Christopher Spaide speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his poem “Closure?,” which appears in The Common’s most recent issue. Chris talks about how his curiosity for language and wordplay often lead him into deeper themes in his poems. He also discusses taking his first poetry class at Amherst College, and, now, teaching poetry classes himself at Emory University.
Jake Lancaster speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his story “Grace’s Folly,” which appears in The Common’s most recent issue. Jake talks about writing stories that lean into the offbeat, uncomfortable, and sometimes grotesque parts of his characters and their lives. He also discusses his writing and revision process—carving away at long first drafts until all that’s left is essential—and his work teaching writing at the University of Minnesota.
Ala Fox speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “Ramadan in Saint-Denis,” which appears in The Common’s most recent issue. Ala talks about weaving together the threads of her experiences living in Paris into an essay that explores a lot of questions but doesn’t try to answer them. The piece dives into the dynamics between neighborhoods, and between native Parisians and immigrant communities, and explores the possibility of creating and sustaining love across language barriers and distance. Ala also discusses why she was nervous about publishing the essay, and how it would be received in the Muslim community.
Matt Donovan speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his prose poem “Guy with a Gun,” which appeared in The Common’s fall issue. Matt talks about the conversation that inspired the poem—an encounter with a Sandy Hook parent that highlights the complex gray area around guns and gun ownership. He also discusses how his poetry collection about the issue of guns in the US evolved from a nonfiction book proposal, his aims in undertaking the project, and his job running The Boutelle-Day Poetry Center at Smith College.
Robin Lee Carlson speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “Reading the Ashes,” which appears in The Common’s fall 2022 issue. Robin talks about the many-year process of observation, illustration, and writing that went into the essay, which explores the cycle of fire and rebirth in Cold Canyon. She also discusses how her work balances the poetic and artistic with the scientific, how sketching and watercolors help her understand the natural world, and how she hopes her book will encourage readers to observe and question ecological change in their local areas.
As soon as I read about the albatrosses in the Times, I thought of my big sister. Natasha.
“Natasha—albatross ty nasha,” Aunt Lyuba would sing in the communal kitchen, slinging blobs of wheat porridge into my bowl with the cornflower border. Each time she’d shuffle the bowl from the stove over to Natasha-and-my table, her felt slippers would catch on the peeling linoleum floor, and I’d worry about my breakfast. But Aunt Lyuba never slipped.
Jane Satterfield speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her poem “Letter to Emily Brontë,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. Jane talks about her longstanding interest in the Brontë sisters, and why this pandemic poem is directed to Emily in particular. She also discusses letter-writing as a structure for poetry, and reads another poem published in The Common, “Totem,” which reflects on a childhood memory through more adult understanding.
Podcast: Jane Satterfield on “Letter to Emily Brontë”
Liesl Schwabe speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “The Marching Bands of Mahatma Gandhi Road,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. Liesl talks about the time she spent in Kolkata, India listening to the mostly-Muslim marching bands perform at Hindu weddings and religious ceremonies, and what drew her to this subject. She also discusses the research, writing, and revision that went into this essay, her approach to teaching creative writing, and her next writing projects.
Podcast: Liesl Schwabe on “The Marching Bands of Mahatma Gandhi Road”