By Tracy Zollinger Turner
"All human beings should try to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.” – James Thurber
When it comes to the writing of true stories, the literary world appears to be the most comfortable with words like “journalism” and “memoir.” After all, if what one is writing about things that have actually happened, then how can one justifiably call the writing “creative”? But “creative nonfiction” appears on bookstore shelves (and in electronic readers) under many guises and classifications, be it essay, literary nonfiction, new journalism, memoir or current affairs. The National Endowment for the Arts has used it as a category for individual grants since 1984, but it has yet to take root as a go-to literary term.
Just ask Joe Oestreich, whose book Hitless Wonder chronicles his 25-year tenure in Columbus band Watershed, though major record label deals and disappointments, superstar opening slots and run-down tour vans. At 20, he came across Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, and dug into more of the writing touted most popularly as “new journalism.”
For several years, he chronicled his life as a musician informally, before running into an opportunity to make something more of those stories.
“My wife was a PhD student in the literature program at OSU, so I met some people in the creative writing MFA program that were writing nonfiction,” says Oestreich. “I thought: ‘you can do that? You can actually go to school to write like Norman Mailer or Tom Wolfe or Joan Didion?"
So he applied and was accepted into the program, where creative nonfiction was still a relatively fresh component compared to its counterparts of poetry and fiction. But its potential subject matter is every bit as vast. Whether the topic is travel or history, the important quality of creative nonfiction is that it weaves a story with literary prowess and illuminates its subjects more than the facts – presented without storytelling or interpretation - might. As Lee Gutkind, founder and editor of the journal Creative Nonfiction, the genre is simply “factually accurate prose about real people and events—in a compelling, vivid manner.”
Hitless Wonder, which began as Oestreich’s MFA thesis, was released in the spring of this year and has been well-received by national and local media, earning positive reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and the Washington Post, as well as a lengthy radio feature about both the band and the book on NPR’s Weekend Edition. But finding the right publisher wasn’t easy for him.
By Jennifer Sadler
As the most comprehensive online events guide and resource for arts and culture in central Ohio, ColumbusArts.com offers a virtual guide through the Columbus art world with a searchable database of events, concerts, performances and more. ColumbusArts.com is an engaging place for artists and arts organizations to share what they do, with an average of 30,000 users per month. The ColumbusArts.com Artist Directory allows visual, performing and literary artists to create a profile and portfolio to showcase their work—for free—and enables art enthusiasts to easily search for and connect with them. Our monthly ColumbusArts.com artist profile series features interviews with a few of the many talented individuals who make up central Ohio’s thriving creative community. This month's profile features acclaimed local playwright, Johnrick Hole. Hole has been a fixture in the Columbus theatre scene for more than 25 years and is still going strong. To celebrate the Columbus Bicentennial, Evolution Theatre Company, a collective of artists whose goal is to expose Columbus area audiences to new works and revision classics, will host the Bicentennial Playwrights Festival, featuring local writers' tales about Ohio's fabulous Capital City. The Festival will feature six new, never before produced one acts plays, including Hole's Room Service? Send Me a Room!
"In one sense I'm sure [working in Columbus is like] being a playwright anywhere- it's hard as hell to get produced, and that is the case everywhere. Theatres of all types and at all levels of production are taking a huge risk with whatever resources they have and their future when they take on a new play. I am very grateful to the audiences, staffs, boards, and artists of CATCO, UpStage Productions, Red Herring Theatre, Reality Theater, MadLab, and Theatre Daedalus for producing my plays. I’ve had eight short plays and three full-length plays produced in Columbus. I’ve managed to get a few things done outside of 270, and I would love to have my plays seen by more audiences and in other cities and I’m working on that, but I’ve sat in paying audiences in Columbus and heard them laugh at my comedy, so if I you planted me today, it would be with a smile. I’ve been very fortunate, as the opportunities for support in Columbus have developed as I’ve grown as a writer."
Columbus Children’s Choir Presents Fall Concert
Artistic director, Jeanne Wohlgamuth, takes the stage for the first time in her new role at the Columbus Children’s Choir (CCC) to open the organization’s 17th season. Novice and experienced singers in grades 3 – 12 from seven choirs will showcase their talents under the direction of Wohlgamuth and CCC’s five conductors: Cathy Armstrong; Jayne Wenner; Molly Rule; Sarah Santilli; and Lora Moore.
OSU Department of Theatre Presents The Arabian Nights
In ancient Baghdad, a clever maiden stays her execution by spinning enchanted tales of genies and jesters, lovers and thieves for the anxious king. Scheherazade’s imagination helps her to win the king’s heart even as she earns her freedom. Tony award-winning playwright Mary Zimmerman (Metamorphoses) celebrates the redemptive power of love and storytelling in The Arabian Nights.
Chamber Music Columbus Presents the Kronos Quartet
The San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet has been shattering preconceived notions about the string quartet genre for nearly 40 years. The ensemble’s bold, even defiant mission to perform exclusively new music has catalyzed the creation of an entire repertoire of new string quartet works by some of the world’s most innovative composers.