WordPlay Cincy mural features writers and a typewriter

by | Sep 19, 2021 | WordPlay | 5 comments

WordPlay Cincy, the nonprofit for which I’ve volunteered as Typewriter Guy since 2012, is moving into a much bigger building in the same Cincinnati neighborhood (Northside). This will allow the organization to evolve from offering after-school writing programs to becoming a more full-fledged community center. 
Their old location used to feature an impressive mural by Shepard Fairey, featuring the Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi (she later became State Counsellor of Myanmar, and was widely criticized for countenancing the genocidal persecution of the Rohingya minority).

So of course the new building deserves a mural, too. This one was designed by local artist Brandon Hawkins and painted by students. I was pleased to see that it features a typewriter.

 To the right are seven inspiring writers. Starting at the top and going clockwise, they are: 

Amanda Gorman, the 23-year old who was the first National Youth Poet Laureate and who recited a poem at Pres. Biden’s inauguration:

Writer James Baldwin, shown here with his Olympia SM7:

Joy Harjo, current US Poet Laureate and member of the Muscogee Nation:

Nikki Giovanni (center), poet who grew up in Cincinnati (her tombstone awaits her a short walk away from my house, in Cincinnati’s Spring Grove Cemetery). Here she is with her electric Smith-Corona:

Paul Laurence Dunbar, pioneering African-American poet from nearby Dayton, Ohio, most famous for the line “I know why the caged bird sings”: 
Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Mary Oliver:

Mexican-American novelist Sandra Cisneros (shown here with her 1930s Underwood Universal):

According to a fundraiser, “For the second phase of the mural, WordPlay and local collaborators and artists will design and install accessible, tactile elements from the ground to approximately 5′ high for the blind and visually impaired to interact with the subject matter expressed in the 2-D painting throughout. Those elements will include Braille plates with information about the individuals and student writing depicted in the mural, 3-D ceramic pieces and other unique, inclusive and interactive installments.”

I have to ask: Will there be a typewriter? 


  1. Robert Messenger

    The new mural looks great, tying everything in with the typewriter. Hats off to WordPlay.

  2. Bill M

    That's a wonderful mural. I couldn't help notice it comes complete with 3-D fire extinguishers.

  3. Rob Bowker

    This is great news. I don't recognise the new authors apart from the young lady who spoke at Mr Biden's inauguration – stirring stuff.

  4. Mark

    I got to take a poetry class taught by Nikki and it was fantastic fun.


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