by Kerry Skiff 11.10.2015 17 days ago
Posted In: Arts community, Literary at 04:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beyond the Books

Pottery Demonstration at the Kenton County Public Library's Covington Branch

Every piece of art has a story, but what we don’t often remember is that the story of the artist can be even more enthralling. Donna King of River’s Edge Pottery Studio shared not only her trade but her history with a group during a pottery demonstration at the Covington branch of the Kenton County Public Library. The demonstration, which was scheduled for only two hours, stretched out as King engaged her audience in a series of stories.She begian by slamming the clay on the wheel, making a large thump. “You’ve gotta get really really tough with it,” she explained. After centering the blob of clay on the wheel, King went to work on what she tells us is going to be a bowl. “With my students, the first thing I have them do is make a bowl,” she said.As we watched, King masterfully poked a hole in the middle of the clay lump, eventually widening it out to form a discernable bowl shape. Once she was finished with it, King set it aside and grabbed a larger lump of clay, which she again threw on the wheel. This one was to become a vase, and King eagerly shared her technique for designing her pieces, which includes using a variety of objects to create patterns. Leaves, feathers and lace are a few of her standard tools, but she’s also used Hot Wheels cars, plastic placemats and pages from adult coloring books. “Sometimes I use a feather, sometimes I use sugar, and one time I actually used cat’s whiskers,” she said, laughing. The library demonstration was King’s second at the Kenton County Public Library. The artist, who has been creating pottery for nine years, originally asked to display pottery for the Clay Alliance of Cincinnati, but when the library reached out requesting her to come give a presentation last fall, she gladly accepted.  “It’s just fun,” she said. “It’s just been an adventure.” The artist says she’s traveled all over the community doing demonstrations and classes and has worked with several Girl Scout troops and taught classes at Christian schools in the area, as well as teaching private or group classes. “I’ve had them as young as two years old, and up to 86 years old,” she said “People who say, ‘You know, I’ve always wanted to try that,’ and I say, ‘Well, now’s your chance.’ ”Find this interesting? Check out similar events at the Kenton County Public Library: Nov. 12: Scarf It Up: Learn to knit from a local hobbyist. (Durr Branch) Nov. 17: Coloring for Adults: Unwind at the Erlanger branch with this creative past time. (Erlanger Branch) Nov. 19: Holiday Sewing: Machines and fabric are available for you to come make a holiday gift. (Covington Branch)
by Kerry Skiff 09.23.2015 66 days ago
Posted In: Literary at 11:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beyond the Books

