The Common (magazine)

The Common is an American nonprofit literary magazine founded in Amherst, Massachusetts by current Editor in Chief Jennifer Acker. The magazine, which has been based at Amherst College since 2011, publishes issues of stories, poems, essays, and images biannually. The magazine focuses its efforts on the motif of "a modern sense of place," and works to give the underrepresented artistic voices a literary space.[1]

The Common  
The Common Magazine logo.png
DisciplineLiterary magazine
Edited byJennifer Acker
Publication details
The Common (United States)
Standard abbreviations
ISO 4Common


The magazine's prototype issue, 00, was published in October, 2010. In early 2011, Jennifer Acker obtained an investment from Amherst College as a literary magazine focused on the motif of place in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual arts.[2] The magazine is published by The Common Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. At the magazine's inception, Amherst College provided an on-campus office, a website, funding for start-up costs, and the budget for a staff of student interns.[3] One former student employee, Diana Babineau, had transitioned into a full-time employee of the magazine as the managing editor under Acker. Since 2016, Emily Everett has worked as the managing editor of The Common. The College hosts the magazine's offices in its Robert Frost Library.

The Common′s partnership with Amherst College extends beyond the administration. The English Department, Creative Writing Center, and student-run prose and poetry magazine Circus have all collaborated with The Common in the past for events, public readings, book fairs, and writing workshops. Additionally, some professors at the College, including William Pritchard and Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Wilbur, have served on the editorial board. Since the magazine's founding, Jennifer Acker has periodically worked as a professor at the College, teaching some The Common′s pieces, among others. With this support, The Common launched its first issue, 01, in April 2011. The magazine has published seventeen issues to date, with an eighteenth expected in October, 2019.

Content and EditorsEdit

The Common has published new fiction by Lauren Groff, Fiona Maazel, Sabina Murray, and Teresa Svoboda, essays by Sarah Smarsh, W. Ralph Eubanks, and Susan Straight, and poems by Rafael Campo, Don Share, Honor Moore, Bob Hicok, Fatimah Asghar, David Lehman, J. D. McClatchy, John Freeman, and Mary Jo Salter. The magazine has featured part by Rico Gatson and Martha Rosler. Its prototype issue included a piece by Jim Shepard. The magazine has also published the work of debut writers, poets, and photographers.[4] Beyond the biannual issues, the magazine publishes literary features online, all freely available to the public. The website includes interviews, a fledgling podcast series, called Contributors in Conversation, a monthly recommendation of books from the authors and staff of The Common, called Friday Reads, Dispatches, short missives written by contributors evoking a particular sense of place, and other features not published in the print editions.

Critical Responses and AwardsEdit

In 2014, the magazine's first year of eligibility, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded The Common an Art Works Grant. Other authors and writers, whose works have not been included in The Common, have praised the magazine and some of the stories it has published. The Best American Series, whose editors have included Dave Eggers, Denise Duhamel, Cheryl Strayed, Elizabeth Strout, and Mark Doty, has named particular The Common issues and stories as belonging to their top lists of prose, poetry, and essays between the years 2012-2014. The 26th Annual New York Book Show recognized The Common Issues 01 and 02, earning the magazine a second place literary magazine design award. Other contributors to The Common have had their work featured by Longform, Literary Hub, and Utne Reader. Others have won prizes from PEN America, New England Poetry Club, Craft Literary, O. Henry Award 2017, and the Pushcart Prize.[5] The journal's editorial vision and design has also been praised in The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, Slate, The Millions, Orion Magazine, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.[6] The magazine has won the CLMP Firecracker Award 2016. In 2019, The Common received the Literary Magazine Prize from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation.[7]


  1. ^ Jarnagin, Willa. "About The Common | The Common".
  2. ^ Walker, Scott (26 April 2011). "Welcome to a New Literary Magazine, The Common". Orion Magazine. Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  3. ^ Petulla, Sam (15 February 2011). "New Journal, Old School Values". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  4. ^ Peet, Lisa (28 June 2011). "A Sense of Place at The Common". Open Letters Monthly. Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  5. ^ Jarnagin, Willa. "Awards | The Common". Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  6. ^ "Arts & Museums | The Common Literary Magazine | Amherst College".
  7. ^ "Whiting Literary Magazine Prizes". Retrieved 2019-07-25.

External linksEdit