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.
Many, so many! thanks to Ashley Dillon for her editing and graphic design on our new, gorgeous, gorgeous! 5-year commemorative calendar. These are the images for each month, and the calendar includes Lit Yo event dates.
The calendar is a thank you gift for donors of $60 or more or $5.00 per month. Thank you! Please know your support is absolutely essential. Would you like to be a new contributor? Do you feel our work in the literary community brings $5.00 of value each month? More about our first 5 years here and donating here.
Additional calendars are available for $15.00 each.
Additional 2020 Commemorative Calendars
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!
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.
The Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County (PLYMC) with Lit Youngstown received a grant of $15,000 to host the NEA Big Read in Mahoning County. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.
Our selected book is Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea, also the September book in our Food for Thought book discussion series. Mr. Urrea will visit the Valley this fall, and there will be many activities relating to the book and its themes in a month-long calendar of events. Numerous electronic and hard copies will be available at the public library and branches, and at the two Barnes & Noble bookstores. The Youngstown Rotary will stock each of their Little Free Libraries with a copy, as well.
We are so grateful to the professional, hardworking staff at the public library for their partnership, to the NEA and Arts Midwest for selecting our proposal (one of only two in Ohio and 78 nationwide), and to the many community partners who agreed to host an event during our Big Read. We’ll share the calendar as soon as the ink dries.
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.
The timing wasn’t quite right to find a downtown sidewalk installation site. However, the stamps are reusable; we are still pursuing opportunities in the city, and are open to other possibilities.
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.
Thank you to all: artists, writers, supporters, volunteers, the Soap Gallery, the Ohio Arts Council. Special appreciation to photographer Melanie Rae Buonavolonta who captured the day perfectly.
Several people asked about the poem read by Lewis School student Ari Sheik. He has granted permission for his poem to be posted here.
War is a world of misery. Everything is engulfed in chaos.
War bears unsparing gunfire, pouring in from hell itself. It never ends, never rests.
War is shaped like the sharpened edge of a warped, dangerous knife. Blood ceaselessly dripping from its tip.
War remembers when it was nothing, when it was absent. Now war rules this world.
War is a memory of time when brave men and women fell on the battlefield, fighting for what they believed in.
War is without mercy.
Lit Youngstown Presents Words Made Visible
A literary-visual art collaboration & exhibit at The Soap Gallery
Opening reception Saturday, February 3, 2018
Mari Alschuler, Dianne Borsenik, Steve Brightman, Jeanne Bryner, Juliet Cook, David Lee Garrison
Kari Gunter-Seymour, Jennifer Hambrick, Kayla Jeswald, Paula J. Lambert, Robert Miltner, Jeffrey Murphy
Craig Paulenich, Caitlyn Ryan, Ari Sheik, Robert Smith, Kerry Trautman, Laura Grace Weldon
Broadsides, Letterpressed by Jason Vaughn at The Cranky Pressman
Judges: Jennifer Cline, Steven Reese & Nicole Robinson
“Nylon” by Kerry Trautman
“Spooning” by Caitlyn Ryan
“Working the Long Shift” by Craig Paulenich
“Train, Loud, Lonesome, Leaving Without Me” by Dianne Borsenik
Posters, Graphically Designed by Laura A. Garvin
Judges: Lit Youngstown Staff
“Men of Beautiful Countenance” by Craig Paulenich
“The Neighborhood Girls Fall for the WKBN Meteorologist” by Allison Pitinii Davis
“Feral” by Laura Grace Weldon
Haiku by Elliot Nicely
Haiku by Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
YSU Painting students, professor Dragana Crnjak
“And time slips by…” Diane Kendig||Arielle Pilolli
“Bearing October” by Sarah Marcus-Donnelly||Kristie Gearhart
“Empty Elevator” by Joshua Gage||Aislinn Janek
“Feral” by Laura Grace Weldon||Amanda Spinosa
“Under the Overpass” by Riley Gable||Jessica Hollabaugh
YSU Expressive Drawing students, professor Chris McCullough
“A Haiku Unraveled” by Rob Smith||Tiffany Snow
“A Haiku Unraveled” by Rob Smith||Vanessa Bilas
“Calling the Dog” by Laura Grace Weldon||Joseph Lanzilotti|
“Cold Green” by Catherine Wing||Cassidy Griffin
“Endings” by Kari Gunter-Seymour||Ashley Vaughan
“Gape: Fledglings” by Paula J. Lambert||Craig Miller
“Leaves of a Tulip” by Valentina Ranaldi-Adams||Kaitlin Moran
“Myth” by Carol Barrett||Allison Begala
“Plum Blossoms” by Valentina Ranaldi-Adams||Dylan Brammer
“Post-It to Reflection of Self in the Window” by Caitlyn Ryan||Jacob Melott
“Soldier Child” by Robert Miltner||Michaela Best
“The Narrows” by Sherri Saines||Kerrianne Ghinda
“The Silence” by Elliot Nicely||John Elias
“Wanting Snow in August” by Michael Levan||Haley Holt
