Category Archives: First Wednesday

Lit Youngstown Turns 5!!!!!

Five years! It’s gone by in a flash. Let’s take a moment to celebrate all we’ve done together. And then let’s have a party!

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Jeffrey Murphy, Laura Grace Weldon, Jeanne Bryner & David Lee Garrison at the dedication of the Words Made Visible poetry-in-sidewalk squares

Since January of 2015 we have hosted nearly 400 writers, celebrating local talent and  visiting writers who have won prestigious awards. Local writers from age 6 to their 80s have shared poems and stories at open mics. (Photos: Mary Biddinger & Mary Quade, Lena Carson, Yahia Tahat, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Jimmy Sutman, Marjorie Maddox)

 

Hundreds of participants have learned about aspects of writing and publishing at workshops and classes taught by local teaching artists, and sessions at Winter Writing Camp and Fall Literary Festival.

Lit Youngstown partnered with the Public Library of Mahoning & Trumbull County to write a successful National Endowment for the Arts Big Read grant, and hosted 33 distinct activities culminating in a visit by author Luis Alberto Urrea, pictured here with local musicians the Labra Brothers. Only two Big Reads took place in Ohio this year, including ours! Reader non-writers have a place with us, too, with book discussions and readings such as Urrea’s, to a packed house.

We are grateful so many community partners have worked with us on projects and events, including the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Summer Festival of the Arts, JCC, YWCA, YNDC, Hubbard & Kinsman Public Libraries, Park Vista, Soap Gallery, McDonough Museum, YSU, UUYO, Purple Cat, Lake to River, WYSU, the National Council of Negro Women and many others. Our partners help us extend our reach and give us a chance to support the incredible work they are doing.

In addition, we’ve helped make a modest boost in the local economy by supporting local businesses whenever possible, and by bringing in state and federal grant money and writers who purchase meals and lodging while attending events such as the Fall Literary Festival.  (Photo: Fall Literary Festival dinner at the Hilton DoubleTree, photo credit Jill Christman)

cropped-jillchristman.jpgWords Made Visible engaged hundreds of writers and artists, culminating in poetry excerpts stamped in sidewalk squares at St. John’s Episcopal Church and by the Commerce Building downtown. (Photo credit: Melanie Buonavolonta & Ashley Dillon)

Many YSU undergraduate and graduate student interns have helped us develop and implement programs and materials, giving the students insights into running an arts nonprofit.

In addition, we have used the literary arts to foster discussions on healthy food access with food policy activist Mark Winne, whose research in Youngstown is featured in his latest book. Our oral history project Phenomenal Women: Twelve Youngstown Stories tells the stories of twelve African-American women in our community. Food for Thought book discussion has taken up themes of food, the American experience, and humankind and the natural world. And we learned about Youngstown’s literary ancestor, Michael McGovern, the Puddler Poet, whose labor poetry had a national following at the turn of the 20th century.

Thank you to everyone who had a presence in our first five years. It has really felt like the building of a community, and we are so grateful.

Turn the Page with us!

Please consider celebrating Lit Youngstown at 5 with a contribution to help keep us going strong. For donors of $50+ (or $5.00+ monthly installments), we have a special commemorative calendar with some of our favorite images from the last five years. Major donors of $500 and higher are listed on our website.

Please click here for more information on how to contribute by check, Paypal, credit card, monthly installment or via the Youngstown Foundation.

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From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for contributing any level of support. Mark your calendar for a big thank you party January 25! 

 

Executive Director Karen Schubert
Board of Directors: Elaine Arvan Andrews, Tricia D’Avignon, Tim Francisco,  Anne Garwig, Liz Hill, Courtney Kensinger, Nicole DiPiero, Nicole Robinson, Elizabeth Skeels, Penny Wells

Support Lit Youngstown with a Gift Today

P.S. Many people have told us they would have paid more for a class or event. We keep our pricing low to be as inclusive as possible, and your donation will help keep us going in these hard times. Thank you!

 

 

Nacho Missable Reading

Yo, Yo-Towners! Join us for a reading by Pamela Anderson & Steve Thomas. Open mic to follow, emceed by Beth Franklin. We will also be celebrating National Nachos Day. Wednesday, November 6 at 7:00, Soap Gallery, 117 S. Champion St.

