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Rosanne Cash Knows Her "Ischium" at a Literary Spelling Bee

For the fifth consecutive year, the Visual Thesaurus assisted the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses with its annual Spelling Bee supporting the work of independent literary publishers. As in past years, the VT supplied the words to challenge some of New York's leading literary lights, and this year singer-turned-memoirist Rosanne Cash emerged victorious.

Held at New York's Standard High Line Hotel, this year's Bee was delayed a few weeks due to Superstorm Sandy, but a dozen hardy spellers attended the rescheduled event. Competing this year were Jonathan Ames (Bored to Death), Jessica Anya Blau (The Wonder Bread Summer), Rosanne Cash (Composed: A Memoir), Bruce Feiler (Generation Freedom), Maria Dahvana Headley (Queen of Kings), Fiona Maazel (Woke Up Lonely), Patricia Marx (Starting From Happy), Bernice L. McFadden (Gather of Waters), Lauren Mechling (Dream Life), Sara Nelson (editorial director at, Elissa Schappell (Blueprints for Building Better Girls), and Darin Strauss (Half a Life).

The emcee was Ben Greenman (What He's Poised to Do), hanging up his Bee crown after having won twice, in 2009 and 2011. And as always, Oxford English Dictionary editor at large Jesse Sheidlower served as judge, quizzing the participants with words chosen from the results of the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee. Words got increasingly more difficult, based on the player data of the thousands of spellers who have played the VT Bee.

Contestants donned their Bee antlers and then were put to the test. As in past years, sacrilegious was a big stumper, this time taking out three spellers. At the end, it came down to Rosanne Cash and Patricia Marx. Cash ended up winning on the word ischium, defined as "one of the three sections of the hipbone, situated below the ilium." Impressively done! "I played Carnegie Hall and I wasn't this nervous," Cash quipped.

We're longtime fans of Cash, having interviewed her for the VT in 2007 about her experiences writing songs and writing prose. Congratulations to her, and to everyone who was courageous enough to participate!

CLMP Bee champion Rosanne Cash and her crown, with judge Jesse Sheidlower. Photo by Larisa Fuchs.

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Tuesday November 20th 2012, 3:36 AM
Comment by: Ckt Girl (Circuit Girl) (Silicon Valley, CA)
Fantasic job. Congratulations, we're so proud of you Rosanne, all over again! We love you, hun!

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Our interview with Rosanne Cash about the writing process.
Jonathan Burnham was the winner of the first ever CLMP Bee.
Ben Greenman won the first of his two CLMP Bee crowns in 2009.