By Emily Gold Boutilier
[Literary magazine] In these days of digital technology and cost-cutting, some college-affiliated literary magazines, such as Northwestern’s TriQuarterly, have become online-only. Amherst, however, is moving in the opposite direction. In April The Common, a literary magazine based at Amherst, published its first issue—in print.
The magazine’s name reflects its mission to find the extraordinary in the common. It also highlights the role of the town common as a public gathering place for the exchange of ideas. “We live in an increasingly digital world, but place is not dead,” writes the editor, Jennifer Acker ’00, in the inaugural issue. “I conceived of The Common because I was looking for a journal like it. I was looking for a journal that takes the idea of place as the starting point for stories and original voices.”
The magazine’s advisory board includes such print heavyweights as Cullen Murphy ’74, editor-at-large at Vanity Fair (and an Amherst trustee) and Niko Pfund ’87, publisher of Oxford University Press’s academic and trade division. Its poetry editor is John Hennessy, a lecturer in the UMass English department. The Common hires Amherst students as interns.
Issue 1 of the new journal includes 24 poems, four short stories and three essays, including one by The Routes of Man author Ted Conover ’80. Among the other 20 contributors are poet Mary Jo Salter, physician and writer Rafael Campo ’87 and Professor of Russian Catherine Ciepiela ’83. Michael Kelly, who heads Archives and Special Collections at Frost Library, assembled and wrote about “Moonscapes,” a series of photos from an 1874 book that was among the first to include photographic images printed by a mechanical press.
While devoted to print, The Common is not print-only. It has both a Facebook page and a blog (www.thecommononline.org), and while print subscriptions are $20 per year (the magazine will publish two issues yearly), readers have the option to purchase a digital subscription, in PDF form, for half that cost.