Amherst’s annual literary festival celebrates the College’s extraordinary literary life by inviting distinguished authors and editors to share and discuss the pleasures and challenges of verbal expression—from fiction and nonfiction to poetry and spoken-word performance. This year’s LitFest was held virtually, with authors, poets, and literature lovers joining from all around the world.
The Common’s Editor in Chief Jennifer Acker hosted two readings at LitFest: one with The Common’s student interns, and one with Amherst College alumni authors. Both events were recorded and can be watched below. Watch video recordings of all the events, readings, and discussions at LitFest ’21 here.
LitFest ’21 Readings by The Common’s Literary Publishing Interns
Student interns at The Common read short excerpts from their writing. Readers are:
Isabel Meyers ’20 (former intern, current Literary Editorial Fellow)
Elly Hong ’21 (Thomas E. Wood ’61 Fellow)
Whitney Bruno ’21
Sofia Belimova ’22
Eliza Brewer ’22
Olive Amdur ’23
LitFest ’21 Amherst College Alumni Authors Reading
Amherst College alumni read short excerpts from their recent work, and answer questions. Readers are:
Calvin Baker ’94
Chris Bohjalian ’82
Dan Chiasson ’93
Edward A. Farmer ’05
Michael Gorra ’79
Kirun Kapur ’97
Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne ’01
Ismée Williams ’95
Amherst College’s sixth annual literary festival will take place virtually this year, from Thursday, February 25 to Sunday, February 28. Among the guests are 2020 National Book Award fiction winner Charles Yu and longlist nominee Megha Majumdar. The Common is pleased to reprint a short excerpt from Yu’s novel Interior Chinatown here.
Join Megha Majumdar and Charles Yu in conversation with host Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint (visiting writer at Amherst College) on Friday, February 26 from 7 to 8pm.
Amherst College’s sixth annual literary festival will take place virtually this year, from Thursday, February 25 to Sunday, February 28. Among the guests are 2020 National Book Award fiction winner Charles Yu and longlist nominee Megha Majumdar. The Common is pleased to reprint a short excerpt from Majumdar’s novel A Burninghere.
We hope you’ll join us for the sixth annual LitFest, hosted in conjunction with Amherst College. This year’s festival features 2020 National Book Award for Fiction winner Charles Yu and finalist Megha Majumdar, National Book Award for Poetry finalists Natalie Diaz and Tommye Blount, and Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Applebaum, among others.
This year, to celebrate Amherst College’s Bicentennial, we’ll have a very special set of readings by The Common‘s very own Literary Publishing Interns at 4:30 pm on Saturday. Join us for this packed weekend!
Amherst College’s sixth annual literary festival will take place virtually this year, from Thursday, February 25 to Sunday, February 28. Among the guests are 2020 National Book Award poetry finalists Tommye Blount and Natalie Diaz. The Commonis pleased to reprint four of their poems here.
Join Tommye Blount and Natalie Diaz in conversation with host John Hennessy (poetry editor of The Common) on Saturday, February 27 from 11am to noon.
My father was killed on a spring night four years ago, while I sat in the corner booth of a new bistro in Oakland. Whenever I think about that moment, these two contradictory images come to me: my father struggling for breath on the cracked asphalt, and me drinking champagne with my roommate, Margo. We were celebrating because Margo had received a grant from the Jerome Foundation to work on a new chamber piece, her second big commission that year. We’d ordered steamed mussels and shared an entrée and lingered late into the night. The waiter was trying to convince us to get the chocolate mousse for dessert when my phone rang.
It’s been obvious from the beginning who are Broadway Babies and who aren’t. Those who truly can sing, who can give them the old razzle-dazzle, who live for that one singular sensation, have for the most part drawn attention to themselves from the first day of school. They cluster around the Black Box piano during rainy-day lunchtimes and sing The Fantasticks. They wear the Cats sweatshirts to school that they got on their holiday trip to New York. Some of them, like the Junior named Chad, are enviably serious musicians who can not only sing but play Sondheim, for real, from sheet music. Some of them, like Erin O’Leary, don’t just sing but dance like Ginger Rogers, having apparently put on tap shoes at the same time as they took their first steps.
Sometimes I think I understand everything else more than I’ll ever understand Leonie. She’s at the front door, paper grocery bags obscuring her, hitching the screen and kicking it open, and then edging through the door. Kayla scoots toward me when the door bangs shut; she snatches up her juice cup and sucks before kneading my ear. The little pinch and roll of her fingers almost hurts, but it’s her habit, so I swing her up in my arms and let her knead. Mam says she does it for comfort because she never breast-fed. PoorKayla, Mam sighed every time. Leonie hated when Mam and Pop began calling her Kayla like me. She has a name, Leonie said, and it’s her daddy’s. She look like a Kayla, Mam said, but Leonie never called her that.
Mark your calendars! For the fifth year, The Common is preparing for LitFest, a weekend of events to recognize and celebrate contemporary literature. In conjunction with the National Book Awards and Amherst College, The Common will celebrate extraordinary voices such as Jesmyn Ward, Susan Choi, Laila Lalami, and Ben Rhodes.
LitFest will be held on the campus of Amherst College from February 27th through March 1st. For more details, visit the LitFest website. But first, read on for recommendations from the participating authors.
Recommendations: Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward; Trust Exercise by Susan Choi; Battle Dress by Karen Skolfield, and The World as It Is by Ben Rhodes.