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”
Silvia Spring speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her debut short story “The Home Front,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation, Spring talks about the inspiration and process behind this story, which tangles with the difficulties of coming into adulthood, and the experience of living abroad without feeling part of the community. Spring drew from her own experience studying and living in London in the U.K., and her time as a journalist at Newsweek, embedded with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The conversation also includes discussion of the revision process; writing without an MFA; and U.S. foreign policy, today and over the last few years.
Jennifer Jean speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her poem “California,” which appears in The Common online, in a special portfolio of writing from the Lusosphere (Portugal and its colonial and linguistic diaspora). Jean talks about writing this poem to be in conversation with Joni Mitchell’s song of the same title, and how music works its way into much of her poetry, in both rhythm and language. She also discusses writing her new poetry collection Object Lesson which centers on trauma, and co-translating poems by Iraqi women poets with an Arabic translator.
Deborah Lindsay Williams speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “‘You Like to Have Some Cup of Tea?’ and Other Questions About Complicity and Place,” which appears in Issue 20 of The Common magazine. In this conversation, Williams talks about living and writing in Abu Dhabi, traveling to South Africa with her family, and how narrow the western view of these places can be, often simplifying very complex issues of racial hierarchy, economics, culture, and history. She also discusses her novel-in-progress, The Corset and the Veil, based on the life of Lady Hester Stanhope, who fled England in 1809 in search of alternatives to her life as an impoverished aristocrat.
Writer and translator Edgar Garbelotto speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his short story “A Fourteen-Hour Lesson in Theosophy,” which appears in Issue 20 of The Common magazine. The story imagines the final hours of author Clarice Lispector’s life. In this conversation, Garbelotto talks about the process of fictionalizing a real person and bringing her to life in the streets of Rio. Garbelotto also discusses the experience of writing and translating in English, which is his second language, and the way that experience has changed his approach to writing original work. Portuguese is a more playful, allegorical language than English, Garbelotto says, and he’s learned to approach each language differently.
Podcast: Edgar Garbelotto on “A Fourteen-Hour Lesson in Theosophy”
Casey Walker speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his short story “Vigilância,” which appears in Issue 20 of The Common magazine. In this conversation, Walker talks about writing World War II-era Lisbon through the eyes of a police informer who trades in secrets. Walker also discusses the complex nature of complicity in his novel Last Days in Shanghai, and the historical and personal background behind his current project Mexicali, a new novel set in the Mexican-American borderlands.
Katherine Vaz speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her short story “The Treasure Hunt of August Dias,” which appears in Issue 20 of The Common magazine. In this conversation, Vaz talks about her long career of writing novels and short stories about Portuguese and Portuguese-American characters and their rich, complex communities. She also discusses her current project, a heavily researched historical novel about Portuguese immigrants set during the Civil War.
Podcast: Katherine Vaz on “The Treasure Hunt of August Dias”
Translator Jethro Soutar speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about three pieces he translated from Portuguese for Issue 20 of The Common magazine. These pieces appear in a special portfolio of writing from and about the Lusosphere—Portugal’s colonial and linguistic diaspora around the globe. In this conversation, Soutar talks about the complexities of translating poetry and prose: capturing not just the meaning of a piece but the feeling and atmosphere of it, and the culture behind the scenes. He also explains a little of the colonial and racial history of Portugal, Cape Verde, and Mozambique, and how those events echo today through the literature and language of modern Lusophone countries.