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!