Front Row Center Newsletter from the Greater Columbus Arts Counsil
Poetic Prosperity
Tracy Z. Turner

“Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone.” – Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Scott Woods doesn’t let anyone walk into Writers’ Block, one of the city’s longest-running weekly poetry readings, unnoticed. The host of the event, himself a nationally recognized performance poet, he searches the faces of the sometimes standing-room only crowd at Kafe Kerouac about why they have come out, whether or not they write, and if so, if they intend to get up and read. He flirts, cajoles expats about their accents, prods white people about how many black friends they have, or engages people about what they do for a living in order to speculate about their woes. As he looks over the list of names of people who have signed up at the door, he calls people up to the stage and comes up with an impromptu introduction that doesn’t appear to be any less elaborate if he’s never met the poet than it is if he’s known him or her for years.

Woods’ willingness to ruminate about potentially uncomfortable things is ironically what brings a sense of home and ease to the room. The tone of the event veers into naughty, blue and boundary-pushing, but doesn’t stray from being inherently playful. Some of the readers are somber or introspective, some come bearing crass, punchy or musical words – a few of them are quite skillful, many others are green. With a minimum of around 30 people stepping up to the microphone every week, and all being welcomed, the dice-rolling quality of the evening is at the heart of its fun.

Writers’ Block began 18 summers ago at Snaps and Taps when “there were only two and a half readings happening in town,” says Woods, who co-founded the event with Vernell Bristow. Things have certainly changed.

“You can go out to poetry just about every night of the week in Columbus now,” says Ed Plunkett, poet who served as the committee chair for the Columbus Arts Festival’s Word is Art stage this year and last. “It’s very exciting – there are a lot of poets out there doing some pretty brave work.”

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Surge Columbus Artist Profile
Hannah Stephenson  Headshot poet, storyteller and blogger
Hannah Stephenson

As the most comprehensive online events guide and resource for arts and culture in central Ohio, offers a virtual guide through the Columbus art world with a searchable database of events, concerts, performances and more. is an engaging place for artists and arts organizations to share what they do, with thousands of users per month. The 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 artist profile series features interviews with some of the many talented individuals who make up central Ohio’s thriving creative community.

This month’s profile features Hannah Stephenson, founder of Paging Columbus and The Storialist. Stephenson is a poet, storyteller, and blogging lover living in Columbus, Ohio. She is a poetry blogger for The Huffington PostRecently,served as editor for The Ides of March: An Anthology of of Ohio Poets, and an author to her full-length collection,In the Kettle, the Shriek

“My life as an artist and my life as a human are completely intertwined; I am grateful for this. I feel extremely fortunate to know so many gifted and lovely writers (especially poets) here in Columbus.” – Hannah Stephenson 

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Sneak Peek

Chamber Music Columbus Presents the Jupiter String Quartet with James Dunham, Viola

The Artists-in-Residence of the University of Illinois will perform three Bs (Beethoven, Bartók and Brahms) on Saturday, October 4 at 8 p.m. at the Southern Theatre in collaboration with violist, James Dunham.

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BalletMet, Opera Columbus and Columbus Symphony Present Twisted: A Trio of Excellence

In an unprecedented collaboration, more than 200 artists from BalletMet, Opera Columbus and the Columbus Symphony and Chorus will join forces to open the 2014 - 2015 arts season. Celebrate the arts in Columbus with Twisted: a Trio of Excellence.

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Ohio Art League Presents One Night: Tribute

Inspired by the participation and support of the 600 and growing membership base, this year’s One Night theme is Tribute. This event allows the Ohio Art League and their sponsors to pay homage to those members and artists past, present and future.

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GCAC appreciates and acknowledges support from: City of Columbus, Franklin County and the Ohio Arts Council.

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Front Row Center provides an in-depth look into the creative individuals and organizations that make the Central Ohio arts and cultural community unique. Front Row Center features articles about local and national arts issues, profiles of creative professionals, previews of upcoming events and the inside scoop on what’s happening in the arts in Columbus. For complete submission guidelines please visit our Publications Page.