McMicken College of Arts & SciencesUniversity of Cincinnati

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Meet Britt Kennerly

'"Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.

Date: 8/15/2006
By: Britt Kennerly
Phone: (513) 556-8577
"Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out the window."

-- William Faulkner

I am lucky. I get to write for a living and sometimes, people don’t throw my work out the window.

Thankfully, I was a William Faulkner fan and aspiring writer long before one of my professors at Eastern Kentucky University suggested my flat "I's" wouldn’t help my chances in TV. I switched my major from broadcasting to communication, kept reading and journaling, and didn’t look back.

Here at McMicken, as assistant public information officer, I'll help publicize and celebrate the accomplishments of faculty, students and staff. It's a nice segue from the journalism world, where, over the past 20 years, I moved from freelancing for independent publications to life as a newspaper reporter/columnist/editor in Indiana, Arizona and Florida.

Every reporter I know is asked about their most memorable stories. Highlights for me include covering the 1993 presidential inauguration, arguing about a Demi Moore magazine cover with Annie Leibovitz, hitching a ride with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter in Winnipeg, and talking "Odd Couple" with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.

New A&S Advisors

Doug and Britt Kennerly

Most recently, at FLORIDA TODAY in Melbourne, Fla., I wrote about wildfires, hurricanes, car crashes, hurricanes, deaths at Disney World, Medicare Part D, and skyrocketing insurance and housing costs linked to – hurricanes!

The best stories, always, come from the people I meet simply by showing up and listening – often, people who think they have no story to tell.

Who couldn’t love the woman who saved more than a million buttons and glued them to a car, or Bill Hughey, who planted a garden by the window at his nursing home and tended his flowers and vegetables until he died? Just this spring, I wrote about Ella Gerrity, a 101-year-old woman whose apartment of 27 years was being converted to a condo she couldn’t afford. She packed her own china barrels and, with quiet grace, moved into a new apartment and the next phase of her long, lovely life.

My family chips in, too, working their way into years' worth of humor columns by being, well, my family. I've been married for 23 years to Doug Kennerly, a rock 'n' roll drummer and former juvenile probation officer. He edited my first freelance piece and every day, earns his place on the dedication page of the book I swear I'll finish.

One of my favorite and toughest critics is my friend and former editor, Carlos Harrison of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Carlos has said of me:

"There's a smile to her style. When Britt writes a piece, it reads like she’s pulled up a chair and leaned in close to tell it. She brings the characters to life so vividly that you can hear their voices in your ear, and see the places she’s talking about so clearly it feels like you’re standing there yourself.

"That's a hard thing to do. Harder still is letting every story speak in its own way. I was always amazed at how every one of Britt's stories was unique, yet every one had a distinct Britt feel about them … Of course, she'll bend your ear in person, too. Let her. It's worth it every time."

Stop by and introduce yourself. Let me get to know your department and we’ll go from there. I promise to keep the ear-bending to a minimum and the stories flowing.

As it turns out, I'm in the right place for someone who loves Faulkner. McMicken Hall, I've noticed, has plenty of windows.


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