Best of Columbus 2022: Saeed Jones, Craig Calcaterra and Other Standout Substack Writers

The online platform allows local scribes to share their unmediated thoughts in newsletter form.

Suzanne Goldsmith
Columbus Monthly
Saeed Jones in the Short North

First there was Blogger, then Medium, and now Substack: an online platform that allows individual writers to find an audience without having to sell their work to anybody but readers. The 5-year-old company claims over 1 million paid subscribers, although many writers offer some content for free.

For readers, it’s a chance to experience the unmediated thoughts of their favorite poet, sportswriter, investigative journalist or local curmudgeon. There are no ads, and it comes to your inbox in newsletter form. Here are a few substacks by Columbus-area writers.

The Rooster

D.J. Byrnes, a former Ohio House candidate from Franklinton and the person who broke the Urban Meyer lap dance story last fall, digs for dirt and casts a jaundiced eye on what he calls “the corrupt lizard cabal that controls Ohio’s local and state governments.”

A Cup of Coffee

Sports writer Craig Calcaterra, the author of the book “Rethinking Fandom,” excerpted in our May issue, posts baseball news five days a week, offering scores, commentary and a whimsical array of tangents that recently included his thoughts on medieval-era intrigue in the court of Spain.

Gerbig or Go Home

Upper Arlington writer, former teacher and triplet mom Jody Gerbig posts writing craft advice, commentary on parenting and random thoughts on such events as when her dog was skunked.

Werk-in-Progress

Poet and memoirist Saeed Jones shares his writing process in two-to-three-times-per-week posts where you can read, and listen to, draft poems, appreciation of other poets’ work and occasional pics of his dog, Caesar.

Stress Code

Ellyn Briggs, who first wrote about the need to abolish shame around mental illness in a letter to The New York Times at age 17, calls herself “an exceedingly anxious girl who finds comfort in using it as a lens to view the world.” Now 23, she writes for people who share that perspective.

Millennial Writer Life

Prince Shakur, 27, a queer, Jamaican American writer whose memoir was picked up by Hanif Abdurraqib for Tin House Books and comes out in the fall (see Shakur’s essay from our June issue), explores his journey as a young writer from a marginalized community and shares resources for other writers just starting out.

This story is from the July 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.