Hats off to the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley for their microfunding initiatives, giving projects a boost with both funding and community engagement.
We are crazy honored to be a presenter for the first Soup. Our pitch will be for the Winter Writing Camp February 16, a cost-free, high energy day of writing activities for writers of all ages. Other presenters are ABC Diamond Girls, Shepherd of All God’s Children, and YSUScape. Whichever project you vote for, you’re sure to walk away with a belly full of delicious soup, and a feeling that good things are happening in our communities. We hope you can make it!
Lit Youngstown, in conjunction with Power of the Arts and Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, seeks original poetry from poets affiliated with Mahoning and Trumbull Counties for a public art project.
The poems will be part of artistically designed murals, painted by YSU art students under the guidance of Professor Dragana Crnjak. Funding for the project will be raised through an IOBY campaign.
The winning poems will be succinct/brief and appropriate for readers of all ages. Each poet is limited to one single poem submission. Please send your submission, along with a cover letter explaining your affiliation to Trumbull or Mahoning County, to LitYoSubmissions@gmail.com. Deadline November 30.
The final two poems of a special project have been embossed and installed next to a well-traveled walkway at St. John’s Episcopal Church. The walkway connects Walnut St., YSU buildings, the MVR, the Noble Creature Cask House and St. John’s to the rest of the YSU campus and Wick Ave.
These poems are by Youngstown native son Jeff Murphy and Dayton poet David Lee Garrison. As fine debris settles into the letters over time, they will become more visible.
Michael Staaf of Steel Valley Signs created and installed these frames at the end of September; just today the grass has been seeded. This lovely garden-like area is part of a new, open landscape project by St. John’s, where Lit Youngstown’s office is located. Tony Armeni will donate a sculpture, giving the poems more visibility.
Earlier this summer, we embossed poems by Jeanne Bryner of Newton Falls and Laura Grace Weldon of Litchfield in new sidewalks at the Commerce Building on Walnut St. in downtown Youngstown. Our appreciation to Rich Mills, owner of this historic building.
All four poets and judge Mary Quade of Hiram will come for a dedication and reading at the Fall Literary Festival, Oct. 4-5, 2019. Many thanks to signmaker Michael Staaf for taking on this complicated project, and to the Ohio Arts Council for funding. This completes Words Made Visible, a year-long collaboration between visual and literary arts.
It was with great sadness that we received word of the death of Lou, a writer who
was engaged with us since our beginning. The last conversation we had, he was excitedly describing a writing conference he had just been to on the West Coast.
That’s what gave us the idea to establish a scholarship in his name, to be awarded to a current NEOMFA student attending the Fall Literary Festival.
Each year, we will award one $100 scholarship, and invite the recipient to read their work at the festival. We welcome contributions to the yearly scholarship fund.
If you will be a NEOMFA student in fall of 2018 and would like to compete for the prize, please send a cover letter and 10-page writing portfolio (name on cover letter only) to LitYoungstown@gmail.com. The deadline is August 31.
Lou’s daughter Jamie offered us this tribute.
Lou Yuhasz was a writer, a husband, a father, a friend, and above all, a teacher. He graduated from Youngstown State University in 1999, with a BS in Secondary Education, concentrating on comprehensive communication. In his senior year, he was the assistant news editor at the Jambar covering the Academic Senate as YSU made the transition from quarters to semesters. He taught as a substitute for a year for Youngstown City Schools, before taking a job at a large health insurance company.
After ten years, and at the age of 48, Lou’s passion for creative writing and teaching led him to quit his job and join the NEOMFA program. Shortly after beginning school, he was diagnosed with stage II cancer of the esophagus. That didn’t stop him though, and he excelled in his classes.
His passion for his school and the program was contagious, and so was the happiness the NEOMFA brought him. I’ve read a lot of my father’s work throughout my life, but something very special happened when he joined the NEOMFA program.
