Category Archives: First Wednesday

First Wednesday: Cris Harris & Kellie Kirksey

The First Wednesday Readers Series presents memoirist Cris Harris & poet and wellness practitioner Kellie Kirksey. Co-hosted by Johanna Slivinske. Open mic to follow. Wednesday, May 5 at 7:00 PM EST. Watch on Facebook Live, or register for the Zoom room.

Cris Harris is the author of I Have Not Loved You With My Whole Heart, a memoir about growing up in a household wrestling with faith, addiction, violence and the AIDS epidemic. He teaches writing and experiential education at an independent school outside of Cleveland. Recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for nonfiction, Cris’s essays have appeared at Post Road, Proximity Magazine, The New Engagement, Nowhere Magazine and the Indiana Review.

Kellie Kirksey is a global traveler, speaker, poet, tree hugger, yoga teacher, holistic psychotherapist, family lover, drummer, dancer, spa promoter, heart centered hypnotherapist, live happily life consultant, essential oil enthusiast, wellness promoter and has presented workshops and wellness circles both nationally and internationally.

First Wednesday: Grace Curtis & Laura Grace Weldon (Zoom & FB Live)

The April First Wednesday Series reading features poets Grace Curtis of Dayton and Laura Grace Weldon of Litchfield. Co-hosted by Barbara Sabol. Open mic to follow. Wednesday, April 7 at 7:00 PM EST. Watch on Facebook Live or register here for the Zoom room.

Grace Curtis is the author of three collections of poetry, Everything Gets Old, (Dos Madres, 2019) The Shape of a Box, (Dos Madres, 2014), and The Surly Bonds of Earth (Lettre Savage, 2010). Her prose and poetry can be found in numerous journals.

Laura Grace Weldon has two poetry collections, Blackbird (Grayson Books, 2019) and Tending (Aldrich Press, 2013). An excerpt of her poem “Why the Window Washer Reads Poetry” is stamped in the sidewalk on Walnut St. in downtown Youngstown.

March First Wednesday Features Adam Hughes (Virginia) & Renay Sanders (Cleveland) (Zoom & FB Live)

Join us for a reading of poetry, followed by an open mic. Co-hosted by Jonie McIntire. Watch on Facebook Live or register for the Zoom room here. Wednesday, March 3, at 7:00 PM EST.

Adam Hughes is the author of four full-length poetry collections, most recently Allow the Stars to Catch Me When I Rise (Salmon Poetry, 2017) and Deep Cries Out to Deep (Aldrich Press, 2017). Born and raised in Central Ohio, he now resides in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains where he is pursuing an MFA at Randolph College. He can be found on twitter @adamhughespoet1.

Renay Sanders has published poems in the Hessler Street, Writing Knights and Poet’s Haven anthologies, the chapbook Dancing in Place and the story “Cemetery Run” in the Women of Appalachia Project 2019. A native Clevelander, her poems are inspired by the characters she encounters in life and the beauty of the Cuyahoga Valley where she now resides.

First Wednesday Features Fine Poets (Zoom & FB Live)

Darlene Montonaro of Cleveland and David Swerdlow of New Wilmington, Pa. will read from their work for the First Wednesday Readers Series, Wednesday, February 3 at 7:00 PM EST, live on Lit Youngstown’s Facebook page. Register here to attend on Zoom and/or read in the open mic. Co-hosted by Iris Davis Hall.

Darlene Montonaro’s poetry has appeared in a number of literary magazines including Calyx, Slipstream, Earth’s Daughters, Blueline, and The Comstock Review. She served for twelve years as the Director of the Poets’ & Writers’ League, and in 2016 was awarded a Creative Workforce Fellowship from Community Partnership for Arts and Culture.

David Swerdlow’s poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, The Iowa Review, etc. He’s published two books of poetry: Bodies on Earth (2010) and Small Holes in the Universe (2003). His first novel, Television Man, came out in 2019. Swerdlow teaches at Westminster College.

Interview with James Winter


After the November First Wednesday Reading featuring James Winter, intern Cassandra Lawton interviewed him about his writing process and tips for writers.

Watch the reading here.

What is your writing process like?

I find with my fiction, which tends toward the historical, I read and research pretty thoroughly before I start a draft. For example, my story “Beyond Love” tells of the horrors a terrorist bomber suffers while detained in a Jordanian prison and eventually, Guantanamo Bay. As a basis of research, I studied Guantanamo: An American History by Johnathan Hansen, Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedu Ould Slahi, My Guantanamo Diary by Mahvish Khan, Inside the Wire by Erik Saar, and others, but most importantly, peer-reviewed, psychological analyses of Islamic terrorists that showed that many are educated, financially stable family men radicalized in the wake of personal, domestic failures. I found this fascinating when writing “Inheritance,” a story about IRA terrorists. Their characterization by historian Tim Pat Coogan as well as undercover interviews in SPIN magazine and scholarly journals like the UK’s Studies in Conflict & Terrorism depict most of “The Lads” as having barely graduated high school. They are part of a legacy, and instead of keeping activities secret from their spouses, many IRA wives know the organization in detail and provide emotional, and at times physical aid.

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First Wednesday Rescheduled (Zoom & Facebook Live)

Join us for a First Wednesday Series reading by Cleveland poet and journalist Lee Chilcote and Kent poet and creative nonfiction writer David Hassler. Wednesday, January 13 at 7:00 PM EST. Open mic to follow. Co-hosted by Christopher Minton. Register here for the Zoom room, or watch live on Lit Youngstown’s Facebook page.

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First Wednesday: Poets Heather Dobbins & Barbara Sabol (Zoom & FB Live)

Our December First Wednesday series reading features Heather Dobbins of Fort Smith, Arkansas & Barbara Sabol of Akron, Ohio. Co-hosted by Barbara Marie Minney. Zoom and Facebook Live, Wednesday, December 2 at 7:00 PM EST. Open mic to follow (to read in the open mic, please register on Zoom).

Heather Dobbins (L) Barbara Sabol (R)

Heather Dobbins is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. She is the author of two poetry collections, In the Low Houses (2014) and River Mouth (2017), both from Kelsay Press. Her poems and poetry reviews have been published in Beloit Poetry Journal, The Pinch, The Rumpus, TriQuarterly Review, and Women’s Studies Quarterly, among others.

Barbara Sabol’s second full-length book, Imagine a Town, was awarded the 2019 Sheila-Na-Gig Editions poetry manuscript prize. She is the author of Solitary Spin (Main Street Rag Press) and two chapbooks. Barbara’s poetry has appeared widely in Journals and anthologies. Her awards include an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council and the Mary Jean Irion Poetry Prize. She lives in Akron, OH with her husband and wonder dogs.

1st Wed. Features Craig Paulenich, James Winter, NEOMFA Reunion Reading (Zoom & Facebook Live)

Poet Craig Paulenich (L) Fiction writer James Winter (R)

Join us on Zoom and Facebook Live for a First Wednesday Series reading by Craig Paulenich & James Winter. Wednesday November 4 at 7:00 PM EST. Co-hosted by Cassandra Lawton. Special invitation to students, graduates & faculty of the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts. Open mic to follow. Register here to attend on Zoom.

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October First Wednesday: Kelly Bancroft & Jessica Jewell

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.

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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.

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First Wed. Features Youngstown Memories

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.

heath_petrone
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