All posts tagged: Issue 22

Apology to My Daughter

By TOM SLEIGH

“Life is not a walk across a field…”—Pasternak

For ten years, Hannah, the world convinced me
that thorn trees, desert, Land Rovers tricked out
with CB radios, machine guns and armor plate,

grew more real the harder it became
to fulfill my nightly promise to rebar and rubble
that some final vowel would reverse time

Apology to My Daughter
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Notes on Looking Back

By STEVEN TAGLE

 

Last year, I wandered through Greece, knocking on all the gates of Hades. I walked along the Acheron River, whose icy blue waters seemed colored by the spirits of the dead. Stalactites dripped onto the back of my neck as a silent boatman ferried me through the caves of Diros. I searched for the entrance to the sea cave at Cape Tainaron, scrambling over sharp rocks below the lighthouse as darkness fell. Sometimes I wondered if my search for the underworld tempted the Fates. I remembered Orpheus, the father of music, who charmed beasts with his lyre and descended into Tainaron to find his lost bride, Eurydice. With song, he implored Hades and Persephone to bring her back to life, and his words moved the deathless gods to tears. They granted his wish, allowing him to lead her out of the underworld on one condition: he must walk ahead of her, not looking back until they left the dark halls of death. Approaching the surface, the farthest reach of light, Orpheus feared his love’s silence behind him. He turned to look and saw her sink back into the depths, reaching out to him and bidding him farewell for the last time.

Notes on Looking Back
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The Streets These Days

By J. KATES 

 

The life-size and realistic bronze has stood on its parklet street corner for so long that no one remembers whom it represented or what it memorializes. The sculptor had done a good job. It looks pleased with itself, proud of its accomplishments in life.
 
Someone’s hat, an ordinary tweed cap, green and brown, not even worth describing, has fallen off, blown away, and come to rest upside down on the pavement underneath the bronze. Slowly the cap is filling up with coins and bills from passers-by. Clearly, they think this is not public art, but a street-artist slathered in metallic paint from head to foot, holding a pose. And the cap must be his.

A man has stopped to look. He is underdressed for the weather and disturbingly unkempt, talking out loud with nobody to listen. In the old days, we would have taken him to be schizophrenic. Nowadays, surely he must be wearing earbuds and conversing with his girlfriend. We do not give him a second glance. He continues exchanging messages with his teeth. 

The bronze figure looks pleased with itself.

We drop a quarter in the cap.

The Streets These Days
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Opulence

By RICHIE HOFMANN 

 

The night river calms me with its slow dirty movements.
I walk home briskly, in a black baseball cap.
I work at the fringes of the day. I write poetry in bed
and criticism in the bath.
Among my friends here, I have a man
who calls me love names
in four languages. Once, in a moment, I thought I wanted to die
of his pleasure, but that was a wound
speaking. The history of this place
abounds with wounds.
Mobs of vandals have ransacked the villas.
A very rich man on his deathbed
from a corrupt family who loves the arts
was fed a medicine of powdered pearls.

Opulence
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Writing from the Arabian Gulf: The Common’s Issue 22 Launch

On November 3rd at 4:30pm EDT, join The Common for the virtual launch of Issue 22! Contributors Mona Kareem, Keija Parssinen, Tariq al Haydar, and Deepak Unnikrishnan will join us from all around the world to read their pieces from our Arabian Gulf portfolio, followed by a conversation about place and culture, hosted by the magazine’s editor in chief Jennifer Acker and portfolio co-editor Noor Naga. This event is co-hosted by Amherst College’s Center for Humanistic Inquiry and sponsored by the Arts at Amherst Initiative.

REGISTER

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email via Amherst College, containing information about joining the event. If you’d like to preorder Issue 22, you may do so here.

Image of issue 22 seashell on a blue background, announcing the details of the event.

Mona Kareem is the author of three poetry collections. She is a recipient of a 2021 NEA literary grant and a fellow at the Center for the Humanities at Tufts University. Her work appears in The Brooklyn Rail, Michigan Quarterly Review, Fence, Ambit, Poetry London, Los Angeles Review of Books, Asymptote, Words Without Borders, Poetry International, PEN America, Modern Poetry in Translation, Two Lines, and Specimen. She has held fellowships with Princeton University, Poetry International, the Arab American National Museum, the Norwich Center for Writing, and Forum Transregionale Studien. Her translations include Ashraf Fayadh’s Instructions Within and Ra’ad Abdulqadir’s Except for This Unseen Thread.

Keija Parssinen is the author of the novels The Ruins of Us, which received the Michener-Copernicus Award, and The Unraveling of Mercy Louis, which earned an Alex Award from the American Library Association. She is currently an assistant professor of English and creative writing at Kenyon College.

Tariq al Haydar‘s work has appeared in The Threepenny Review, North American Review, DIAGRAM, Beyond Memory: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Creative Nonfiction, and other publications. His nonfiction was named as notable in The Best American Essays 2016.

Deepak Unnikrishnan is a writer from Abu Dhabi. His book Temporary People, a work of fiction about Gulf narratives steeped in Malayalee and South Asian lingo, won the inaugural Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, the Hindu Prize, and the Moore Prize.

Writing from the Arabian Gulf: The Common’s Issue 22 Launch
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