0 Comments · Wednesday, February 10, 2016
When I say someone is a “serious writer,” I do it secretly during a private, one-sided conversation with myself. Because the public sharing of artistic output is often so randomly and arbitrarily judged, who really cares what I think?
by Samantha Gellin
Posted In: Commentary
at 08:23 AM | Permalink
In case you need a dictionary with the March 11 issue of CityBeat
Good morning readers! After a long dark haul, it's finally, finally spring. Well, actually, it's not. Spring technically doesn't start until March 20. But with the sun shining and the temps hitting 60 degrees, it certainly feels like it. And I'll take whatever I can get. Let's jump right into Words Nobody Uses or Knows in this week's issue. I found three in Rick Pender's critique of August: Osage County, which is running at the Clifton Performance Theatre until March 14. (Three? What's he trying to do?!)My favorite word of the issue is donnybrook — it sounds a bit made up, doesn't it? donnybrook: a scene of uproar and disorder; a heated argument (n.)Fun fact: The word originates from the historical Donnybrook Fair in Donnybrook, a district of Dublin, Ireland. The Fair, according to The Google, began in 1204 (whoa ... it always blows my mind a bit when I realize how much more history other countries have) and ran annually until 1866. Apparently the "fun fair" was infamous for its drunken brawls. Hence, the use of the word donnybrook.In this issue: "The ultimate result is a family donnybrook, with Barbara forcing her mother into rehab."Next best word in Pender's piece is miasma. miasma: a vaporous exhalation formerly believed to cause disease; an influence or atmosphere that tends to deplete or corrupt (n.)Appropriate, I think, because there was something about the word that reminded me of disease before I even looked up the definition. It's from the Greek word miainein, which literally means "to pollute." In this issue: "Ivy has been the dutiful
daughter, keeping her life on hold for years while tending to her
battling parents and their ills and idiosyncrasies and being badgered
for not marrying; she’s sick of the miasma of bad behavior and more than
eager to escape."The third (but not last) word from Pender is vituperative, pronounced "vahy-too-per-uh-tiv."vituperative: bitter and abusive (adj.)In this issue: "Hodges captures Violet’s
vituperative nature, but allows a few cracks in her cantankerous façade
to reveal the once vulnerable woman inside."Of course, our lesson wouldn't be complete without an unusual word from Kathy Y. Wilson's piece "Mother and Child Reunion." It's actually one of my favorite stories in this week's issue. (Which I hope you've picked up already.) The word is mellifluous. It's a from the late Latin word mellifluus (15th century), where mel translates to "honey" and fluere translates to "flow".mellifluous: (of a voice or words) sweet or musical; pleasant to hear (adj.)Makes sense, right?In this issue: "The very first time I heard the plaintive
and mellifluous baritone of Luther Vandross I was riding with my mom
through a cold rain through the intersection of Kemper Road and
Springfield Pike in Springdale coming from the old Thriftway grocery
by Samantha Gellin
Posted In: Commentary
at 01:00 PM | Permalink
In case you need a dictionary with the Dec. 3 issue of CityBeat
Afternoon readers! Now that Thanksgiving is over, it's back to the normal grind, at least until Christmas. I hope everyone was able to stuff themselves with turkey and spend time with loved ones. Let's get to Words Nobody Uses or Knows in this week's issue, which, by the way, includes a lovely piece on Ohio's historical markers.Best word of the issue: cineastes, which appears in TT Stern-Enzi's art piece about MUBI, an innovative new film-streaming service for the "cinematic-minded."cineastes: plural of cineaste; a film or movie enthusiast, a person involved in filmmaking (n.)It's an obvious definition, but one I had never heard before. In this issue: "Since signing up, I have embarked on an
old-school word of mouth campaign in support of MUBI, whispering in the
ears of cineastes in my inner circle, teasing them with hints about its
possibilities."Next best word is Gramaphone, capital G, found in Stacy Sim's review of Failure: A Love Story. Ancestor to the megaphone? A phone your grandma owns?Neither. According to Wikipedia, the Gramaphone is a phonograph, the first device for recording and replaying sound (n.) In this issue: "There are three lovely
Graces (Sophia Dewald, Megan Urz, Molly Watson) who narrate rapid-fire
the events of the play, a strong Ensemble (Gabby Francis, Colin Kissel,
Sarah Allen Shull and Andrew Wiemann) of clocks, birds, a dog, snake and
various others, plus a smooth jazz onstage band with vocals to
contribute the Gramophone soundtrack."Mathcore was the next word that caught my eye. Sounds like a really, really unpleasant type of math course. (But I find all types of math unpleasant.) It's in Sound Advice.Mathcore: a rhythmically complex and dissonant style of
metalcore. It has its roots in bands such as Converge, Coalesce, Botch
and The Dillinger Escape Plan. The term mathcore is suggested by analogy with math rock. (n.)Looking up the definition of a music genre is a bit like jumping into a rabbit hole. Each one one is derived from or related to another genre of music that I've never heard of. (If I'm being honest, most of the music genres I've learned feel like a joke.) What is math rock? What is metalcore? It's obvious that I'm no music expert (hell, when I started to work here I thought there was, like, 10 genres tops) but I can't be the only one who has never heard of mathcore. In this issue: "Beyond their Spinal Tappish propensity to
blow up bassists, Every Time I Die has earned a solid reputation as a
scorching live outfit and a stylistically diverse band that has
attracted Metal fans of every conceivable sub-stripe, as well as
Mathcore and Punk aficionados."Moving on. Next on the list is commensurate, in Kathy Y. Wilson's thought-provoking piece "On Being White."commensurate: equal in measure of size; coextensive. corresponding in extent or degree; proportionate. (adj.)In this issue: "Four: It doesn’t take a sociologist or
statistician to know that white officers just do not shoot and kill
white kids at commensurate rates that they shoot black kids." Not exactly an uplifting note to end our vocab lesson on, but if you want something to chew on for awhile, read Kathy's piece. Have a good weekend, readers.