Signature Series at the Campbell County Public Library's Fort Thomas Branch

Writing can be so frustrating. As I sit here trying to spit out a catchy introduction, I struggle to make sense of anything in my brain, which seems to cause an even greater muddle. Most of the time writing is simple; you put a thought into words on a page. But the more I write the more I realize there’s more to crafting a paragraph than simply ordering the words correctly and sticking a period at the end. To be a good writer you must capture the heart of the message, sending it from inside yourself and into the reader. And if you’re a great writer, you’ll get something back. On Friday night I was settled in a chair at the Fort Thomas branch of the Campbell County Public Library, waiting for the first author visit of the Signature Series to begin. I watched the crowd of middle-aged women around me fidget impatiently in their seats, waiting for the nationally-acclaimed author, Beverly Lewis, to appear. As I, too, waited, I caught snippets of conversations as ladies swapped stories of reading Lewis’ novels, describing what her writing meant to them. I listened, wondering why Lewis didn’t write about her audience, for their stories seemed as touching as the books they seemed to adore. Perhaps one of the most touching tales came from the row right behind me. Paul and Janet Devotto were telling the woman seated beside them about Janet’s twin sister, Joan Braun, who passed away last October. Joan had a stroke several years ago that left her partially paralyzed. Because she couldn’t move her left arm or left leg, Joan came to live with Paul and Janet, so they could take care of her. “She was the greatest person,” Janet said when I caught up with her later, her voice catching slightly. “She loved to read more than anything else,” Paul explained to me. “Reading was a passion for her.” According to the couple, Joan’s favorite author was Beverly Lewis. “Joan loved her,” said Paul. Although Joan was an avid reader, her partial paralysis kept her from holding a book, so Janet and her husband bought Joan a Nook. “We got all her books to read, and we would sit and read until four in the morning,” Janet recalled. The couple eagerly relayed their story to Lewis as she signed their book, thanking her for the way her novels touch lives. As Paul later told me, “Not many people know they’ve made a difference, but this woman has. Joan needed something and this woman gave it to her.” The Devottos’ story is one of many Lewis has heard over the years. “I love to meet [my readers] and hear their stories, because they always tell me little tidbits about how the stories touched their hearts in a particular way,” she confided to me. “They say, ‘I know you, Beverly, I’ve read your heart. I’ve read your heart in all the books you’ve written.’ ” As I talked with Lewis about her audience, it’s evident from the softness of her voice that she has a very personal connection with her fans. “There’s some sort of a bond between me and my readers I think, now, from all the years and all the books, which I think is important,” Lewis said.  “I always call them my reader friends because, for all these many years, it seems like they have been so faithful to continue to show up for my new books, which is awesome.” Even as a self-proclaimed compulsive writer with more than 80 published works, Lewis has not lost the heart of her message, that very core that has inspired thousands across the globe. As I walked out the door at the end of the night, I realized all these people came because of a story. They each had one story that in turn influenced their life, providing comfort or peace or inspiration. These women came not to hear a story, but to share their stories, sequels that began in the pages of a book. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s good writing.  

Going Underground with Jim DeBrosse

0 Comments · Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Veteran newspaper reporter Jim DeBrosse’s Hidden City, set in, around and below the streets of Cincinnati, is a tour de force mystery thriller that also addresses many of the city’s social and political problems.  


Marilynne Robinson (Farrer, Strauss and Giroux)

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Marilynne Robinson’s Lila is an achingly beautiful and deeply spiritual meditation on life, love, humility, loss, redemption and, ultimately, the divine presence of grace.  

Fourth of July Creek

Smith Henderson (Ecco)

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 27, 2014
First-time novelist Smith Henderson’s Fourth of July Creek is the story of a social worker named Pete Snow who is caught in the web of a world gone wrong.  

High as the Horses Bridles

Scott Cheshire (Henry Holt and Company)

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 27, 2014
High as the Horses’ Bridles, the debut novel by Scott Cheshire, is about what happens after a 12-year-old boy-prophet named Josiah Laudermilk delivers an impassioned apocalyptic sermon to a group of about 3,000 impassioned faithful.  

New Novel Chronicles City’s Weirdest Museum

0 Comments · Tuesday, July 29, 2014
As part of her duties for Taft Museum of Art in 2007, Tamera Lenz Muente — now an assistant curator — was doing research for an exhibit on the work of acclaimed 19th century sculptor Hiram Powers.  

Love and Terror

Dorothy Weil (AuthorHouse)

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Dorothy Weil’s new novel, Love and Terror, takes place in a past so recent that we’ve all been there — the middle of the 21st century’s first decade — and is set in a place we know just as well, Cincinnati.   

Walking the Steps of Cincinnati: A Guide to the Queen City’s Scenic and Historic Secrets

Mary Anna DuSablon Revised by Connie J. Harrell and John Cicmanec (Ohio University Press)

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Walking the Steps of Cincinnati: A Guide to the Queen City’s Scenic and Historic Secrets is a wholly delightful book that first appeared in 1998 and returns in a revised edition as the weather invites taking full advantage of its subject matter.   

Visions of Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Anthology looks at our rapidly changing city in myriad ways

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Cincinnati is changing. Nowhere is this fact more apparent than in our once-sleepy downtown. From The Banks to Over-the-Rhine, from Fountain Square to Washington Park, the urban core is alive with activity.