Lit Youngstown is a literary arts nonprofit founded in 2015 by Karen Schubert, Liz Hill and a small committee of community members, to promote the literary arts in the Mahoning Valley. To that end, we developed several ongoing programs and have engaged thousands of writers and readers in Ohio and the Eastern U.S.
The First Wednesday Readers Series features published writers and an open mic, and writing workshops focus on many aspects of writing and publishing. Food for Thought book discussion is centered around such themes as The American Experience, Humankind and the Natural World, and Black Authors. Teen Writers Workshop meets monthly, as does the Writers Circle Critique Group.
The February Winter Writing Camp is a multi-generational day of writing and music hosted by St. John’s Episcopal Church and the main library. The free event includes sessions for children aged five and up, and a variety of workshops and activities for teens and adults.
Fall Literary Festival is a high-quality conference of award-winning writers and dozens of concurrent sessions on writing, reading, analyzing, editing, publishing and performing creative work. Daytime sessions take place at Youngstown State and evening readings, free and open to the public, in downtown venues.
Unique events include Words Made Visible, a project that solicited Ohio poets, and from hundreds of submissions created visual works such as drawing, painting, ceramics and multimedia by YSU art students; graphically-designed posters; hand-letterpressed broadsides and poems stamped in sidewalks downtown. The New Book News reading series for books published during the pandemic lockdown featured 70 poets and writers from throughout the U.S.
Lit Youngstown has also collaborated with
- YSU Summer Festival of the Arts on a poetry contest, printing the winning poem on 1000 totes offered to festival attendees
- Jewish Community Center, hosting readings in the Thomases Art Gallery
- YWCA on Slice of Life, an evening of storytelling and desserts that raised money for the children’s library
- Purple Cat, writing poetry with adults with disabilities
- YSU Writing Center, featuring student essayists at readings
- National Council of Negro Women Youngstown Chapter on Phenomenal Women, an oral history project culminating in a book of stories about twelve local women
- local agencies and activists to bring in food policy author Mark Winne
- McDonough Museum, leading ekphrastic workshops
- Public Library of Youngstown & the Mahoning Valley on the NEA Big Read, with dozens of events related to themes in In the Beautiful North, including an author visit by Luis Albert Urrea
- YSU Art Department, to create a 180×20’ memory mural on Andrews Avenue
- Akron Children’s Hospital, leading writing workshops for teens
- Yellow Brick Place, developing writing groups for cancer survivors
Staff & Board of Directors
Karen Schubert, Co-Founding Director, earned an M.A. in English from YSU and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts. She is the author of six poetry collections and has taught in numerous academic and community settings.
Cassandra Lawton, Outreach Coordinator, is a student in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts program. She received her bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Studies and her master’s in Social Work from Michigan State University. Her career goal is to bring creative writing and its healing effects into therapeutic and community spaces, with a focus on expressive therapy and community outreach.
Lit Youngstown’s Board of Directors:
Nin Andrews is the author of fourteen poetry collections; she has won numerous awards including two Ohio individual artist grants and the Ohioana 2016 Award for poetry.
Tricia D’Avignon (Chair) (2019) received her Bachelor of Fine Arts emphasis in Photography from Youngstown State University and her Masters in Urban Planning Design and Development from Cleveland State University. Currently, she works locally as an urban planner.
Liz Hill (Co-Founder, Co-Treasurer) (2015) is a writer and spiritual director who has led workshops in creative process, discovering authentic voice, storytelling, and un-journaling. She has a masters in non-profit management from Regis University, and has held leadership positions in a number of book-related non-profits in her previous home, Denver Colorado.
Anthony L. Manna, Ph.D. (2020) is a retired professor from Kent State University where he taught children’s literature, young adult literature, writing, and educational drama and served as a co-director of Kent State’s National Writing Project.
Reaghan McCann (Co-Treasurer) (2020) received their B.S.A.S. in Hospitality Management from Youngstown State University in 2018 as well as a certificate in Nonprofit Leadership. They are currently pursuing their M.L.I.S. in Museum Studies at Kent State University with hopes of conducting research and teaching about objects through inquiry.
Tommy Mihalopoulos (NEOMFA, 2020) holds a bachelor’s of science in Chemistry and English with a creative writing emphasis from Allegheny College. At Allegheny he completed a thesis in creative nonfiction titled, Distillations: Essays on Science and Singularity in the Self as well as a thesis in organometallic chemistry.
Nicole Robinson’s (2016) received an Individual Excellence Award for poetry from the Ohio Arts Council and has over ten years of experience leading poetry and creative writing workshops in shelters, hospitals, prisons, and other community organizations. She is currently the Narrative Medicine Coordinator at Akron Children’s Hospital where she leads workshops for children, families, and staff.
Joshua Nauman (2020) is a graduate of Youngstown State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Professional and Technical Writing. He is currently pursuing an M.L.I.S. degree at Kent State University to become an archivist.
Penny Wells (2019) has taught in Youngstown City Schools for over 35 years. In 2009, she created the nonprofit Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past, which takes high school students to the Civil Rights sites in the South where they visit historical sites, meet leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and learn the lessons of the Movement.
Lit Youngstown’s YouTube Channel features New Book News and Fall Literary Festival readings, poetry readings and a workshop for children in conjunction with 100,000 Poets for Change, Writer-Partner interviews and readings, and a short film about the making of the Phenomenal Women project. Lit Youngstown’s Facebook page video archive features First Wednesday Readings recorded during the pandemic lockdown.
Find stories and interviews about Lit Youngstown in the media here.