Food for Thought: Famous Drownings in Literary History

haworth famous

Wednesday December 13, 6:00-7:00, Cultivate Co-op Cafe, 901 Elm St.

We continue our exploration of the rich diversity of the American experience with this collection of essays on Judaism in contemporary America, Famous Drownings in Literary History. Author Kevin Haworth read with Steve Reese in November, in our First Wednesday Readers Series.

If you wish to order dinner at Cultivate, please arrive well before the kitchen closes at 6:00. We thank Cultivate for staying open late to host our discussion.

The rest of the titles in this series are listed here.

This book may be a bit tricky to access, as the press’s own online market is down just now. There are no public library copies available. The university library system has one copy via Ohio University.

Amazon is offering a Kindle version for $4.99.

If you attended Kevin’s reading and are willing to loan your book to another reader, please send us a message:

Those of us who attended Kevin’s reading loved it, and the book has received high praise from reviewers and book critics. Here is a review in the Chicago Tribune.

If you haven’t read the book, and would like to join in the discussion, please come.


On the Road with Phenomenal Women

It was a great privilege to take our oral history project, Phenomenal Women: Twelve Youngstown Stories, to Arkansas in early November.


At the inaugural C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference at the University of Central Arkansas, we were included on a panel of presenters from Indiana, Nebraska and Ohio. The focus of our talk was the ways that literary arts might be used give a voice to women and girls, to create bridges of understanding, healing, and empowerment. Audience members asked several questions about our project.

2. Reaching Out: Organizations and Institutions Using Literary Arts as Outreach with Women and Girls
(Karen Schubert, Janine Harrison, Laura Madeline Wiseman, and Colleen Wells)
Location: Art Lecture Hall, McCastlain Hall
The literary arts are a means for giving voice to women and girls. This panel will discuss several outreach writing projects dealing with such themes as writing resistance to violence; therapy and trauma; empowerment and connection; and bridging gulfs in sociohistorical experience. From readings to roundtables to workshops to oral histories, presenters will expand on the power of the literary arts to create a space for women and girls.

The conference was named for C.D. Wright, a celebrated poet from Arkansas.

ft smith From there, we presented at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, under the invitation of Professor Christian Anton Gerard. Three Fort Smith students performed the Phenomenal Women staged reading.

staged reading ft smith



Even though the details of the stories in Phenomenal Women are specific to Youngstown, they are well received wherever we take them. The themes of love, loss, work, family, struggle, change and hope are universal, and the poignant, tender and funny storytelling is powerful.



Words Made Visible/Silence is Golden

More congratulations! These Words Made Visible poems were selected by YSU digital silence is goldenmedia students for Silence is Golden.

“Crows” by Neil Carpathios
“Mal du Siècle” by Riley Gable
“My Great Great Grandmother” by Craig Paulenich
“Sky Opens” by Robert Smith
“Ten O’ Clock, The Day Already Threatening” by Kari Gunter-Seymour
“Why the Window Washer Reads Poetry” by Laura Grace Weldon
“Wanting Snow in August” by Michael Levan
“Winter Aubade” by Riley Gable

November 1 at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts, we enjoyed Silence is Golden, a multimedia performance by YSU art department students, responding to poems and stories from the Words Made Visible visual literary-visual arts collaboration. Local musicians improvised a soundtrack to the digital projects.

First Wednesday Features NEOMFA Writers

NEOMFA reunion reading Wednesday December 6! Join us for a reading of three Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts writers. Open mic to follow, emceed by Kayla Jeswald. The Soap Gallery, 117 S. Champion St. Doors open at 7:15, reading begins at 7:30.

Chris Alonso

Christopher R. Alonso was born and raised in Miami, FL. He is a writer, editor, flamenco dancer, and pianist. He is currently in his final year at the Northeast Ohio MFA program.


William R. Soldan grew up in and around Youngstown, Ohio, with brief stints in Columbus, Milwaukee, and the hills of southern Oregon. He holds a BA in English Literature from Youngstown State University and an MFA from the Northeast Obill_soldanhio Master of Fine Arts program. His work appears in publications such as New World Writing, Kentucky Review, Gordon Square Review, (b)OINK, Elm Leaves Journal, Anomaly Literary Journal, The Best American Mystery Stories 2017, Ohio’s Best Emerging Poets Anthology, and others. Currently he works as a trainer in a gym and teaches writing workshops in Youngstown, where he lives with his wife, community activist Rebecca Soldan, and their two children.


Sara Tracey is from Akron, Ohio. She is the author of Some Kind of Shelter (Misty Publications, 2013) and the chapbook Flood Year (dancing girl press, 2009). Sara graduated from the NEOMFA in 2007 and received her PhD in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2015.

Food for Thought: The Round House

round houseWe continue our exploration of the rich diversity of the American experience with this National Book Award winner set on the Ojibwe reservation in contemporary North Dakota.

Wednesday, November 8, 6:00-7:00, Cultivate Cafe, 901 Elm St.

If you wish to order dinner at Cultivate, please arrive well before the kitchen closes at 6:00. We thank Cultivate for staying open late to host our discussion.

Read a New York Times review of The Round House here.  The rest of the titles in this series are listed here. Please note that the author of our December title will be a First Wednesday reader Wednesday November 1, 7:15, at The Soap Gallery, 117 S. Champion St.

Looking Forward, Looking Back

Dear Friend of Lit Youngstown,

As we close out our third year, let’s take stock of all the fun we had in 2017.

