We published our 2019 Annual Report! Thanks to all–you put the light in Lit Youngstown. There were so many to thank, our hearts are full. We hope we haven’t forgotten anyone, but if we did, please let us know.
Even better than a chicken dinner! Congrats to Vi Aguirre on winning our drawing for a copy of Mark Winne’s newest book Food Town USA: Seven Unlikely Cities That Are Changing the Way We Eat. After Lit Youngstown, working with many community partners, invited Mark to speak on nutritious food access, he returned to the Mahoning Valley to conduct research, and included inspiring local work in the new book. Like to get your hands on a copy? Order it from Island Press.
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!
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)
Words 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.
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
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!
We are so excited to invite you to the official kick-off of our NEA Big Read! Many thanks to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown for being wonderful hosts. Please bring a food or drink to share, and join us at this free event. If you haven’t yet read the book, don’t worry. If you have, we look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.
We are thrilled to welcome the Wick Poetry Center to talk about some of their incredible work in the community, using poetry to create bridges of understanding. And profound thank you to our international friends for sharing their stories. Continue reading
Sarah Davis took a break during her summer internship for Lit Youngstown to be a counselor in the Summer in America program at Youngstown State. We asked her to tell us about her experiences.
Summer in America, a program hosted by Youngstown State University’s International Programs Office, was held from July 12th to August 2nd, 2019 and invited students from other countries to live on campus and experience life in the United States. This year, the program saw an increase in participants from 14 to 68 students and faculty members from China and Taiwan. My time with Summer in America is one that I will truly never forget I got to meet a lot of students who I really connected and became friends with that I will miss dearly. Continue reading
Sometimes in a workshop or other setting, a writer will bring up the question of the MFA, Master of Fine Arts, in creative writing. It’s a big commitment of time, and often, money, so we asked our intern Sarah Davis to share some thoughts with us about her experience in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts (NEOMFA).
One of the questions I’ve received the most while working towards my MFA is “what are you going to do when you finish school.” But for me, it’s not as much about what I’m going to do after as it is with what I’m doing now. I have found great value in pursuing my MFA in creative writing as it has allowed me to expand my craft and knowledge of the creative writing world. Continue reading
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.
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.
Healthy Community Partnerships:
Where Sidewalks End
Lit Youngstown is proud to be a partner in this Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley initiative that will bring awareness of the intersection of public infrastructure and community health. The project will include photography and community narratives. Visit Where Sidewalks End for more information, including upcoming calls for submissions.