Pam 2017 Head ShotPam Anderson has an MFA from the NEOMFA, which also awarded her a Bisbee Fellowship. Much of her writing focuses on the Holocaust, with one of her Holocaust poems receiving an AWP Intro Journals award. Her work has appeared in JennyMag.org, Atticus Review, Mason’s Road, The Listening Eye, Whurk, and elsewhere.

 

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Steve Thomas is the author of The Strength of Flowers (Crisis Chronicles Press 2018), and his poems have been published in The Mill and the Hessler Street Fair Anthology. His goal is to achieve the harmony through writing poetry that he displayed as a professional bowler.

October First Wednesday Features Cleveland Writers

Hope to see you at our October reading, featuring E.F. Schraeder & Michelle R. Smith. Wednesday October 2 at 7:00 at the Soap Gallery, 117 S.Champion St. Open mic to follow, emceed by Christopher Lesko. In honor of World Farm Animals Day, we invite you to bring a vegan food to share if you feel so inspired.

 

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Ethicist, poet, and speculative fiction writer E. F. Schraeder holds an interdisciplinary doctorate emphasizing applied ethics and social justice issues. Dr. Schraeder has taught widely in gender studies, humanities, and philosophy, and has also worked in the nonprofit sector, fundraising for grassroots organizations. Schraeder serves as a sometimes-contributing editor at an animal advocacy webcomic and facilitates writing workshops.

Michelle R. Smith is a writer, educator, cultural facilitator, and niche writing entrepreneur. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals, anthologies and other venues.

O Autumn Fruitfulness!

September and October are filling up so richly, we’re going to dedicate a square to all that’s going on, between the NEA Big Read (centered around Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea), the Fall Literary Festival, a reading by poet and native Youngstowner Ross Gay, and our usual Lit Yo activities.NEA Big Read

We’ll add to this calendar as pieces come together. All events are free and open to the public with no reservation required, unless otherwise indicated.

This is a partial list of Big Read activities; please visit the calendar of the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County for the whole beautiful thing! Continue reading

Poets & Ice Cream

Join us Wednesday August 7, 7:00, The Soap Gallery, 117 S. Champion St., as we welcome acclaimed poets James Arthur, Cody Walker & Catherine Wing. Open mic to follow, emceed by Arya-Francesca Jenkins. We will also be celebrating National Raspberries and Cream Day with homemade ice cream.

James Arthur is the author of The Suicide’s Son and Charms Against Lightning. He has received the Amy Lowell Travelling Poetry Scholarship, a Hodder Fellowship, a Stegner Fellowship, a Discovery/The Nation Prize, a Fulbright Scholarship to Northern Ireland, and a Visiting Fellowship at Oxford. Arthur teaches at Johns Hopkins University.

Cody Walker directs Creative Writing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Author of poetry collections The Self-Styled No-Child and Shuffle and Breakdown. His work appears in The New York Times Magazine, The Yale Review and The Best American Poetry. He’s the co-director of the Bear River Writers’ Conference. Walker’s chapbook, The Trumpiad, was published on the last of Trump’s first 100 Days. Proceeds are being donated to the ACLU.

Catherine Wing is the author of two collections of poetry, Enter Invisible and Gin & Bleach. Her poems have been published in such journals as Poetry, The Nation, and Tin House. She teaches at Kent State University and is currently serving as the Director of the NEOMFA, the nation’s only consortial program in Creative Writing.

First Wednesday Moved to Second Wednesday

Have a great 4th, and we’ll see you on the 10th! We send out a special invitation to NEOMFA alumni, students & faculty. The open mic will be emceed by Joelle Lambert, so bring your poems & stories. Also, we’ll be celebrating National Piña Colada Day & National Pick Blueberries Day: a double-header! Wednesday July 10, 7:00, The Soap Gallery.

