Courtney Kersten’s work been featured in Brevity, The Normal School, River Teeth, Hotel Amerika, DIAGRAM, The Sonora Review, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. In 2018, the University of Wisconsin Press published her debut memoir, Daughter in Retrograde.
Thaïs Miller met with Kersten on the campus of the University of California at Santa Cruz, where they are both pursuing PhDs in Literature with a Creative/Critical Writing Concentration. Astrology plays a large role in Kersten’s memoir, so they decided to conduct the interview after a tarot card reading.
Intuitive Nonfiction: An Interview with Courtney Kersten
Rita Bullwinkel is the author of the story collection Belly Up (A Strange Object). Her writing has been published in Tin House, Conjunctions, BOMB, Vice, NOON, and Guernica. She is a recipient of grants and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Brown University, Vanderbilt University, Hawthornden Castle, and The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. She is an Editor at Large for McSweeney’s, and lives in San Francisco.
Several years ago, when Rita Bullwinkel left New York City for the West Coast, Hilary Leichter went to her bon voyage party, for which Bullwinkel had purchased and reheated 100 pork buns. They did not have any pork buns on hand for this interview, but talked quite a bit over email about what fills their bellies, both literally and literarily.
Discrete Brain Containers: An Interview with Rita Bullwinkel
Poet Willie Perdomo at his home in Exeter, NH Daffys and Paperwhites
Willie Perdomo is a Puerto Rican poet and storyteller. He is the author of The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon (a 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist), Smoking Lovely (winner of the 2004 PEN Open Book Award), and Where a Nickel Costs a Dime (a Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award Finalist). Perdomo is currently an English instructor at Phillips Exeter Academy. His latest collection, The Crazy Bunch, is forthcoming in 2019, and his poems Breaking Night,They Won’t Find Us in Books, and We Used to Call it Puerto Rican Rain are published in Issue No.16 of The Common.
Via email, Lisa M. Martinez recently spoke to Perdomo about what it’s like to write about his former home, New York City, where much of his inspiration still lies. Perdomo discusses his relationship with that city, communication with ghosts, and the power memory has to transport us to a “gone place.”
Rule-Breaking is a Conscious Decision: an Interview with Willie Perdomo
Crystal Hana Kim’s If You Leave Me is a poignant, lucidly written intergenerational story that will leave you aching. The novel takes a clear-eyed look at the ways adults can end up with the lives we didn’t think we would have—how we deal with the mismatch between dream and reality determines our fate.
Books Can Help Us Feel Seen: an interview with Crystal Hana Kim
Chandrahas Choudhury is a novelist and columnist based in New Delhi. His first novel Arzee the Dwarf was shortlisted for the Commonwealth First Book Prize and chosen by World Literature Today as one of “60 Essential English-Language Works of Modern Indian Literature.” Choudhury is also the editor of India: A Traveler’s Literary Companion.
Released by Simon & Schuster this year, Clouds is Choudhury’s second novel. While fictional, the book weaves in topical themes of religion, democracy, and politics in India.
Via email, Neha Kirpal recently spoke with Choudhury about the people and places that influenced Clouds’ narrative and characters, his obsession with clouds, and a recent mango trail he undertook across the subcontinent.
Above the Clouds: An Interview with Chandrahas Choudhury
Iris Martin Cohen’s debut novel is a witty, incisive, and very funny send up of New York City literary circles and the ambition that drives them. The Common’s Interviews Editor Melody Nixon spoke with Cohen this month about The Little Clan, New York high society, contemporary American male writers and their pitfalls, the female socialite ideal, and, you know, what to do about patriarchal capitalism.
Salons, New York City, and the Litriarchy: an interview with Iris Martin Cohen
Carmen Maria Machado’s debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award, the Kirkus Prize, and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, and the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize and the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded numerous fellowships and residencies from organizations that include the Michener-Copernicus Foundation, the Yaddo Corporation, Hedgebrook, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. Her memoir, House in Indiana, is forthcoming in 2019 from Graywolf Press. Carmen Maria Machado will be at Amherst College on March 1st at 7:30 for a National Book Awards on Campus Conversation, which is a part of LitFest 2018.
This summer Hilary Leichter met with Machado at her home in Philadelphia, where Machado is the Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Thing That Would Unmake You: an Interview with Carmen Maria Machado
Three words to describe the climate: early fall, harsh.
Best time to visit? Spring
The most striking physical features of the city/ town are:
A first time visitor to Nsukka will notice an environment full of hills, with houses at the valleys and at the breasts of the hills. Then he moves closer to notice a usually crowded park where the people’s central market, Ogige, is located. Not long ago, the roads were really in bad shape but things have changed now. The new state governor gave the town a serious facelift in terms of road reconstruction and it has increased access to and from the town.
Margot Kahn and Kelly McMasters have each been described as landscape writers. Kahn mapped the American West in the biography Horses that Buck and McMasters’ memoir, Welcome to Shirley, grappled with a hometown that was as dangerous as it was idyllic. In subsequent work, both writers found themselves writing and thinking about the places harder to locate on a map and much harder still to define: home. Kahn and McMasters are the editors of the recently published This Is the Place: women writing about home, featuring essays by thirty women writers who explore the complex and messy business of making, being, and leaving—or sometimes escaping—home.
The Fault Lines of Home: an Interview with Margot Kahn and Kelly McMasters
Current city or town: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
How long have you lived here: A year and nine months
Three words to describe the climate: Hot to scorching
Best time of year to visit? November through March. The temperature is in the 60s or 70s, sunbathing on the beach becomes possible and the city finally starts buzzing with outdoor dining and with arts and culture, including Art Dubai, Dubai Design Week and the Dubai International Film Festival.