All posts tagged: Sara Elkamel

2021 Festival of Debut Authors

On March 25th at 7:00pm, in honor of ten years of publishing and cultivating new voices, please join The Common‘s special events team for an evening devoted to emerging talents! Celebrate with poets and prose writers Ama Codjoe, Sara Elkamel, LaToya Faulk, Ben Shattuck, Angela Qian, and Ghassan Zeineddine. This event will take place virtually via Zoom.

This inaugural festival features readings and conversation, and aims to to raise scholarship funds for the magazine’s Young Writers Program. All contributions will be matched by the Whiting Foundation.

Register for the event, hosted by Tess Taylor, Katherine Vaz, and JinJin Xu, here

REGISTER

 

Ama codjoe Ama Codjoe is the author of Blood of the Air (Northwestern University Press, 2020), winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize, and Bluest Nude forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in 2022.She has been awarded support from Cave Canem, Jerome, Robert Rauschenberg, and Saltonstall foundations as well as from Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, Crosstown Arts, Hedgebrook, and MacDowell. Her recent poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry, Prairie Schooner, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. Among other honors, Codjoe has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council/New York Foundation of the Arts, and the Bronx Council on the Arts. Read her Issue 18 poem, “Burying Seeds,” here

 

 

Sara elkamelSara Elkamel is a poet and journalist living between her hometown, Cairo, and New York City. She holds an MA in arts journalism from Columbia University and is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at New York University. Elkamel’s poems have appeared in The Common, Michigan Quarterly Review, Four Way Review, The Boiler, Memorious, wildness, Nimrod International Journal, and as part of the anthologies Best New Poets 2020, Halal If You Hear Me and 20.35 Africa, among other publications. Elkamel was named a 2020 Gregory Djanikian Scholar by The Adroit Journal, and a finalist in Narrative Magazine‘s 30 Below Contest. Read her Issue 19 poem, “The Way Cacti Quiver,” here.

 

 

Latoya faulk

LaToya Faulk has a BA in English Literature and a MA in Rhetoric and Writing from Michigan State University. She is a third-year MFA student at the University of Mississippi. Her work has been published in Scalawag, Amherst College’s The Common, and Splinter Magazine‘s Think Local series. She currently lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with her two children. Read her Issue 20 essay, “In Search of a Homeplace,” here

 

 

 

Ben shattuckBen Shattuck (b. 1984) is a graduate and former Teaching-Writing Fellow of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He is the director of the Cuttyhunk Island Writers’ Residency and the curator of the Dedee Shattuck Gallery. He is the recipient of a PEN America Best Debut Short Story Award and a Pushcart Prize. His writing can be found in the Harvard Review, The Common, the Paris Review Daily, Lit Hub, Kinfolk Magazine, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and other publications. His essay collection—following Henry David Thoreau’s walks throughout New England—will be published by Tin House in May 2022. He lives on the coast of Massachusetts, where he owns and runs a general store built in 1793. Read his Pushcart Prize-winning Issue 16 story, “The History of Sound,” here

 

 

Angela Qian is a cross-genre writer whose work has appeared in Pleiades, Witness, The Common, Gay, Wax Nine, Asymptote and other outlets. She has received honors from the Norman Mailer Foundation and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. She received her MFA in fiction at NYU and was a co-curator of The Sweet & Sour Readings. Currently, she is at work on a short story collection about digital intimacy, double eyelid surgery, and dating sims, as well as a novel.Find her website at angelaqian.com. Read her Issue 17 story, “Wild Oranges,” here

 

 


Ghassan ZeineddineGhassan Zeineddine
is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where he teaches Arab American literature and creative writing. His fiction has appeared and/or is forthcoming in The Georgia Review, Witness, Pleiades, Fiction International, The Common, Epiphany, and the Iron Horse Literary Review, among other places. He is currently co-editing the creative nonfiction anthology Voices of Arab Detroit (Wayne State University Press, 2021). He lives with his wife and daughter in Dearborn. Read his Issue 17 story, “The Reincarnates,” here.

 

2021 Festival of Debut Authors
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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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The Way Cacti Quiver

By SARA ELKAMEL

 

I am beginning to think about the middle,
and how we should behave in it.

When I say you held me closer than clouds hold birds
you tell me it was coincidence we slept at all.

Of course I want it to stop. I dream every night of a man
with the head of a man and the body of a scary sea creature. 

I dream the man is lost so I carry him home. Of course
I mistake water for home and home for water but at least, I try. 

