Sometimes, an idea can be so arresting that, for a time at least, we care more about the fascinating nature of the idea than we do about its feasibility or reality. This was how I felt when I discovered that one man (and a few others before and after him) firmly believed that the Earth is “hollow and habitable within.” The idea of a concave inner world that was as yet unexplored captivated me initially, but in the end, it was the man who believed this theory so doggedly who captured my attention.

John Cleves Symmes Jr. lived 200 years or so ago; I discovered a monument in his honor in a park in Hamilton, Ohio, a small city north of Cincinnati. I first learned of it when I was surfing Atlas Obscura and went to check out the monument.

The monument stands in a really run-down park; the monument itself has been defaced and a forbidding fence has been erected around it to prevent further vandalism. On its top is a bronze model of the “Hollow Earth,” with the openings a little scalloped, like you could easily walk down the slope from the icy areas of Siberia into the lush interior of the Earth. No one in Hamilton really cares about this guy, as far as I can tell; no one really celebrates him, but the monument still hasn’t come down even 150 years later. More… “Hollow Words”

Laura Leavitt is a writer and teacher living in Ohio. She has written a variety of pieces about travel, young adulthood, and food culture, including pieces at The Hairpin and Roads and Kingdoms. She blogs about living a disorganized life at Messy Mapmaker.



Do poets believe in ghosts? — Sonja, Houston, Texas

I think so. Lots of poets write poems about ghosts, but I want to use a voice that I have neglected so far in this column:  Archy, from Don Marquis’ “Archy and Mehitabel” series which initially appeared in New York’s The Evening Sun in 1916. Archy is a cockroach, but in his former life he was a free verse poet, so let’s see what he has to say (he has to press the keys of a typewriter by jumping on each letter with the full thrust of his weight, so he can’t bother with punctuation and capitals, but cut him a break — he’s a cockroach).

you want to know whether I believe in ghosts of course I do not believe in them if you had known as… More…