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And the winner is … Christopher Bohinski!
Bohinski, a 2013 graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University, has won the nationally-televised “Look What I Can Do” contest on NBC’s “The Today Show.”
Bohinski and two other finalists participated in a live “Today” television segment on July 19 and performed their special “talents.” The three finalists returned to the “Today” set the next day. Before the live audience, Bohinski was declared the winner as the result of a day’s worth of online voting.
To qualify for the contest, Bohinski submitted a video of himself using his singing voice to break a glass — a talent he learned while attending Wheeling Jesuit. During the July 19 live appearance, he tried to duplicate the feat. He was unsuccessful in the attempt, which some attributed to atmospheric conditions or the size of the broadcast studio.
However, when he and his mother — who had accompanied him to the NBC headquarters — returned to his New Jersey apartment, he tried the stunt again with his mom recording the attempt. That time, standing in the doorway of the bathroom, Bohinski succeeded again in shattering a glass by singing. Bohinski posted the video online and encouraged friends to vote for him in the contest.
That video also was shown on “Today” on July 20, just before Bohinski was announced as the winner.
The contest prize is an all-expense-paid trip for two to Los Angeles, where he will get to see a live taping of “America’s Got Talent.” He plans to take his mother along for the West Coast adventure.
At “The Today Show” studio, Bohinski got to meet actor Kevin Bacon, country singer Craig Campbell, actress Mila Kunis and Christian band Needtobreathe.
“Not only was it my live national television debut, but along with getting interviewed by Hoda Kotb and Carson Daly, I was interviewed by a former president’s daughter, Jenna Bush. That’s was pretty exciting,”Bohinski told a WJU official after the appearance.
Bohinski, who is pursuing a performing career in New York, also said he was happy that “The Today Show” noted he was a graduate of Wheeling Jesuit.
It may surprise some people, but it’s true that a poetry reading in Wheeling attracted a standing-room-only audience Wednesday evening.
Hosted by West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman, Wheeling Heritage’s spoken word series featured the poetry of Ohio Valley native Jacob Strautmann and his partner, Valerie Duff. The event was held at the First State Capitol Building, where a meeting room was filled to capacity for the reading.
Strautmann, a graduate of Cameron High School and Wheeling Jesuit University, earned a master’s degree from Boston University, where he now teaches creative writing.
He also is the managing director of Boston Playwrights’ Theatre.
For the Wheeling appearance, Strautmann read Ohio Valley-related poems from his newly-completed manuscript, “The Land of the Dead is Open for Business.”
Harshman and Strautmann then read several of Duff’s poems, including selections from her new collection, “Folk Magic.” Duff was present at the event, but did not read because she is recuperating from recent surgery. She is the poetry editor of Salamander, a magazine for poetry, fiction and memoirs.
On the subject of poetry, area residents have two opportunities on Aug. 9 to meet and hear poet Ace Boggess. He will appear at noon at the Ohio County Public Library, 52 16th St., Wheeling, for a Lunch With Books program offered through the Wheeling Poetry Series organized by Harshman. Then, at 7 p.m., Boggess will present a poetry reading at the Unity Center, 2314 Chapline St., Wheeling.
Boggess’ personal story of recovery will resonate with many members of the community. According to a feature article published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Boggess — a law school graduate and widely published poet — was a drug addict when he broke into a pharmacy to steal Oxycontin in 2006. After pleading guilty to first-degree robbery, he served five years in prison. While incarcerated, Boggess got clean and wrote a volume of poetry, “The Prisoners.”
The volume of poetry was published in 2014. Boggess, who continues in recovery, resides in Charleston.
Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@the intelligencer.net.