The Way Cacti Quiver
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August 2019 Poetry Feature

New poems by Nathan McClain, Sara Elkamel, and Brian Simoneau

NATHAN MCCLAIN | The Flowers

| At the Park, a Boy’s Birthday

SARA ELKAMEL | Instructions for getting around a desert

BRIAN SIMONEAU |  Each morning I get up I die a little

 

NATHAN MCCLAIN

The flowers

in the greenhouse
now flowers

in the supermarket
rubber-bound

clipped
from wherever

they seemed almost
to nod

their agreement with what
the breeze once said

now flowers
in some glass vase

on the dining room table
where no one eats

What race they are
doesn’t matter nor if

their stems are thorny
you see

They’re just flowers
They die

You walk by
them all the time

hardly thinking
twice about their names

 

At the Park, a Boy’s Birthday Party  

No surprises here, really.
Not the plastic,

white cutlery
or the fancy glass bowl,

cubes of pineapple
and Bosc pear

floating in punch
(naturally red)

that no one
(thank the Lord)

has thought yet to spike.
Each boy, blindfolded,

spun in place, and shoved
down the piñata’s path

with a bat
he can barely lift,

the piñata star-shaped,
tasseled pink at its ends,

seems accurate.
At this age,

their limbs
inarticulate as the smoke

of catfish or pork ribs
that hiss on the park grill.

They hardly notice
the sun’s descent.

            It’s getting late, I think
to say as someone’s father

knots the blindfold
over my eyes. Fits the bat

into my hands. In my ear,
the boys shriek, and there—

the star,
snagged in the oak

of my mind, the rope,
swaying

almost gently. How,
even dizzied,

do I step towards it?

 

SARA ELKAMEL

Instructions for getting around a desert  

The bride is seeing ghosts today.
She stands expertly with unease

as subtle as a sweet surprise
dissolved under a cloud.

There is nothing around
to quiver. Just our unkindness

pouring out our hands
like sand.

When they describe sugar
they say it looks

like salt. Feels the same when
bitten. For its gentleness,

ideal as a cure for dryness,
acidity, soreness, even weak

eyesight. But when she sees
the same dream twice, the bride

self-medicates: dissolves elsewhere
in gentle hot earth. Fills

her palms with salt, but
are these the kinds of gifts

you give at the end?
How red is a red infinity

if you give it your back,
your head like a rosefinch

caught in the horizon.
How infinite?

 

BRIAN SIMONEAU

Each morning I get up I die a little 

A truck rumbles the day to life, lifts with robotic arm our bin
and sets it softly down. We are living in the future

and the future brought pain to ankles, to knees, my temples
rendered gray. So today I don a fraying t-shirt, silk-screened
logo faded the way our favorite mix-tape songs now slip

from digital lives. What’s come won’t come undone, summer
hungover, and the slang we sang unstrung, each year a little

harder to believe. I walk the girls to school over squares
of cement cracked by frost and passing to nowhere, corners
with no corner stores, even gas stations an indecent drive

away, past bedroom after bedroom, two-car garages hiding
if people are home or not. Kids on the street wait for the day

to begin with vinyl seats and backpacks on laps, their task
what it is for us all: remake themselves to the minute at hand.
Unshaven, unshowered, a baseball cap tugged into place,

I flip-flop down the block, stop to watch a helicopter
overhead. I will hop and skip. I will not step on a crack.

 

Nathan McClain is the author of Scale(Four Way Books, 2017), the recipient of fellowships from Sewanee Writers’ Conference, The Frost Place, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and a graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers. His poems and prose have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Poem-a-Day, The Baffler, West Branch Wired, upstreet, and Foundry. He teaches at Hampshire College.

Sara Elkamel is a journalist and poet, living between Cairo and New York City. She holds an M.A. in arts and culture journalism from Columbia University. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Guernica, The Common, Winter Tangerine, American Chordata and elsewhere.

Brian Simoneau is the author of the poetry collection River Bound (C&R Press, 2014). His poems have appeared in Boston Review, Cincinnati Review, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, The Georgia Review, Mid-American Review, Southern Indiana Review, Third Coast, and other journals. Originally from Lowell, Massachusetts, he lives near Boston with his family.

August 2019 Poetry Feature
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Friday Reads: April 2018

Curated by: SARAH WHELAN

We can’t believe that we’re on the brink of publishing our FIFTEENTH Issue! If you couldn’t make it to our Launch Party, you can still mingle with our Issue 15 contributors in this month’s Friday Reads. When you’re done reading, be sure to purchase your copy of Issue 15 here!

Recommendations: The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, In Full Velvet by Jenny Johnson, Plainwater: Essays and Poetry by Anne Carson,  The Pilgrim Hawk by Glenway Wescott

Friday Reads: April 2018
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