Here we are again, at the end of another year. It’s been a productive time for the Cambridge Common Writers community, with book launches, readings, awards, and so much writing. In honor of all these achievements, we are thrilled to bring you our annual End-Of-Year Celebration and Gift Guide, and we hope you’ll take some time to look through this list and celebrate the incredible work from our community.
We’d also like to take a moment to thank you. All of you, from our alum volunteers who have helped us with our Spotlight series and our social media, to our authors who invited us to host their book launches and hold conversations about their novels, and to every CCW member who has been reading, engaging, and supporting our community right alongside us. We wouldn’t exist without you.
As 2022 draws to a close, we hope you’ll join us in looking towards 2023, with new opportunities for connection, for sharing your work with the world, and for welcoming the next two cohorts of graduates as members of CCW!
Our alums in every genre have been busy sending their work out into the world. Here are just a few highlights from 2022, with a link to even more below!
In Fiction, David Farrow published “Liminal Spaces” in Mythaxis Magazine, which follows a paranoid mother on a dreamlike journey through a series of liminal places as she tries to figure out what happened to her missing daughter, and “Little Death” in Haven Speculative (when a fatal virus sweeps the world, one immune queer woman offers intimacy and closeness to those about to die).
Over in Nonfiction, Julie Lam published an article on Medium about wearing masks on the subway, “You Do You” –NYC Transit System’s Self-Mockery Campaign Backfired.” Ella Alkiewicz has utilized her nonfiction MFA in creative ways, exhibiting her acrylic paintings and digital prints at a dozen different art groups this past year. Her artwork currently sells in the all-Indigenous artist market in Toronto, Ontario, the MAP Gallery in Easthampton, Mass. and the Wampanoag Trading Post and Gallery in Mashpee, Mass.
Our Poets have been hard at work as well. Jennifer LeBlanc has published several poems this year– “Endurance” (Consequence 14.2, Fall 2022); “Acedia, Sloth” (Nixes Mate Review 24/25, Summer/Fall 2022); “Piano Recital, Private Residence in Newton” (San Pedro River Review 14.2, Fall 2022). In “No News for Me,” Ella Alkiewicz has written a short free-verse poem about her feelings on the pandemic with some Inuktut words. She has also taught six Indigenous adult classes on painting and poetry since August, and two workshops for Mt. Holyoke College on poetry and healing. She will be hosting a reading on January 18th at the Creative Resilience Lab in Holyoke and also on Zoom (register here). Caitlin T.D. Robinson published two poems in Evening Street Press–“The Recipe Calls for Milk” and “How to Eat a Grapefruit while Pregnant”–“When you fold laundry,” in The Bread Loaf Journal, and her poem, “the lilacs with you,” won The Bread Loaf School of English’s 2022 Robert Haiduke Poetry Prize.
2022 Holiday Gift Guide
Looking for the perfect gift for the holidays? We have plenty of books from alums and mentors to choose from below.
Writing for Young People
Beneath The Wide Silk Sky by Emily Inouye Huey
Scholastic Press; YA Historical
“Searing. Intense. Unforgettable.” — Andrea Wang (WFYP, June 2011)
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh
Feiwel & Friends; YA SFF & Contemporary
“On every page I found something marvelous and new, and I was eager to keep reading because I wanted to further explore this wondrous new world.” — The New York Times
Postcards from Summer by Cynthia Platt
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Young Adult
“An all-encompassing story full of deep romance and searing tragedy.” — Kirkus Reviews
The Sweetest Scoop: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Revolution by Lisa Robinson
Abrams Books for Young Readers; Picture Book
“The Sweetest Scoop is a visual treat! Kids (and some adults too) will enjoy it for the great illustrations alone, with lots of ice cream, cows and 60s-70s vibe! The story is told in a way that kids can understand, and balances the fun with the social mission of the company. It’s a book that parents and grandparents can really enjoy reading to kids as well.” — Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield
Blowin’ My Mind Like a Summer Breeze by Benjamin Roesch
Deep Hearts YA; Young Adult
“‘An unforgettable mix tape of teenaged angst, good-natured wit, killer tunes, and family drama. A tender and accomplished debut.” — Celeste Mohammed, author of Pleasantview, winner of the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature
Luli and the Language of Tea by Andrea Wang
Neal Porter Books; Picture Book
“Wang writes a simple, precise narrative that is more than the sum of its parts. Few writers could conjure up the characters’ contentment as concisely. . . . Yum’s sensitive colored-pencil illustrations use clean lines, rounded shapes, and soft hues to depict the setting and reveal the characters’ emotions. . . . A rewarding read-aloud choice.” — Booklist, starred review
A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga
Balzer + Bray; Middle Grade