He was a husband of 26 years, and raised two daughters. His support for his family was unparalleled. His office looked like something out of a Lovecraft novel, with tentacles and gargoyles scattered between the bookshelves housing various scifi and horror novels. He loved to write and tell stories, as well as teaching others the ability to create what they loved. He would be proud and honored to have this scholarship enable people to follow their passion.
Save the dates! This year’s festivals will feature workshops, craft talks, a publishing panel, and readings by these accomplished visiting writers.
Please join us in thanking our community partners for helping to make the festival possible: the Nathalie & James Andrews Foundation, the Purple Cat, the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts, Sojourn to the Past, St. John’s Episcopal Church, YSU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, YSU Department of Women & Gender Studies, YSU English Department.
Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK and grew up wherever her father was stationed for work, which was sometimes Nigeria. Her work has received grants and
Lesley Nneka Arimah
awards from Commonwealth Writers, AWP, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Jerome Foundation and others. She was selected for the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35. Her short story collection What It Means When a Man Falls From The Sky was published by Riverhead in April 2017. She currently lives in Minneapolis.
after majoring in English in college to writing and publishing fiction. In 2009, she published her first novel for teens with HarperCollins. Freaked is the story of a teenaged boy obsessed with the Grateful Dead. She followed with a second novel in 2010 entitled Stranded, a mystery set in Iowa surrounding the discovery of an abandoned baby.
John Kerstetter, the author of Crossings: A Doctor-Soldier’s Story (Random House 2017), received his medical degree from the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota, and his MFA degree from Ashland University in Ohio. He
served as a combat physician and flight surgeon for the U.S. Army and completed three combat tours in Iraq. His writing has appeared in The Best American Essays, River Teeth, and other literary journals.
Jacqui Lipton, LL.B., M.F.A., Ph.D. is a law professor and writer as well as the director of Authography LLC, a company dedicated to helping authors and artists meet their personal and professional goals. She writes regular columns on legal issues for authors for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Bulletin, Savvy Authors, and Luna
Station Quarterly. She holds an MFA in fiction writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a Ph.D. in law from Cambridge University. Her forthcoming book, LAW & AUTHORS: A LEGAL HANDBOOK FOR WRITERS will be published in 2019 by University of California Press.
Dave Lucas is the author of Weather (Georgia, 2011), which received the 2012 Ohioana Book Award in Poetry. He is a co-founder of Brews + Prose at Market Garden Brewery and of Cleveland Book Week. In 2018 he was appointed the second Poet Laureate of the State of Ohio.
Craig Paulenich is the author of two books of poetry, Drift of the Hunt (Nobobdaddies Press, 2006) and Blood Will Tell (BlazeVOX [books], 2009) and editor (with Kent Johnson) of the anthology, Beneath A Single Moon: Buddhism in Contemporary American Poetry (Shambhala Press, 1991). His poems have appeared in The Georgia Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, Kansas Quarterly, the Minnesota Review, the South Carolina Review, Southern Poetry Review, Artful Dodge, and many others. He has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes. He earned an MFA in Poetry at the University of Pittsburgh, a Ph.D. in English at Bowling Green
State University, and is Professor of English at Kent State University-Salem. He is a co-founder and faculty with the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, the nation’s only creative writing consortium. He’s currently working on a book of poems about John Brown. He and his wife, Karla, live on a 27-acre farm outside Guilford Lake, Ohio.
Judith Vollmer is the author of five full-length books of poetry, including most recently The Apollonia Poems, awarded the University of Wisconsin Press Four Lakes Prize in 2016 and published last year. She has received fellowships and residencies from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation of Yaddo, and the American
Academy in Rome; and the Brittingham, the Cleveland State, and the Center for Book Arts publication awards. Her poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in Poetry International, Poet Lore, The Cambridge Companion to Baudelaire, Prairie Schooner, The Women’s Review of Books, among many others. She teaches in the MFA Program in Poetry & Poetry in Translation at Drew University.
So much congratulations to four poets whose poems were selected to be letterpressed into broadsides by The Cranky Pressman.