“Weighing Options” by Julie Warther||Kyle Maurice
“What the Leaves Said” by Neil Carpathios||Abigail Martin
“Your Wish” by Valentina Ranaldi-Adams||Vincent Village
YSU Digital media students, professor Dana Sperry
“Common Ground” by Valentina Ranaldi-Adams||Kathleen Gallagher
“Crows” by Neil Carpathios||Alaina Woofter, Matt Miligan, Vinny Matthews, Vincent Village, Torri Session,
“Mal du Siècle” by Riley Gable||Kim Schüler, Kaylee Mondock, Lexi Chismar
“My Great-Great Grandmother” by Craig Paulenich||David Belgrad
“Sky Opens” by Robert Smith||Mandy Bell
“Ten O’ Clock, The Day Already Threatening” by Kari Gunter-Seymour||Angela Cozart, Evan von Thaer,
“Wanting Snow in August” by Michael Levan||Patrick Potter, Keagan O’Brien, Sean Staser
“Why the Window Washer Reads Poetry” by Laura Grace Weldon||Matthew Luonuansuu, Caroline Lacusky,
“Winter Aubade” by Riley Gable||Justine Dietrich, Shannon Henrich, Taylor Valerio
YSU Ceramics students, professor Missy McCormick
“All Her True Knowing” by Kari Gunter-Seymour||Venise Abell
“An Obligation” by Emily Reid Green||Lydia Tarleton Weisman
“And Dog Said” by David Lee Garrison||Rachel Emerson
“Autumn Nude,” by Jennifer Hambrick||Chelsea Wells
“Bearing October” by Sarah Marcus-Donnelly||Kristie Gearhart
“Benefits of Living in Geauga County” by Steve Brightman||Jalen Bosker
“Bittersweet Goodbye” by Kayla Jeswald||Victoria Buskirk
“Blush: A Cinquain Duet” by Emily Reid Green||Laura Goist
“Blush: A Cinquain Duet” by Emily Reid Green||Marah Peek
“Cairn” by Mari Alschuler||Tom Davidson
“The Chaos We Hear” by Pamela Anderson||Caroline Lacusky
“Crows” by Neil Carpathios||Mandolin Bell
“Dangling Globe”||Miranda Timmins
“Do we have any rock and rollers out there tonight?” by Allison Pitinii Davis||Tammy Bigley
“Endings” by Kari Gunter-Seymour||Kelly Livi
“Every Hole is Open” by Juliet Cook||Sean Staser
“Fault Lines in My Mouth” by Juliet Cook||Evan von Thaer
“Garden of Hope” by Cheryl Ciavarella||Ivory Schneider
“Gypsy Cartography” by Sergio Ortiz||Mike Rock
“Feral” by Laura Grace Weldon||Amanda Spinosa
“Feral” by Laura Grace Weldon||Tiffany Snow
“November” by David Lee Garrison||Rachel Marchese
“Open” by Lori Anne Gravley||Weslie Detwiler
“Orpheus: Once a Traveler” by Robert Miltner||Emily Burnham
“War” by Ari Sheik||Lorenzo Devine
Excerpts of these literary works will be stamped into sidewalks in spring by Michael Staaf of Steel Valley Signs
Judge: Mary Quade
“Chant of Change” by David Lee Garrison
“Stars of the Front Yard” by Jeffrey Murphy
“The Field’s Red Wheat” by Jeanne Bryner
“Why the Window Washer Reads Poetry” by Laura Grace Weldon
It was a great privilege to take our oral history project, Phenomenal Women: Twelve Youngstown Stories, to Arkansas in early November.
At the inaugural C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference at the University of Central Arkansas, we were included on a panel of presenters from Indiana, Nebraska and Ohio. The focus of our talk was the ways that literary arts might be used give a voice to women and girls, to create bridges of understanding, healing, and empowerment. Audience members asked several questions about our project.
2. Reaching Out: Organizations and Institutions Using Literary Arts as Outreach with Women and Girls
(Karen Schubert, Janine Harrison, Laura Madeline Wiseman, and Colleen Wells)
Location: Art Lecture Hall, McCastlain Hall
The literary arts are a means for giving voice to women and girls. This panel will discuss several outreach writing projects dealing with such themes as writing resistance to violence; therapy and trauma; empowerment and connection; and bridging gulfs in sociohistorical experience. From readings to roundtables to workshops to oral histories, presenters will expand on the power of the literary arts to create a space for women and girls.
The conference was named for C.D. Wright, a celebrated poet from Arkansas.
From there, we presented at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, under the invitation of Professor Christian Anton Gerard. Three Fort Smith students performed the Phenomenal Women staged reading.
Even though the details of the stories in Phenomenal Women are specific to Youngstown, they are well received wherever we take them. The themes of love, loss, work, family, struggle, change and hope are universal, and the poignant, tender and funny storytelling is powerful.
More congratulations! These Words Made Visible poems were selected by YSU digital media students for Silence is Golden.
“Crows” by Neil Carpathios
“Mal du Siècle” by Riley Gable
“My Great Great Grandmother” by Craig Paulenich
“Sky Opens” by Robert Smith
“Ten O’ Clock, The Day Already Threatening” by Kari Gunter-Seymour
“Why the Window Washer Reads Poetry” by Laura Grace Weldon
“Wanting Snow in August” by Michael Levan
“Winter Aubade” by Riley Gable
November 1 at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts, we enjoyed Silence is Golden, a multimedia performance by YSU art department students, responding to poems and stories from the Words Made Visible visual literary-visual arts collaboration. Local musicians improvised a soundtrack to the digital projects.