Nariman Youssef speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her work translating three short stories from Arabic for The Common’s portfolio of fiction from Morocco, in thespring issue. In this conversation, Nariman talks about the conscious and unconscious decisions a translator makes through many drafts, including the choice to preserve some features of the language, sound, and cadence that may not sound very familiar to English readers. She also discusses her thoughts on how the translation world has changed over the years, and her exciting work as Arabic Translation Manager at the British Library.
Podcast: Nariman Youssef on Arabic Translations from Morocco
Ricardo Wilson speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his poem, “nigrescence,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Ricardo talks about his new collection Apparent Horizon and Other Stories, winner of the PANK Book Contest in fiction. The collection includes several short poetic fragments scattered amongst stories and novellas, with both historic and contemporary storylines. He discusses his process for writing from historical research, and what it’s like writing creative and critical work at the same time. Ricardo also talks about Outpost, a fully-funded residency in Vermont for creative writers of color from the US and Latin America.
Celeste Mohammed speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her story “Home,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Celeste talks about her novel-in-stories, Pleasantview, and why it was important to her to write a book that shows all the complexities and difficulties of island life, with characters who break out of the stereotypical West Indian personality Americans often expect. She also discusses Trinidad’s multicultural society, her choice to write dialogue in patois, and her essay “Split Me in Two,” about being mixed-race during the election of Vice President Kamala Harris.
Emma Sloley speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her story “The Cassandras,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Sloley talks about writing a story based on the fear of men women are taught to have from a young age. She also discusses her decision to include a sort of Greek chorus in the story, apocalyptic isolation in her novel Disaster’s Children, and how travel writing has changed in the age of Instagram.
Talia Lakshmi Kolluri speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her story “The Good Donkey,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Kolluri talks about writing fiction from the perspectives of different animals, and where the inspiration for those stories comes from. She also discusses how being mixed race can complicate conversations about race and identity in the U.S., how books and literature are making space for those conversations, and how she balances writing with a full-time job as an attorney.
Podcast: Talia Lakshmi Kolluri on “The Good Donkey”
Ravi Shankar speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his essay “The Five-Room Box,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Shankar talks about constructing this essay on identity, family, and fitting in from an excerpt of his memoir, Correctional, about his time spent in prison. He also discusses how that time changed the course of his academic work, what it’s like to transition from poet to prose-writer, and the privilege and profiling Asian-Americans experience as the ‘model minority.’
Wyatt Townley speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her poem “Instructions for the Endgame,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. In this conversation, Townley talks about experiencing poetry in all parts of her life—in dance and yoga, in astronomy and physics, and in nature. She also discusses her time as Poet Laureate of Kansas, the pleasure of revising poems, and what it’s like seeing her work performed as an opera.
Podcast: Wyatt Townley on “Instructions for the Endgame”
Morocco has long been associated in the Arab imagination with magic and superstition, casting off mystical curses and exorcising jinn from the body. The word “al-Moghrabi” (“the Moroccan”) has itself become yet another qualification claimed by those who work in this parallel world, adding it to their names, some going so far as to christen themselves “Sheikh from Morocco.” These are the men one hears about from time to time, those who help ancient treasure-seekers get their hands on spell-protected troves, perhaps of the sort guarded by serpents.
An Orient Free of Orientalism: Magic, the square, and women in Moroccan short fiction
“[T]he existence, or non-existence, of a road is a non-copyrightable fact.” —Alexandria Drafting Co. v. Amsterdam (1997)
Twitch of the cartographer’s hand and a street is born, macadam free, a tree-lined absence, paved with nothing but a name. No sidewalks, no chalk, no children’s voices, a fence unlinked from its chains, the cars unmoored, corn left to its rubble, some wandering mailman, a house unbuilt, the bricks unlayed, the mortar unmixed; of the things that hold more things together the cementitious crumbles on this street, the lime breaks from the shale, the shells from their marl and clay. On trap streets the rules of gravity bend, curve to the mountain or fight it, dog leg the impossible angle, ribbon the gulley, shimmer from heat, unspool. Cliff walk, some miracle mile meant only for goats, a meander of cloven hooves, a stitching of strip mines, red earth or white, ground that, once spotted, we call disturbed.