National Novel Writing Month creates an authentic, inclusive writing culture in Cincinnati
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 3, 2014
NaNoWriMo participants in Cincinnati may not end up publishing
their novels, but like many authentic artistic experiences shared with
family, students or strangers, the benefits of NaNoWriMo lie in the
process, not the product.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 8, 2014
I wasn’t then and neither am I now a journalist. I have always been a writer.
by Amber Hemmerle
Posted In: Commentary
at 12:23 PM | Permalink
A few weeks ago when I was heading to the CityBeat office I
encountered a woman who changed my perspective on many things. It was one of
those "Everything happens for a reason, even if you don't know the
reason yet" moments.
I parked in the Elm Street
lot, paid the machine my $3.50 and walked towards Race Street as usual. It
was cold outside and my hands were full with coffee, a notebook, my lunch and
I was running late —
also as usual — when a woman approached me. Looking back now, I can’t even
recall how she sounded or what she looked like.
Our conversation went
something like this:
"Would you help
someone in need if you could?" she asked.
"I'm selling my
poems for $2 so I can have extra money to pay for my son's birthday."
"I don't even know
if I have $2, hold on. I'm kind of in a hurry...Oh, wait…Here, I do have
I had three single
dollar bills in my wallet and I handed her two of them.
"Thank you, God
bless you," she said. We made our transaction and parted ways. Her
poems were typed, printed and covered by a clear paper protector. She continued
up Elm toward Vine Street as I turned the corner.
As I waited for the
elevator, I began reading her poems. That's spelled wrong, I thought. That needs an apostrophe. It’s
"to," not "too." I picked out a laundry list of
grammatical and technical errors and immediately dismissed her work. I looked
at her poems, but I didn't actually read them.
A few days later one of
the ice and snowstorms hit the Tri-state area again. I wondered if anyone was
out in this weather because I was certainly not leaving the comfort of my bed
for any reason.
I don’t know why, but I
began thinking about the woman who approached me on the street earlier in the
week. I wondered if she was out there, in that terrible weather, selling
her poems. Had she needed the $2 that badly? Did she ever get to have her son’s
All of these thoughts
washed over me. I pictured her, the image I had created of her, sitting at the
library typing up the poems she had written while her son was at school.
I pictured her taking
her last few dollars to buy the transparent paper protectors at the dollar
store and preparing them for the next day when she would hit the streets to
A feeling of shame had
overcome me. How could I dismiss what she had written because of a few errors
that had no real effect on the message of her poems?
This woman had already
probably sold more of her writing than me, and that’s what I am
paying thousands of dollars in tuition for: to sell my words.
One of her poems is
titled Determination, which is what
she has and I was too blind to see that at the time we met.
I might have some of the
editing experience now, but when I first started writing those were skills I
didn’t possess or even care about.
I didn’t care if I
needed a comma here or there, I didn’t care if I used the wrong form of “to” or
ended a sentence with a preposition. I simply wanted to write.
I lost the passion
behind my own words because I’ve been so worried about being technically
correct all the time. And trust me, I never even end up being technically
correct all the time.
That woman, whoever or
wherever she is now, showed me that you don’t need a college degree to have
determination. You don’t need to have the perfect sentence or know every
grammar rule to express how you feel.
We, as humans, judge
people all the time whether we want to admit it or not. We judge people by
appearances, by the way they talk, or the way they write in this case.
She signed her name at
the end of the poems, a signature that I can’t make out very well, but I
want to thank her for showing me what real determination is.
itself on the local artists, musicians and writers that
are bred here. We celebrate them and award them for their talent. I
don’t know where this woman is now, but she, and the others just like her who
might not be at the open mic nights or in galleries, deserve recognition
To her I say: That was
the best $2 I ever spent.
1 Comment · Thursday, January 3, 2013
It’s pretty widely accepted that creative
types — the kind whose work is meant to disseminated — share a common
trait: swollen, bulging egos that must constantly be nursed with
attention, positive or otherwise. The writer writes, of course, because
he likes the sound of his own voice.
Larry Gross writes about everyday people doing everyday things
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The subtitle of Larry Gross’ latest independently published book says everything you need to know about its content, which largely consists of his Living Out Loud columns for CityBeat: “Adventures, Discoveries and Conclusions Made While Exploring a Life — Namely My Own.”