Lit Youngstown Turns 5!!!!!

Five years! It’s gone by in a flash. Let’s take a moment to celebrate all we’ve done together. And then let’s have a party!

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Jeffrey Murphy, Laura Grace Weldon, Jeanne Bryner & David Lee Garrison at the dedication of the Words Made Visible poetry-in-sidewalk squares

Since January of 2015 we have hosted nearly 400 writers, celebrating local talent and  visiting writers who have won prestigious awards. Local writers from age 6 to their 80s have shared poems and stories at open mics. (Photos: Mary Biddinger & Mary Quade, Lena Carson, Yahia Tahat, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Jimmy Sutman, Marjorie Maddox)

 

Hundreds of participants have learned about aspects of writing and publishing at workshops and classes taught by local teaching artists, and sessions at Winter Writing Camp and Fall Literary Festival.

Lit Youngstown partnered with the Public Library of Mahoning & Trumbull County to write a successful National Endowment for the Arts Big Read grant, and hosted 33 distinct activities culminating in a visit by author Luis Alberto Urrea, pictured here with local musicians the Labra Brothers. Only two Big Reads took place in Ohio this year, including ours! Reader non-writers have a place with us, too, with book discussions and readings such as Urrea’s, to a packed house.

We are grateful so many community partners have worked with us on projects and events, including the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Summer Festival of the Arts, JCC, YWCA, YNDC, Hubbard & Kinsman Public Libraries, Park Vista, Soap Gallery, McDonough Museum, YSU, UUYO, Purple Cat, Lake to River, WYSU, the National Council of Negro Women and many others. Our partners help us extend our reach and give us a chance to support the incredible work they are doing.

In addition, we’ve helped make a modest boost in the local economy by supporting local businesses whenever possible, and by bringing in state and federal grant money and writers who purchase meals and lodging while attending events such as the Fall Literary Festival.  (Photo: Fall Literary Festival dinner at the Hilton DoubleTree, photo credit Jill Christman)

cropped-jillchristman.jpgWords Made Visible engaged hundreds of writers and artists, culminating in poetry excerpts stamped in sidewalk squares at St. John’s Episcopal Church and by the Commerce Building downtown. (Photo credit: Melanie Buonavolonta & Ashley Dillon)

Many YSU undergraduate and graduate student interns have helped us develop and implement programs and materials, giving the students insights into running an arts nonprofit.

In addition, we have used the literary arts to foster discussions on healthy food access with food policy activist Mark Winne, whose research in Youngstown is featured in his latest book. Our oral history project Phenomenal Women: Twelve Youngstown Stories tells the stories of twelve African-American women in our community. Food for Thought book discussion has taken up themes of food, the American experience, and humankind and the natural world. And we learned about Youngstown’s literary ancestor, Michael McGovern, the Puddler Poet, whose labor poetry had a national following at the turn of the 20th century.

Thank you to everyone who had a presence in our first five years. It has really felt like the building of a community, and we are so grateful.

Turn the Page with us!

Please consider celebrating Lit Youngstown at 5 with a contribution to help keep us going strong. For donors of $50+ (or $5.00+ monthly installments), we have a special commemorative calendar with some of our favorite images from the last five years. Major donors of $500 and higher are listed on our website.

Please click here for more information on how to contribute by check, Paypal, credit card, monthly installment or via the Youngstown Foundation.

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From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for contributing any level of support. Mark your calendar for a big thank you party January 25! 

 

Executive Director Karen Schubert
Board of Directors: Elaine Arvan Andrews, Tricia D’Avignon, Tim Francisco,  Anne Garwig, Liz Hill, Courtney Kensinger, Nicole DiPiero, Nicole Robinson, Elizabeth Skeels, Penny Wells

Support Lit Youngstown with a Gift Today

P.S. Many people have told us they would have paid more for a class or event. We keep our pricing low to be as inclusive as possible, and your donation will help keep us going in these hard times. Thank you!

 

 

Food for Thought: The Overstory

This round of titles, we’ll be immersed in a theme of humankind and the natural world. The Overstory 67646395_1412675748870801_5716195961638748160_nearned Richard Powers a Pulitzer Prize in fiction, the committee describing the novel as “an ingeniously structured narrative that branches and canopies like the trees at the core of the story whose wonder and connectivity echo those of the humans living amongst them.”

Food for Thought book discussion will be hosted by our community partner Cultivate Co-op Cafe, 901 Elm St., on Wednesday, November 13, from 6:00-7:00 pm. If you would like to order a bite to eat, please arrive well before the counter closes at 6:00. All books are available through the YSU Maag or public library systems, and at the YSU Barnes & Noble. Haven’t read the book yet? No worries. Join us.

