Finding the extraordinary in the common has long been the mission of literature. Inspired by this mission and the role of the town common, a public gathering place for the display and exchange of ideas, The Common seeks to recapture an old idea. The Common publishes fiction, essays, poetry, documentary vignettes, and images that embody particular times and places both real and imagined; from deserts to teeming ports; from Winnipeg to Beijing; from Earth to the Moon: literature and art powerful enough to reach from there to here. In short, we seek a modern sense of place.
Used for decades to describe the tangible local environments and rootedness in works by authors like Faulkner, Frost, and Welty, the idea of a sense of place has fallen out of fashion. Some may think the notion of place outdated or unimportant given our globally mobile populations and technology-driven careers. But these characteristics mean that sense of place is more important now than ever. In our hectic and sometimes alienating world, themes of place provoke us to reflect on our situations and both comfort and fascinate us. Sense of place is not provincial nor old fashioned. It is a characteristic of great literature from all ages around the world. It is, simply, the feeling of being transported, of “being there.” The Common aims to renew and reenergize our literary and artistic sense of place.
The Common is published in print biannually from Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Ours is a small community with far-reaching ideas. We’re a place of farmers, professors, immigrants, liberals, conservatives, dairy cows, tobacco plants, strip malls, and Victorian and Brutalist architecture. We have a rich literary history and support a vibrant diversity of artists and authors. The Common fosters regional creative spirit while stitching together a national and international community through publishing literature and art from around the world, bringing readers into a common space.