Looking Back


We opened the year as presenters at the prestigious AWP Writing Conference in Washington D.C. in February. Our panel discussed literary arts outreach into the community, and our co-panelists were other Great Lakes literary arts centers including the Wick Poetry Center in Kent and Literary Cleveland. We talked about our  Phenomenal Women:Twelve Youngstown Stories oral history project, and about what a pleasure it was to meet and hear the stories of these women in our community.

The First Wednesday Readers Series helped to put our city on the literary map, bringing DSC_0610in visiting writers and giving our own authors a venue to share their work. Many readings were followed by an open mic, and courageous writers aged twelve to seventy read their poems and stories. We loved our open mic emcees, too!

First Wednesday 2017 featured faculty from The Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts, Chatham University and Carlow University, as well as YSU student essayists, and poets and writers from Youngstown, Erie, North Carolina and Tennessee. Nin Andrews read poems inspired by her childhood in Virginia, J. Everett Prewitt read from his novel set in Vietnam, and Lori Jakiela had us laughing at the trials of being a flight attendant.

In April, with many community partners, we hosted nationally recognized food policy author Mark Winne from New Mexico, who gave a reading and led a workshop on nutritious food access in low income neighborhoods.

yWe were also invited into the community, where we read original work at the Women Artist’s Show at the YWCA, contemporary Scottish poems at Opera Western Reserve’s Highland Fling, and modernist works at the McDonough Museum’s Salon de Fleurus, a recreation of Gertrude Stein’s Parisian salon. In April, we brought Phenomenal Women to Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, where three African-American students performed the staged reading.

For a second year, our collaboration with Selah Dessert Theater, The Strand Project, sold out. This staged production of original dramatic monologues featured many local actors, some new to the stage, performing the work of writers from the Valley and beyond.

Our Food for Thought Book Club completed a food-themed book series and coldest night1began a series on the American experience, including The Coldest Night by visiting writer Robert Olmstead, about a young American who lies about his age to get into the military, and ends up in the Korean War.

We also offered workshops on writing. Topics included strengthening voice in fiction writing, setting stories in a post-industrial landscape, and editing. This fall, we were invited to teach a series of memoir workshops at the Boardman Library.

Partnering with St. John’s Episcopal Church, the Public Library of Youngstown & the Mahoning Valley, and the McDonough Museum of Art, we kicked off the annual Fall Literary Festival, with a stellar faculty including NEA and Guggenheim fellows Denise Duhamel and Robert Olmstead, Ohioana poet Nin Andrews, poet-editors Susana H. Case and Margo Taft Stever, and beloved local writers Kelly Bancroft and William Soldan.

Highlights of the Festival: The sessions where I could write and/or work on my writing. The fellowship. The cake. The McDonough. The chapel.

We will bookend the year as presenters at the C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference at the University of Arkansas-Conway in November, joining other literary arts organizations working with women in the community, and talking about Phenomenal Women: Twelve Youngstown Stories.

It was a busy and transitional year for Lit Youngstown’s Board of Directors, as well. We thanked Debra Weaver, Melissa Papini and Kris Harrington light lizas they went on to other adventures. Founding co-director Liz Hill departed Youngstown for lovely Lake Chapala, Mexico. We welcomed in Nicole Robinson, Anne Garwig, Stacey Schneider, Ginny Taylor and Kelly Bancroft. The newest members join Davita Fitzgerald, Molly Toth, Sean Posey and William Soldan in a congenial, hard-working governing body with many talents and interests.

DSC_0566The hundreds of people working with us—visiting writers, teaching artists, workshop participants, board members, YSU interns, audience members, funders and volunteers—help us make Lit Youngstown a community.

We are busy planning for 2018!

Looking Forward

And we are looking forward. The 2018 First Wednesday Readers Series is ready to go, with novelists, short story writers and poets from as far away as Arkansas and Maryland. We are also adding a storytelling night, world poetry night, and the staged reading of an original play.

The Strand Project will continue in its third year; submissions for dramatic monologues are due in November.

Our workshop series will continue, with a variety of topics taught by experienced teaching artists, held throughout the year.

Food for Thought Book Club will continue to meet each month until summer, taking up round housevarying points of view in the American experience. We’ll read March, Rep. John Lewis’s graphic novel trilogy on The Civil Rights Movement, historical novel Blacksnake’s Path: The True Adventures of William Wells by visiting writer William Heath, and the memoir My Own Country by physician Dr. Abraham Verghese.

Planning for our 2018 Fall Literary Festival, September 22, is underway. We will bring in Literary Festival Logo Designan NEA-fellow poet, a veteran-surgeon memoirist, a Kenneth Patchen scholar and an attorney-writer, among others, who will offer readings, craft talks and sessions on building an author website, legal aspects of publishing, and our literary ancestor.

And we’ll again partner with St. John’s and the Public Library for our first Winter Writing Camp, Saturday, February 24, which will feature sessions for writers and readers of all ages.

Thank you for your support!

With the exception of our new bookkeeper, we are an all-volunteer operation. We are the grateful recipients of grants from The Nathalie & James Andrews Foundation, The Raymond J. Wean Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council and the Summer Festival of the Arts, and we will continue to pursue competitive grant funding. But we couldn’t make it work without you!

No gift is too small. There are nearly 1000 people on our email list, and if each sent us DSC_0565just $5.00 dollars, we’d be sailing into the new year. All contributors will be entered into a drawing for a bundle of Fall Literary Festival author books. We’ll deliver or ship them.

Your gift is tax deductible and so appreciated.

To send a check, please address Lit Youngstown and mail to P.O. Box 804/Youngstown/44501.

Click the Make A Donation button below to donate via PayPal. Include your email in the Instructions line.

Thank you, as always.

Write on,
Karen Schubert, Director