December 11 (Poetry) Oceanic by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
January 8 (Fiction, Short Stories) For a Little While by Rick Bass
February 12 (Nonfiction) The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells
March 11 (Fiction, Novel) Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
April 8 (Nonfiction) The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health by David R. Montgomery & Anne Biklé
May 13 (Nonfiction) Bringing Nature Home by Douglas Tallamy

Nacho Missable Reading

Yo, Yo-Towners! Join us for a reading by Pamela Anderson & Steve Thomas. Open mic to follow, emceed by Beth Franklin. We will also be celebrating National Nachos Day. Wednesday, November 6 at 7:00, Soap Gallery, 117 S. Champion St.

Pam 2017 Head ShotPam Anderson has an MFA from the NEOMFA, which also awarded her a Bisbee Fellowship. Much of her writing focuses on the Holocaust, with one of her Holocaust poems receiving an AWP Intro Journals award. Her work has appeared in JennyMag.org, Atticus Review, Mason’s Road, The Listening Eye, Whurk, and elsewhere.

 

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Steve Thomas is the author of The Strength of Flowers (Crisis Chronicles Press 2018), and his poems have been published in The Mill and the Hessler Street Fair Anthology. His goal is to achieve the harmony through writing poetry that he displayed as a professional bowler.

Congratulations, Short Short Fiction Winners!

We received many fine entries, and a big thank you to all of the writers who sent work our way. Thanks also to judges Anne Garwig, Liz Hill, Erin Phemester & Taylor Swan.

Congratulations to Open Contest Winner, “The Rickshaw Ride” by Marlene H. Mikan of Canfield and Runner-up, “Water Torture” by R.W. Franklin of Boardman. NEA Big Read

Teen Contest Winner, “A Gerbil, a Stepmom and a Second Chance” by India Gatts of Austintown and Runner-up, “Love’s Cliff” by Jordan A. Mccusker of New Springfield.

Marlene H. Mikan, R.W. Franklin and Jordan A. Mccusker will read Saturday, October 5 at 7:00, before Fall Literary Festival keynote speaker George Ella Lyon. India Gatts will read Friday, October 4 at 7:00 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, before Erica Cardwell and Philip Metres.

NEA Big Read Book Talk, Potluck & Stories Sept. 17

urrea_northWe are so excited to invite you to the official kick-off of our NEA Big Read! Many thanks to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown for being wonderful hosts. Please bring a food or drink to share, and join us at this free event. If you haven’t yet read the book, don’t worry. If you have, we look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.

We are thrilled to welcome the Wick Poetry Center to talk about some of their incredible work in the community, using poetry to create bridges of understanding. And profound thank you to our international friends for sharing their stories. Continue reading

October First Wednesday Features Cleveland Writers

Hope to see you at our October reading, featuring E.F. Schraeder & Michelle R. Smith. Wednesday October 2 at 7:00 at the Soap Gallery, 117 S.Champion St. Open mic to follow, emceed by Christopher Lesko. In honor of World Farm Animals Day, we invite you to bring a vegan food to share if you feel so inspired.

 

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Ethicist, poet, and speculative fiction writer E. F. Schraeder holds an interdisciplinary doctorate emphasizing applied ethics and social justice issues. Dr. Schraeder has taught widely in gender studies, humanities, and philosophy, and has also worked in the nonprofit sector, fundraising for grassroots organizations. Schraeder serves as a sometimes-contributing editor at an animal advocacy webcomic and facilitates writing workshops.

Michelle R. Smith is a writer, educator, cultural facilitator, and niche writing entrepreneur. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals, anthologies and other venues.

Summer in America

Sarah Davis took a break during her summer internship for Lit Youngstown to be a counselor in the Summer in America program at Youngstown State. We asked her to tell us about her experiences.

Summer in America, a program hosted by Youngstown State University’s International Programs Office, was held from July 12th to August 2nd, 2019 and invited students from other countries to live on campus and experience life in the United States. This year, the program saw an increase in participants from 14 to 68 students and faculty members from China and Taiwan. My time with Summer in America is one that I will truly never forget I got to meet a lot of students who I really connected and became friends with that I will miss dearly. Continue reading

Thoughts on Pursuing an MFA

Sometimes in a workshop or other setting, a writer will bring up the question of the MFA, Master of Fine Arts, in creative writing. It’s a big commitment of time, and often, money, so we asked our intern Sarah Davis to share some thoughts with us about her experience in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts (NEOMFA).

One of the questions I’ve received the most while working towards my MFA is “what are you going to do when you finish school.” But for me, it’s not as much about what I’m going to do after as it is with what I’m doing now. I have found great value in pursuing my MFA in creative writing as it has allowed me to expand my craft and knowledge of the creative writing world. Continue reading