Em-dash Lady reads “Hans Hoffman’s House” by Kelle Groom

At night, for the first time in years, I hear the ocean when the tide rises. It’s all I can do not to walk into that darkness to meet it.” -Kelle Groom, “Hans Hoffman’s House,” Brevity, May 2014



Brevitymag.com offers short creative nonfiction from new and established literary writers.  “Literary” writing generally refers to character-driven stories, poetry, and creative nonfiction as opposed to that that’s plot-based.  Some people like literary fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, and some do not.  Many prefer what’s come to be known as “genre” fiction–your thrillers, mysteries, romances, and so forth.  That’s not to say that a literary work can’t also be thrilling or include a love story, but that’s generally not the reason people gravitate toward the work.  They gravitate to it because they really want to feel, and that’s the best way I can describe it.

Literary writing can be funny.  It can be heavy.  It’s usually layered with themes rather than morals or lessons.  It’s humble in its beauty and truth.

Kelle Groom is, to me, a poet first and a memoir writer second, only because that’s the order in which I’ve read her work.  Underwater City was the first book of hers that I read, and since then she’s written two more books of poetry (Luckily and Five Kingdoms) and the critically-renowned memoir I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl.

Then, there’s this gem from Brevity, “Hans Hoffman’s House.”

Why am I featuring this piece and this online journal on my art-across-genres blog?

Because it’s a great place to start, full of imagery.  We’ve got imagery from all five senses here, from the view of the water to the feel of bare feet against what I imagine to be a hardwood floor as she counts the steps from wall to wall.

Art is about conveying all five senses.  It’s about experiencing and feeling without, well, experiencing and feeling something physically.  It’s about visceral feelings and the emotions conveyed by them.  It’s about memory.

That’s what’s beautiful about this short piece.  Not only does it convey emotion, but it does so in a poetic way, breaking conventional guidelines of grammar.

And for Em-dash Lady, in this case, that’s okay.

Please read this.  It will take five minutes.  It will make your day better.


*Groom and I were fellow graduate students at one time and once I waited with her at the top of an airport parking garage for AAA to arrive.


Em-dash Lady Explains Her Name

What’s an em-dash?  This is an answer I know.  In non-technical terms, an em-dash shows an interruption in a sentence.  Em-dashes are used a lot like parentheses except that they’re more directly related to the subject of the sentence.  Essentially, they are little, mid-sentence interruptions.

The more we read, the more we sense the rhythms of how em-dashes, parentheses, and commas are used.  Tom Wolfe loves em-dashes.

An em-dash is made by placing two dashes side-by-side (–).  There shouldn’t be any space between the two words on either side of the em-dash (Popsicle–chocolate cake).  In Microsoft word, once you press the space bar after the first word after the em-dash is complete, the two dashes will magically turn into one long line, longer than a regular dash, such as the one in the middle of my name.

The em-dash was named for being about the length of a lowercase “m,” but now they tend to be longer than that.

Why did I name myself Em-dash Lady?  First, it’s a hot piece of punctuation.  Second, I’m a classy lady.  So that’s that.

For more info and a more technical explanation of the length/width of an “em,” I give you the good ol’ Wikipedia entry.  Now, I won’t always show Wikipedia research, of course, but in this case the site offers a useful explanation.


All the best,

Em-dash Lady

Em-dash Lady Welcomes You to Creatively Think

This blog invites you to think creatively, especially about art, but not just one discipline.  While the focus will be on writing, Em-dash Lady will take you through art across genres and explore how the brain works while doing so.

I am Em-dash Lady.  I am no expert, though I do hold an MFA in creative writing.  I want to learn while writing this blog.  I want to learn how caffeine affects my productivity.  I want to learn how writing influences visual art and vice-versa.  I want to learn how to write a music review with true criteria that at least sounds like I know what I’m talking about.

Even though I’m out of school and teaching others as my day job, I want to learn.  I want to learn with you.

That’s what this blog is all about.  I hope you’ll take on these adventures with me, share your own knowledge, and that we’ll even break into territory that we don’t currently know much about.  Of course, I hope you’ll enjoy this blog, and I know I’ll enjoy writing, posting videos, pictures, and links to research.  Where better than a blog to do these things?

I’m looking forward to sharing this learning experience with you.


All the best,

Em-dash Lady