Amherst steps up its uncommon commitment to The Common
The release on May 11 of the seventh issue of The Common, the rapidly growing print and online literary magazine based at Amherst College, marks increased college support for the magazine.
Jennifer Acker ’00
The Common was founded in 2009 by Jennifer Acker ’00 and inspired by the role of the town common as a public gathering place. The magazine publishes “fiction, essays, poetry, and images that embody particular times and places both real and imagined: literature and art powerful enough to reach from there to here.” The Common’s debut issue appeared in April 2011.
“The Common extends Amherst’s long and proud association with literature and writing, and does it in a way that benefits our students as well as a broader literary community,” said Amherst President Biddy Martin. “We are delighted to support it.”
In January, Acker’s position was expanded to fulltime, and a new managing editor—a position for a recent Amherst graduate—will start work at The Common on July 1. “This increased support actively advances the College’s reputation as the country’s premier writing college,” Acker said, adding, “It also highlights the value Amherst places on its rich literary tradition.”
As editor in chief, Acker will continue to direct an innovative literary publishing internship program for Amherst College students that is now in its fifth year. Amherst Dean of the Faculty Gregory Call said The Common has already made a remarkable impact in the literary community and among Amherst students through its internship program. “We’re excited by its early success and eager to support its ongoing growth in years to come,” he added.
With an increased budget come increased fundraising goals. To that end, The Common will be hosting a benefit in New York City on May 21, called The Common in the (Eternal) City, that will feature another city's "town common," Rome's Piazza Navona, and conversations with Italian author and filmmaker Antonio Monda and The New Yorker staff writer Larissa MacFarquhar. An evening highlight will be an unprecedented Postcard Auction featuring bids on personalized, handwritten postcards from famous authors, including Scott Turow ‘70.
The Common's Issue 07 transports readers to Europe, home of the Brothers Grimm, with pieces inspired by the fantastic and the ordinary. Acclaimed Roman author Francesca Marciano offers a modern Italian fairy tale with a twist, Jaydn DeWald's poetry ponders Spanish paintings, and Elvis Bego tells a story both whimsical and dark from the streets of Copenhagen. Kelcey Parker explores the little-known life of Czech fairy tale writer Božena Nĕmcová, and a translated chapter from provocative Russian writer Zakhar Prilepin's novel SANKYA left one reviewer "devastated." Issue 07 also features work from contributors whose roots extend far beyond Europe, including Lebanese poet Zeina Hashem Beck and eminent Chilean-American writer Ariel Dorfman.
The Common will celebrate the launch of Issue 07 with a picnic at the Amherst College Alumni House on Sunday, May 11 from 4pm to 7pm, featuring readings by 07 contributors Nalini Jones ’93 and Jeff Parker. The event is free and open to the public.
About The Common
The Common is an award-winning literary magazine based at Amherst College. Inspired by the role of the town common—a public gathering place for the display of ideas—the magazine publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and images that invoke a modern sense of place. Since its debut in 2011, The Common has received multiple awards from the Best American series, a design award from the New York Book Show, and attention for its editorial vision from national media such as The New Yorker, The Millions, andthe Chronicle of Higher Education. The first six issues feature work by Lauren Groff, Major Jackson, Brad Leithauser, Claire Messud, and Phillip Lopate, plus many emerging writers and visual artists.
The Common Issue 07 is available in print in bookstores and at thecommononline.org for $12. Subscriptions begin at $20. The Common Webstore also offers issues and subscriptions in PDF and Kindle formats.
About Amherst College
Founded in 1821, Amherst is a highly selective, coeducational liberal arts college with approximately 1,800 students from most of the 50 states and more than 30 other countries. Considered one of the nation’s best educational institutions, Amherst awards the B.A. degree in 38 fields of study. Sixty percent of Amherst students receive need-based financial aid.