I recall hearing “greed… is good” spouted by Micheal Douglas’s sleazy character, Gordon Gekko (a lizard, get it?), in the ’80s movie Wall Street, but it seems that it’s gotten much worse since then. See The Wolf of Wall Street, possibly another movie to inspire youth to be disregard decency in pursuit of ever more excess. Sounds like a recently deposed presidential failure, no?
You may have heard of Darrell Scott through the repeated use of his song “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” on the TV show Justified, but his back catalog is full of equally compelling Americana and country music.
Scott sings movingly of the coalminers’ plight after their mineral rights were snatched up cheap. Justified frequently “put [the song] in such a dramatic and closing place within the show” that viewers took noticed and learned more about an artist whose songs have also been covered by Garth Brooks, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea, The Chicks, Keb’ Mo, and Faith Hill, among many others.
But as famous as he’s become through the years, being a songwriter brings a certain amount of anonymity. “That’s the illusion in the music industry. We all pretend that the person singing the song is the one who wrote it. And that’s fine,” Scott says wryly, “As long as the royalties come through.”
Each Ohio Poet Laureate gets to choose a personal project. The current poet laureate, Kari Gunter-Seymour, chose to focus on addiction. “I feel so strongly about the way addiction is being treated in this country, almost ignored,” Gunter-Seymour says. Addiction is, in many ways a peculiarly Ohio issue, since “Ohio has come in second many times for overdose deaths.”
Her passion is evident in not only her poetry project with Ohio prisoners overcoming addiction but also in her views on the true culprits: “Big Pharma needs to stand up and take its beating for what it has done to the population of our country.”
Aside from working with addiction and recovery, Gunter-Seymour has strong ties to the Women of Appalachia project, which involves the 420 counties in Appalachia:
Our work is informing folks all over the country and across the pond that Appalachians in general, and in particular, women are not barefoot, we have teeth, we are not underfed, we’re not over fed, we’re not under-groomed. Most of us are well educated. And if we’re not educated in school academic settings, we’re highly educated in horticulture and animal husbandry, and those other things that those who are caretakers of the land learn, and they get passed down from generation to generation.
Former Ohioan and author Prince Shakur published his debut memoir When They Tell You to Be Good in October 2022. It received both the Library Journal and Okayplayer Best Memoir of 2022. In it, he delves into his childhood and growing up as gay and black in the midwest.
In our interview, we discussed his memoir, upbringing, family trauma and his experiences with state run violence, the aftereffects of which he sees as always close to him, as close as the images on his cell phone. He will appear at the 2023 Ohioana Book Festival on Saturday, April 22, 2023.
Former two-term Ohio governor and author Richard Celeste has released his memoir, In the Heart of It All: An Unvarnished Account of My Life in Public Service. He describes his life from his early years near Cleveland, Ohio, to Yale, to a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford, and points beyond, including the Ohio State House and governor’s mansion. He will appear at the 2023 Ohioana Book Festival on Saturday, April 22.
Running a lightly funded campaign his first time angling for governor, Celeste employed guerrilla tactics such as having his name announced over airport public address systems so as to gain name recognition. He also “dropped political literature in the precincts of every political writer for one of the Ohio major newspapers on the same day, and … on the doorstep of Governor Gilligan, as well.”
I met Becky Cloonan at the 2022 Columbus Galaxy Con, where we discussed her comic book writing, the influence of comics on the movies made from them, and the sweet freedom that comes from self publishing. Listen in to find out why she loves comics.
“I’m great at multitasking,” some people say. But does leading a harried existence of constant interruptions, shifting our attention when the boss calls, or when a client needs “just a minute of your time,” or when the spouse or kids need you right now have a cost? All of these interruptions shift our focus, tear us away from what we’re doing. Individually, changing focus seems minor, just another part of modern life, but researcher Dr. Gloria Mark says interruptions add up and they’re stripping away our ability to have sustained focus. Dr. Mark, prolifically published psychologist and University of California’s Chancellor Professor of Informatics, has recently published Attention Span. Among her research findings is that the average attention on any screen was two minutes, 30 seconds in 2004. It was 75 seconds in 2012. In the last five to six years, it’s 47 seconds.
Are you still with me?
Listen in to hear more about her findings and what kinds of hope she sees for our ability to focus.
Genre-spanning singer/songwriter Roberta Lea writes soul, pop, RnB, and country songs and was named one of “12 Artists to Watch in 2022” by Nashville Scene’s Country Almanac. Her single “Sweet Baby Ray” was awarded Song of the Year at the 2022 Veer Music Awards and was recently inducted into CMT’s Next Women of Country Class of 2023. She will be in Columbus with Joe Crookston and Six String Concerts on February 17.
Listen in to hear about her songwriting process, having friends pressure her into releasing a song, and why her husband is blameless for another of her songs. YOu can learn more about her at iamrobertalea.com
Imagine being a slave on a southern plantation whose mistress died and you were under suspicion. Obviously, you would need to leave as soon as possible before retribution. The most reasonable course of action would seem to be going north, but what if you don’t know anyone in the north? Without family, who would help you? Who could you trust?
That’s the conundrum facing John Billingsly, the protagonist of Eric Walker’s book Lost Souls Recovered, who must leave his mother and their slave cabin on a plantation in Richmond, Virginia, to find safety with a cousin in Mount Hope, Alabama, a decidedly southern direction or, as Walker puts it, “into the belly of the beast.”
Author and amateur genealogist Walker heard stories throughout his life from family members describing the struggles of their African American ancestors. Eventually, he decided to take these stories and make them into a fictional representation of his family with this book.
The creation of the book itself is a saga years in the making, with Walker putting it down for a decade after it was written and edited. Listen in to hear about how he got started with his writing, how he wound his way through a variety of publishing options, and what he’s working on now.
Some authors plot out their books in detail. Some write by the seat of their pants. And some, like JD Blackrose, combine these approaches to create works in a variety of genres. Her books include The Devil’s Been Busy, A Wrinkle and Crime, and The Summoner’s Mark series. Her dark fantasy story “Welcome, Death” appears in The Jewish Book of Horror and looks at the pogroms of 1918 and 1919. She also has an urban fantasy series, a genre she finds attractive because “one of the great things about urban fantasy is that a lot of the writers are female.” You can read more about her work at www.slipperywords.com.