AlexBW (3)Alex DiFrancesco is a writer of fiction, creative nonfiction, and journalism who has published work in Tin House, The Washington Post, Pacific Standard, Brevity, and more. Their essay collection Psychopomps (Civil Coping Mechanisms Press) and their second novel All City (Seven Stories Press) were published in 2019. Their storytelling has been featured at The Fringe Festival, Life of the Law, The Queens Book Festival, and The Heart podcast. DiFrancesco is currently an MFA candidate at Cleveland State University. They can be found @DiFantastico on Twitter.Noor

Noor Hindi (she/her) is a Palestinian-American poet who is currently pursuing her MFA in poetry through the NEOMFA program. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Winter Tangerine, Tinderbox Poetry, Glass Poetry, & Diode Poetry Journal. Hindi is the assistant poetry editor at The University of Akron Press and a reporter for The Devil Strip Magazine.

First Wednesday Reading Features Mary Grimm & Susan Grimm

grimmJoin us Wednesday June 5 at 7:00 at the Soap Gallery for a poetry & prose reading by two sisters and amazing writers of Cleveland. Open mic emceed by Steve Force. National Ketchup Day. Let’s stogie up the grill.

Mary Grimm has had two books published, Left to Themselves (novel) and Stealing Time (story collection) – both by Random House. Currently, she is working on a dystopian novel about oldsters. She teaches fiction writing at Case Western Reserve University.

Susan Grimm is the author of Almost Home (1997), Lake Erie Blue (2004), and Roughed Up by the Sun’s Mothering Tongue (2011). Her poetry has appeared in Blackbird, The Journal, South Dakota Review, Poetry East, and Tar River Poetry.

Many thanks to the sponsors of the First Wednesday series: the Nathalie & James Andrews Foundation and the Kennedy Family Foundation via the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.

First Wednesday: Bonné de Blas, Monica Kaiser & Sheryl St. Germain

 Lit Youngstown presents a reading with Bonné de Blas, Monica Kaiser & Sheryl St. Germain, Wednesday May 1 @ 7:00 at The Soap Gallery, 117 S. Champion St. No open mic this month. We will also be celebrating National Chocolate Parfait Day.  

BonneBonné de Blas is an MFA candidate in Poetry at the NEOMFA. She received an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee and a JD from Case Western Reserve University School of Law. She is the author of chapbooks The Act of Dwelling (NightBallet Press) and The Rule of Contraction (Kattywompus Press) and her essay in Older Queer Voices: The Intimacy of Survival, Lambert and Einstein, eds. received a Best of the Net nomination.

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Monica Kaiser
is a graduate assistant at Kent State University and is pursuing a NEOMFA creative writing degree. She is the author of Still Sifting, and is passionate about the environment, ecopoetics, conflict management, and how these genres intersect. She lives with her husband, son, two rabbits, and her father.

 

©teake zuidema. sept 16, 2107.Sheryl St. Germain is a poet and essayist whose work has received numerous awards. Her most recent book, a poetry collection, The Small Door of Your Death, was published by Autumn House Press in 2018. Sheryl directs the M.F.A. program in Creative Writing at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, and is co-founder of the Words Without Walls program. 50 Miles (forthcoming, Etruscan Press) is a memoir in linked essays that addresses addiction and alcoholism. The book traces the life of the author’s son, Gray, a talented but troubled young man, and his death from a drug overdose at thirty, as well as the author’s own recovery from substance abuse.

First Wednesday: Joanne Lehman & Sarah Wells

Join us for a reading! Wednesday, April 3 at 7:00 at the Soap Gallery, 117 S. Champion St. Open mic to follow emceed by Thomas Welsh. We will also be celebrating National Chocolate Mousse Day.

90Lehman_JoanneheadshotJoanne Lehman has published two poetry chapbooks, Morning Song, and Driving in the Fog, which received the 2004 Wick Poetry Prize. She is also the author of Kairos: A Novel and Traces of Treasure: Quest for God in the Commonplace, both published by Herald Press. Joanne and her husband, Ralph, live in Wooster, Ohio.

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional, The Vasarah-m-wells-smallerlley of Achor, Pruning Burning Bushes, and Acquiesce. Six of her essays have been listed as Notable Essays in The Best American Essays. She is a 2018 recipient of an Ohio Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council.