“It’s a gripping read. The novel does a terrific job of communicating scientific information to young readers, and it’s also emotionally satisfying.” — New York Times Book Review
The Golden Land by Elizabeth Shick
New Issues Poetry and Prose
“Like the Burmese puppeteer whose marionettes dance within this novel, Elizabeth Shick knows how seeming opposites are actually tied together: jiggle the past, and the future tilts; touch regret, touch loss, and set in motion love or liberation. Balancing the personal with the political, and showing romance side by side with a blood-soaked reality, this engrossing story is about the difficult necessity of revisiting trauma. The Golden Land radiates with cultural empathy, a glow that might light a path toward justice.” — Michael Lowenthal
A Fractured Infinity by Nathan Tavares
“A very beautiful, tender portrait of a romance, its unremarkable mundanity made precious against the backdrop of so many iterations…It’s a delightful, spiraling, idiosyncratic book that uses the language and techniques of filmmaking to structure a more interesting reading experience.” — The New York Times
Just Another Meat-Eating Dirtbag: A Memoir by Michael Anthony
Street Noise Books
“Addressing more than just the carnivore/vegetarian/vegan debate, also questions of war, speciesism, ethics, and religion. A star-crossed love story, told in confident, self-aware narration, spiced with engaging art, makes for a fulfilling meal.” — Josh Neufeld, author of A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge
“Robbie’s Mardi Gras” by Jodi Sh. Doff
(Available in Whorephobia: Strippers on Art, Work, and Life)
Seven Stories Press
“Filmmaker Borden presents a diverse and authentic anthology of autobiographical essays by strippers. […] Each piece is paired with an interview—conducted by Borden or another contributor—with the author (or someone close to her if she has died), providing intriguing details about each performer’s background and offering a window into the supportive relationships among sex industry peers. Most of the women featured are activists, writers, or artists, and they excel at narrating their own stories and evoking the atmosphere of the clubs and digital spaces where they’ve performed. The result is a humane, multidimensional portrait of an industry typically shrouded in artifice and shame.” — Publishers Weekly
Miss Chloe: A Memoir of a Literary Friendship with Toni Morrison by A.J. Verdelle
“Verdelle offers us testimony in praise and consideration of life as a literary citizen and Black woman alongside the guiding light of Toni Morrison. This is a holy testimony, indeed, one that deserves to be amen’d forever.” — Jason Reynolds, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
Since the House Is Burning by Suzanne Edison
“Suzanne Edison’s gorgeously lyrical collection Since the House Is Burning understands one of the most important principles of poetry: that it first be a pleasure in language. Of course, these are often bittersweet pleasures, if a poet is willing to tell the truth of her experience as Edison does here (in this case, as a wife, mother, daughter; as citizen of a world on fire and a caretaker to many). Musically adept, formally precise, both clear eyed and unfailingly empathetic in its worldview, it’s a beautiful book-one any thoughtful reader of poetry will be glad to know.” – Erin Belieu, author of Come-Hither, Honeycomb, from Copper Canyon Press
A Can of Pinto Beans by Robbie Gamble
Lily Poetry Review
“I have admired Robbie Gamble’s work for many years as it appeared in print and online journals. However, in reading these poems all at once, in one stellar collection, I feel the top of my head taken off. The collage of forms: memo, logbook, persona poem, and prose poems all serve to insure that the reader cannot look away from people coming with “unanticipated speed, in waves, on leaky rafts, [ ] or blistered feet/ on their last/ drips of adrenaline.” Weeks after encountering this work, the images of a Hello Kitty Backpack, a can of pinto beans, and the marked location of the scapula still rise unbidden in my mind. These are necessary poems; poems that will change you.” — Susan Rich, Gallery of Poems and Maps: New and Selected Poems
Glory Holes by Boston Gordon
Small Harbor Publishing
Here are Boston Gordon’s poems: glory holes, each of them, with a waiting want on the other side. Where anything worth praying to is also worth desiring in lush quantity: “When you kissed / you remembered the prayers, and also / the dream.” Where we, the reader and the omnipresent, get smoked and listened to: “look, it’s the bad alleyway with the bathhouse. / Steam and men slink through the door cracks, hot.” Where “the other is howling, maybe.”
What joy and ache live in these lines and the spaces surrounding them. What a call to a world, a howling other, which lives in the dark and cracked recesses of ourselves—which is to say, all those who need it, need only read these words, close their eyes, say “comeback. Take up my space. Everyone is leaving.”
— July Westhale, author of Trailer Trash, Via Negativa, and bright news like gladiolas
Now Calls Me Daughter by Christine Jones
Nixes Mate Books
“Christine Jones brilliantly flattens time to lament her beloved mother’s Alzheimer’s, and to celebrate the mother Now.” — Eileen Cleary, Lesley MFA June 2014