“In an essay on race and memory, Toni Morrison wrote of ‘the stress of remembering, its inevitability, [but] the chances for liberation that lie within the process.’ Ta-Nehisi Coates’s new novel, The Water Dancer, is an experiment in taking Morrison’s ‘chances for liberation’ literally: What if memory had the power to transport enslaved people to freedom?” by Annalisa Quinn of NPR.
Wednesday, October 14, 2020, 6 PM – 7 PM EST on Zoom. Register here for the 2020 book discussions on the second Wednesday.
The Water Dancer is available from The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, Trumbull County Public Library, and the YSU Barnes and Noble. Haven’t read the book yet? No worries. Join us.
November 11 (poetry) Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay December 9 Any children’s book by a Black author January 14 (short stories) The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie February 11 (fiction) The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead March 11 (fiction) We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo April 8 (speculative fiction) Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler May 13 (fiction) An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
New Book News! We celebrate Rick Bursky, John Gallaher and Elizabeth Powell and their new poetry collections, published during lock-down. Join us on Lit Youngstown YouTube for a live reading and conversation, Sunday, October 11, 2020 at 3 PM – 4 PM EST.
Rick Bursky is an adjunct at USC and occasionally teaches poetry for UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. He is the author of I’m No Longer Troubled by the Extravagance, also with BOA Editions (2015), Death Obscura with Sarabande Books (2010), and The Soup of Something Missing with Bear Star Press (2004).
John Gallaher is the author of five collections of poetry, and co-author of two. He is the co-editor of the Laurel Review and lives in rural Missouri.
Elizabeth Powell is the author of three books of poems, most recently, ATOMIZER. Her novel Concerning the Holy Ghost’s Interpretation of JCREW Catalogues was published in 2019. She is Professor of Writing and Literature at Northern Vermont University.
4th Annual Fall Literary Festival
September 24-26, 2020, EST
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
Our hardworking planning committee began planning this conference in February. It seemed so far away, and then screeeee!–what a tailspin–but here we are, meeting on Zoom, and it’s really coming together. Just a few more weeks to register.
This year’s theme is In Many Tongues: Constituents of the Barbaric Yawp.
This year’s conference will be centered around writing and publishing, literary inclusion, translating and translation, dialect and dialog, atypical modes of speech, and the generational, political, ecological, and experimental elements that add to the wider literary conversation.
The conference will include creative readings, craft talks, workshops and panel discussions on writing, reading, teaching, performing, editing and publishing creative works. Highly acclaimed visiting faculty will share their experience and insights, and over 50 presenters from Ohio and beyond will speak on a variety of topics.
We missed everyone during our usual summer break. Let’s get the convo re-started with Zadie Smith’s The Autograph Man, Wednesday September 9 from 6:00-7:00. September through December we’ll meet 2nd Wednesdays on Zoom (until it’s safe to return to Cultivate Cafe). This registration link will give you access to the remaining 2020 discussions. In January we’ll switch to 2nd Thursdays, with a new registration link.
We’re looking forward to this First Wednesday Series reading by Kelly Bancroft & Jessica Jewell! October 7 at 7:00 PM EST. The reading will be livestreamed on Facebook. Register here to attend on Zoom and/or read in the open mic.
Kelly Bancroft (l) writes and teaches in Youngstown, Ohio. Her poems and prose have appeared in many journals and her plays have been presented in Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Milwaukee. She teaches at Hiram College and at the Martin P. Joyce Juvenile Justice Center.
Join us for a First Wednesday Series reading by Susan Petrone & William Heath, whose work draws on personal and family memories of life in Youngstown. Open mic to follow. Co-hosted by Cheryl Torsney & Karen Schubert. Register here for the Zoom room (opens at 6:30). This reading will also be livestreamed on Facebook.
Lit Youngstown’s summer intern Danny Gage asked children’s author Janet Wong a few questions about her work and writing life. Janet will be a featured writer at the online 2020 Fall Literary Festival September 24-26.
DG: Do you think that being a lawyer, specifically at Universal Studios, is why you have an eagerness to write for children, as well as even teach them poetry? Did the setting you worked in as a lawyer make the career shift easier?
I think that my experience as a lawyer has transferred over to my writing career in three main ways.
First, it makes me kinder and more compassionate. I became ashamed of the way that doing my job was turning me into a mean person. Not every lawyer does mean things, but I did. In my job as Director of Labor Relations at Universal Studios Hollywood, I needed to fire a lot of people—and the sad part was that it started not to bother me.
High praise to Cherise Benton for designing this wonderful poster of the featured writers who have read for Lit Youngstown in our first five years. We are blown away by the talented writers who live among us or agreed to trek in to share their fine work. Continue reading →
The 4th annual Fall Literary Festival Sept. 24-26… all online. What will we miss? Hugs. Spontaneous conversations. Jazz. Cake. But we’ll do our best to create a welcoming, interesting and enjoyable conference. This year’s visiting writers and presenters are outstanding, with a range of topics, genres and styles.
Take a look at the conference lineup here. We’ve included audio clips of some of our presenters.
Who will enjoy the conference? Readers and writers of any experience level who are comfortable with adult themes. We have a special price for graduate students and part-time faculty, and this year we’re making it easy for faculty to bring their whole college or high school class.
Lit Youngstown’s summer intern Danny Gage asked poet Cynthia Atkins a few questions about her work and writing life. Cynthia will be a featured writer at the online 2020 Fall Literary Festival September 24-26.
DG: In what ways has your home, Southern Appalachia influenced your writing and your views on existence?
CA: I’m a native Chicagoan, by way of New York City, Brooklyn, and I wound up living in Rockbridge County, VA by way of love. I met my partner and hubby, Phillip at Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. We fell head over heels, and so I moved to these parts 25 years ago. I guess this is my forever home now. I raised my son here and I feel I now have roots in these parts. But at first, I felt like a Yankee, very much a fish out of water—A proud feminist and a Jew, living in a college mountain town where Confederate flags still hang and so much Civil War history. Bathroom wallpaper had Civil War generals. As a Midwesterner, this was all foreign to me. So while this has been a peaceful and very loving community, I have often felt ‘an outsider’—Perfect strangers thought they had every right to ask me ‘what church I belonged to’—when I’d respond, “I’m a Jew”—a few mouths dropped open. As a writer, I’ve found I’ve never felt comfortable belonging to any one group or grouping. I felt like an outsider, which is probably why I am a writer. Continue reading →