"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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Film, Television, Theater, Vespers

Patty Duke 1946-2016, Ken Howard 1944-2016

For us union performers, the names Ken Howard and Patty Duke were synonymous with leadership; both served as president of the Screen Actors Guild at pivotal transition times. Duke famously took over the reins from William Schallert, a case of TV-bred nepotism (Schallert played Duke’s character’s father and uncle). More recently Howard shepherded the merger…

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Art, Criticals, Museums/Galleries

Heavenly Rests

Want to know what it’s like to live inside a dream? The installation art of Do Ho Suh provides a lovely metaphor for the ways we carry our notions of home and hearth, and how a place, or even a country, imprints until it becomes part of us. Suh recreates these totems most strikingly in…

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