“Working the Long Shift” by Craig Paulenich
“Train, Loud, Lonesome, Leaving Without Me” by Dianne Borsenik
“Spooning” by Caitlyn Ryan
“Nylon” by Kerry Trautman
The broadsides will be exhibited at the Words Made Visible monthlong gallery show at The Soap Gallery in downtown Youngstown for the month of February. The opening will be Saturday, February 3.
These poems were selected in a blind judging by Nicole Robinson, Steve Reese and Jennifer Cline. Thank you to our judges, to the Ohio writers who sent hundreds of poems and short prose for our project, and to the Ohio Arts Council for the encouragement and funding.
With the announcement of our Ohio Arts Council grant, seems like a good time for an update on the Words Made Visible project.
But first, woop woop! and so much thank you. With public funding on the chopping block, we are grateful to Governor Kasich and the Ohio Legislature for defending the value of the arts in our communities.
The panel discussion on our project was uplifting: Panelists noted that they liked the multidisciplinary nature of this proposal, that the activities truly work towards the goal of engaging as many writers as possible, that they are glad to see Lit Youngstown is encouraging new work, and considered Words Made Visible a fascinating idea to transform literary arts into visual arts, among other comments.
The first chunk of Words Made Visible is now finished: from many hundreds of submissions of poetry and short prose, the Lit Youngstown board selected ten finalists, then three winning poems and a set of haiku; of these winners, YSU student graphic designer Laura Garvin created a series of posters.
The featured poems are
“Men of Beautiful Countenance” by Craig Paulenich
“Feral” by Laura Grace Weldon
“The Neighborhood Girls Fall for the WKBN Meteorologist” by Allison Pitinii Davis
Haiku by Elliot Nicely & Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
With support from the YSU Summer Festival of the Arts, we gave out posters to hundreds of visitors to our tent, and hosted a reading by our project finalists, Dianne Borsenik, Luke Martinucci, Elliot Nicely & Craig Paulenich.
Next, in October, we will select four poems or short prose pieces to be letterpressed into broadsides by the Cranky Pressman.
Meanwhile, we will send the poems and stories to faculty in the Art Department at YSU, who will use the project in their classrooms, asking students to create visual work that responds to the literary work. Ceramics professor Missy McCormick’s summer class created such work, and here one pairing:
by Laura Grace Weldon
Moonlight leaks through the curtains.
I lie awake, listen to coyote songs
circle and connect, stitching together
the night’s raw edges.
Each time I hear their howls
my bone marrow sings.
What’s muzzled in me lifts.
I seem silent and
yet my pulse races through the trees.
These poems and their ekphrastic pieces in ceramics, printmaking, drawing and painting, will be exhibited at the Soap Gallery the month of February, 2018. There will be a reception and reading/response for the writers and artists Saturday, February 3.
We will also select four short works to be stamped into sidewalk squares by Michael Staaf at Metro Sign.
We hope you will join us along the way, celebrating the literary and visual arts, and their intriguing relationship.
Lots of people stopped by at the Summer Festival of the Arts to give a farewell hug to our founding co-director, Liz Hill. Liz is moving to lovely Ajijic, on Lake Chapala, Mexico, where her husband Matt will serve as the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church.
We are sad to see her go, and we are so grateful for the countless hours of work Liz has done to get us going in the right direction. A lot of what we do is behind the scenes, and Liz has kept the books, written grants, developed our bylaws and our board. She also orchestrated the Slice of Life Storytelling Night at the YWCA, and the publishing of Phenomenal Women: Twelve Youngstown Stories, both meaningful projects that led to profound insights into our community.
We will miss Liz’s generous spirit, bean soup, and wit; on our way to the AWP conference in D.C. we stopped for a coffee, and got out of the car a bit stiff from the long ride, which led Liz to sing, “The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be.”
We are also a little jealous. Look at Ajijic, how beautiful! Good journey, friend. We hope to keep Lit Youngstown going in a way that makes you proud.