All posts tagged: March

Joss

By PATRICIA LIU 

Image of a river and houses on a hill.

Yunnan Province, China

Paper is thin. In the beginning, still billows in the wind, still petal-like, still grounded in this world 

of living. The incense is the only material that translates the viscera to mist. Early, the fog has not yet 

lifted, and we move through the white drip as if through total darkness. Fish lost in the deep under-

water. It is easy for water to find home in our bodies. How wonderful it is to think my father’s

dead father a translation of our living selves, the water in-between my cells, the same water of

ghosts. Of women and Buddha, of lotus flower and palace, of lion. See the shine of fire, even

now. See the smoke, encapsulated by the fog. My father tells stories of the state’s inexorable beckoning,

the brothers, and the sisters, too, sent to the countryside. What they remember most is the truck

and the dust, the broad shoulders of horse, that first night and its stars, the mass exodus of dragonflies

following the monsoons—but no, exodus is uniquely a human endeavor. My father cannot bring 

himself to anger; he knows it is shame that is the ugliest language. Somewhere, I have lost my place 

in the life-wheel, and the only words I know in Chinese are our names. Jiayu is rain. Jialei is rosebud. 

Only years later do I learn that Jiayu means jade. Only years later do I long for pure, unadulterated 

fortune over the ritual of early rain. Somehow, turn face to sky. Here. In memory, to burn is to revere.

Joss
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The Solidarity Book Project

By SONYA CLARK 

Sonya clark

The Solidarity Book Project was envisioned by Professor of Art and Art History Sonya Clark, as one way for Amherst College, in its Bicentennial year, to recommit to a more equitable future by pushing against legacies of settler colonialism and anti-Black racism.

The Solidarity Book Project
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March 2021 Poetry Feature: Sylvie Durbec

Poem by SYLVIE DURBEC, translated from the French by DENIS HIRSON

Sylvie Durbec was born in Marseille and lives in Provence, near Avignon. She writes texts in both prose and poetry, as well as painting and making collages. The many books she has published over the past twenty years include the prose-poetry memoire Marseille : éclats et quartiers (Marseille, fragments and quarters) which won the prestigious Jean Follain prize; Prendre place (Taking  place) concerning the internment camp at Douadic in France and Soutine, a prose-poem about the painter, published in The Common. This year she has published 50 carrés du jour (50 squares of the day) and Ça qui me poursuit (That which pursues me).

Denis Hirson grew up in South Africa and has lived in France since 1975. He has published nine books, several concerning the memory of South Africa under apartheid. The latest, both published in 2017, are Footnotes for the Panther, ten conversations with William Kentridge, and Ma langue au chat, in French, concerning the torture and delight of speaking and writing in that language.

 

Table of Contents 

  • The Ignorance of Beasts 

 

 

The Ignorance of Beasts

I still don’t know how to type a tilde on a computer keyboard

when writing the name of a Spanish or Portuguese writer I love.

 

Nor do I know what poetry is. 

 

March 2021 Poetry Feature: Sylvie Durbec
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2021 Festival of Debut Authors

On March 25th at 7:00pm, in honor of ten years of publishing and cultivating new voices, please join The Common‘s special events team for an evening devoted to emerging talents! Celebrate with poets and prose writers Ama Codjoe, Sara Elkamel, LaToya Faulk, Ben Shattuck, Angela Qian, and Ghassan Zeineddine. This event will take place virtually via Zoom.

This inaugural festival features readings and conversation, and aims to to raise scholarship funds for the magazine’s Young Writers Program. All contributions will be matched by the Whiting Foundation.

Register for the event, hosted by Tess Taylor, Katherine Vaz, and JinJin Xu, here

REGISTER

2021 Festival of Debut Authors
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Excerpt from Godshot

By CHELSEA BIEKER

Image of book cover

Excerpted from GODSHOT, now available from Catapult Books.
Copyright Chelsea Bieker, 2020. 

To have an assignment, Pastor Vern said, you had to be a woman of blood. You had to be a man of deep voice and Adam’s apple. And you should never reveal your assignment to another soul, for assignments were a holy bargaining between you and your pastor and God Himself. To speak of them directly would be to mar God’s voice, turn the supernatural human, and ruin it. So not even my own mother could tell me what her assignment was that unseasonably warm winter, wouldn’t tell me months into it when spring lifted up more dry heat around us, and everything twisted and changed forever.

I longed to know where she went when she left our apartment each morning, returning in the evening flushed, a bit more peeled back each time. I imagined her proselytizing to the vagrants sleeping on rags in the fields at the edge of town, combing the women’s mud-baked hair, holding their hands and exorcising evil from their hearts. I imagined her floating above our beloved town of Peaches, dropping God glitter over us like an angel, summoning the rain to cure our droughted fields. I imagined all these things with a burn of jealousy, for I had not received my woman’s blessing yet, the rush of blood between my legs that would signify me as useful. I’d just turned fourteen but was still a board-chested child in the eyes of God and Pastor Vern, and so I prayed day and night for the blood to come to me in a river, to flood the bed I shared with my mother. Then I would be ready. I could have an assignment too.

Excerpt from Godshot
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Intimations and Mercy, a Letter from the Bronx

By JUDITH BAUMEL

Image of book cover

“Nuns fret not at their convent’s narrow room,” I intoned solemnly when things were normal back in the BC days (Before COVID). “In truth the prison, unto which we doom/Ourselves; no prison is.” I winked at my “Forms in Poetry” class to let them know I felt their pain. It turned out to be our last face-to-face meeting for the semester. We were studying the sonnet and I’ve always used William Wordsworth’s love poem to strict forms as a pep talk for beginning prosodists. “And hence for me,/In sundry moods, ‘twas pastime to be bound/Within the Sonnet’s scanty plot of ground.”

Easy for you to say, I tell my three-weeks-ago self. I had no idea what was about to hit us. I’ll bet my shrinking TIAA stash that you didn’t either.

Intimations and Mercy, a Letter from the Bronx
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Virtual Office Hour for Teachers

Virtual AWP, Virtual Office Hour for Teachers: Please join us Thursday, March 5th, at 4pm ET via Zoom.  
Unfortunately, we at The Common had to cancel our trip to San Antonio, but I hope you’ll join me and Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Acker via video conference to chat about The Common‘s classroom program and our supportive resources for teachers and students. We’ll also be joined by Professor Judith Baumel (Adelphi University) who will share her experiences and answer your questions about teaching The Common
 
 
 
image of class
 
Questions in the interim? Send to Liz Witte, Associate Editor and Director of The Common in the Classroom at [email protected]! Know of a friend or colleague looking for a syllabus refresh? Forward them the link to this page so they can join, too.
Virtual Office Hour for Teachers
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