember 2018 Poetry Feature
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Keeping Perspective: An Interview with Jeff Holmes

NAYEREH DOOSTI interviews JEFF HOLMES

 Jeff holmes

J.M. Holmes was born in Denver and raised in Rhode Island. His literary prizes include the Burnett Howe Prize for fiction at Amherst College, the Henfield Prize for literature, and a Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, The White Review, How Journal, the Missouri Review, and Gettysburg Review. His debut book How Are You Going to Save Yourself was published with Little, Brown and Sceptre books in August 2018.

DoostiKeeping Perspective: An Interview with Jeff Holmes
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A Cave for Mithra

vessels on tile

By MOJGAN GHAZIRAD

When I heard ancient Iranians worshipped Mithra in subterranean caverns, my first reaction was: why would anyone worship Mithra in total darkness? Mithra, the god of heavenly light, who goes over the earth, all her breadth over, after the setting of the sun, touches both ends of this wide, round earth, whose ends lie afar, and surveys everything that is between the earth and the heavens.[1] In Mithraic belief, the God Mithra slays a bull to move the world and enlighten it with love. Followers pray and purify their souls in order to ascend to their heavenly place of origin.

Julia PikeA Cave for Mithra
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Ask a Local: Ana Teresa Toro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

palm trees

Your name: Ana Teresa Toro

Current city or town: San Juan, Puerto Rico

How long have you lived here: With the exception of two years in Spain, I’ve lived in Puerto Rico almost my whole life. I was born and raised in the center of the island, in a small town called Aibonito.

Three words to describe the climate: 
Tropical, Hot, Lush (You are going to be hit hard by humidity the moment you walk out of the airport, but then, you will feel the caress of the sun and the wind, and maybe of the rain as well. Also, we are obsessed with air conditioning, so you could go from sweating profusely to freezing in minutes). Also, as Gabriel García Márquez’s novel Cien años de soledad portrayed, in the Caribbean we are still obsessed with ice. Months after the hurricane —when it was really a necessity and we waited 6 or 8 hours in line to buy it— this is still a thing. Ice: the ultimate great thing.

Best time of year to visit? Christmas season (In the island it lasts 50 days and the weather is amazing, but besides that the whole country experiences a feeling of constant celebration during those festive days that start just after Thanksgiving and extend until mid-January when we celebrate Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián, a popular festivity with a bit of the experience and feeling of a carnival. We also celebrate the Three Kings Day on January 6th, and share lots of “arroz con gandules”, “pasteles”, “lechón asado”, and our beloved “pitorro.” Most of it made by our mothers and grandmothers.)

Debbie WenAsk a Local: Ana Teresa Toro, San Juan, Puerto Rico
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Lost, Found, and Betrayed: A Review of Shirkers

Movie directed by SANDI TAN

Review by HANNAH GERSEN

 

In 1992, at age 19, novelist Sandi Tan wrote and starred in Shirkers, a feature-length road movie shot on the streets of Singapore. The title was inspired by Tan’s idea that in life, there were people who were neither movers nor shakers, but shirkers—those who evade responsibility and duty, escaping the confines of society. It starred Tan as S., a murderer and kidnapper on a mysterious mission to save children. One of Tan’s points of inspiration was J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. The plot didn’t matter as much as the mood, which Tan cultivated through carefully chosen locations, props, costumes, and music. Tan hired a friend to compose a soundtrack on his electric guitar, and hand-made many of her props, including a colorful board game that S. uses to plot her kidnappings. S.’s costume was a pink sailor shirt and blue knee-length shorts; she carried an old-fashioned camera on a strap, as well as a leather suitcase. “When I was eighteen,” Tan explains, “I thought you found freedom by building worlds inside your head.”

Isabel MeyersLost, Found, and Betrayed: A Review of Shirkers
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Coloso

By HUGO RÍOS CORDERO

In the same way that some structures carry time on their shoulders, we too want to observe its traces. Every place, of course, has anchors that halt time as it passes by. In Europe, the huge cathedrals are mute and impotent witnesses of history. Likewise, the old sugar mills of Puerto Rico remain to remind us of an era that, while gone, is still harbored within them. These metal monsters, abandoned to their rusty luck, become sanctuaries of memory. The mill Coloso, one of the last of the dying titans, is now only a grey silhouette lost in the green and twisted landscape of the valley.

Isabel MeyersColoso
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Psyhi mou

By ADRIANNE KALFOPOULOU

“…to feel at home nowhere, but at ease almost everywhere.”
Georges Perec

“You need to be able to receive beauty.”
Katerina Iliopoulou

I

I am on the island of Patmos for Easter. Though I haven’t come for the holiday specifically. It so happens I’m off from work because it’s Easter, arguably the most important event in the Greek holiday calendar; Christ’s birth the less celebrated event as compared to his death as necessary prelude to resurrection. Patmos, the island where St. John the Divine is said to have had his vision of the apocalypse, generally feels mournful this time of year. Not infrequently it will be a sun-splashed day anywhere else in Greece while here clouds gather in their overcast greys. I am not a believer, though I’m hard put to call myself an atheist. Perhaps agnostic, with its Greek root, is closest to describing my feeling — that is, gnōsis (knowledge), and so agnōsto (unknown) would make me a believer in the unknown.

Isabel MeyersPsyhi mou
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Poems from Puerto Rico: Mara Pastor

Poems by MARA PASTOR
Translations by MARÍA JOSÉ GIMÉNEZ

"De Puerto Rico: Un Ano Despues de la Tormenta"

 

Homage to the Navel

Navels end sometimes.
Before that happens,
the body draws a road
from the door
through which you will arrive
to the place of areolae
where you will calm your hunger.
Origin of anthill
of white light that from me
will return to you to teach us
that a navel ends
when another is
about to begin.

Whitney BrunoPoems from Puerto Rico: Mara Pastor
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