I like words — in all forms: 

Penciled and penned.

Printed, cursived, typed, and letterpressed. 

Emailed, stamped, Scrabbled, recipe carded, tweeted, headlined.

 

And I like paper — for its feel and for the sound it makes when met with a writing instrument: raspy, percussive, whispery. I keep stationery — for its tactile pleasure and for the notes it could one day convey. 

 

Luckily for me, putting words to paper (or the digital equivalent) can be called a profession. 

 

I began my career as a reporter for The Detroit News, where my assignments took me from the political to the criminal to the comical and the tragic. My reporting sent a fraudulent baby broker to prison, recognized the quiet dedication of a man who raised pigeons in his garage, followed the acts of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, documented the lives lost in the crash of Northwest Flight 255 and chronicled the final days of downtown Detroit’s last great department store.

 

After a detour through corporate public relations and non-profit management, I became senior editor, then editor of Hour Detroit and Detroit Home magazines. During that time, I received honors for feature writing, reporting, and column writing.

 

Leaving magazines for freelance work allowed me to edit and co-write a book and teach basic reporting at my alma mater, Wayne State University, which named me Communications Alum of the Year in 2007. 

 

My affection for working with words is rooted in my family tree. Grandma did the crossword in ink. Mom stashed her poetry in a kitchen cupboard. Aunt Thelma read galley proofs of The Good Earth at boarding school. And before doing commercial art, Dad painted signs, his steady hand directing brushes of luscious paint into bold letters. At our family dinner table, the dictionary was a regular guest — a tradition that continued with my husband and son.

 

How many synonyms does it take to travel across dictionary pages from the word “black” to the word “white”? I’m not sure. But the gray area in between is worth exploring.

Photo by Steven Olinek

© 2014 Rebecca Powers. All rights reserved.

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