"the only way to be quiet is to be quick, so I scare you clumsily, or surprise you with a stab." — Frank O'Hara
Ennis SmithAbout

Ennis grew up in Cincinnati, the sixth of ten children. In his first life he was an actor and singer; embarking on his second, he completed his BA at Empire State College, where he was a Richard Porter Leach Fellow.

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Latest Publication

Creative Nonfiction cover 2014-10-16 at 1.19.36 PM copy

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Architecture, Art, Film, Museums/Galleries

Haunted Art

How apt that the red barn on top of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is called Transitional Object. It’s a term psychologists use to describe that which weans us away from, while providing the comfort of the original—think pacifier, though such objects might also be defined as props used to test reality. Could the same…

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The Price of Peace

We’ve all experienced it. Call it a return from idleness, or simply the end of vacation, an experience as brutal as any to occur in the course of a year. Some of us feel the letdown upon return to work, or when a cascade of held mail tumbles from our post boxes. I knew it…

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Serra 1

View to a thrill

Don’t call Richard Serra’s sculptures “minimalist.” For anyone who’s had a close encounter with his work in the past decade, labeling his burnt copper monuments as such feels useless. And untrue. For me, his recent exhibitions (I’m thinking of that astounding 2007 MOMA show, but also his long-term installation at the Dia: Beacon, certainly worth…

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Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 7.41.08 PM
History, Politics, Religion, Theater

Secrets and Lies in Old Salem

Contrary to what the cynics among us might think, revivals of plays and musicals exist not only to bring in theatergoers desperate for the tried and true. Successful ones rely on a confluence of factors: a director (Ivo van Hove, who, evidenced by this current theater season, should now be allowed to direct everything—everyone else,…

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Walker Psycho2
New York, Theater

Tony Casualties

Musicals, when they work, are the holy grail of catharsis. A good one creates a kind of dream that’s a bit like falling in love. It just…works. A world unfolds with a kind of inevitability that defy questions or puzzlement. No one feels manipulated. When you’re watching the right one, it’s like a pilgrimage to…

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Borrowed Thought

I am Trying to Break Your Heart I am hoping to hang your head   on my wall in shame—   the slightest taxidermy thrills me. Fish   forever leaping on the living-room wall—   paperweights made from skulls   of small animals. I want to wear   your smile on my sleeve & break…

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prince in lace
Music, Theater

Prince Power

Back in the day he’d been on the edge of my consciousness, what with music for Purple Rain and Batman (that soundtrack’s “The Arms of Orion” duet with Sheena Easton is, note for note, a delectably romantic morsel of pop craftsmanship); aside from those, I owned approximately one other Prince album (Lovesexy), but I still…

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Merle Haggard
Music, Vespers

Merle Haggard 1937-2016

There’s a lot of new ground being broken in what we used to call country music.  Lately I’ve been listening to Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell mine that primal place where voice and longing collide. I’m impressed they’ve found something fresh and contemporary in the form; it’s no longer necessary to be a hillbilly (or a…

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Drip whites

Borrowed thought

Fill yourself up with the forsythias and when the lilacs flower, stir them in too with your blood and happiness and wretchedness, the dark ground that seems to come with you. Sluggish days. All obstacles overcome. And if you say: ending or beginning, who knows, then maybe—just maybe—the hours will carry you into June, when…

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Hadid staircase
Architecture, Museums/Galleries, Vespers

Zaha Hadid 1950-2016, Architect

It’s been almost 13 years since luck brought me back to my Cincinnati hometown the exact weekend that Zaha Hadid’s new Contemporary Arts Center (or for those who are sticklers for naming rights, the Rosenthal Center) opened. In a downtown poised to transition from near dilapidation, Hadid’s striking building was a harbinger of what the…

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