Category Archives: Uncategorized

Food for Thought: March Trilogy

Our next book discussion will focus on the graphic novel trilogy March by john lewis 1Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Representative John Lewis.

We will meet at Cultivate Cafe, 901 Elm St., on Wednesday, January 10, from 6:00-7:00 pm. If you would like to order a bite to eat, please arrive before the counter closes at 6:00.

We are in the midst of a series of books that explore the American experience. Peruse the rest of the titles here.



First Wednesday Features Cleveland Writers

Wednesday, January 3, join us for a reading by award-winning writers Sarah Minor & Krysia Orlowski. Open mic to follow, emceed by Sarah Lowry.

The Soap Gallery, 117 S. Champion St. Doors open at 7:15, reading begins at 7:30. 

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Sarah Minor is the author of The Persistence of The Bonyleg: Annotated from Essay Press (2015). She’s an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the Cleveland Institute of Art and the video editor at TriQuarterly Review. Her recent work appears in Diagram, Creative Nonfiction, and The Atlantic.


Krysia Orlowski lives and writes in Cleveland, Ohio. Her work hasIMG_3839 (2) appeared in Barn Owl Review, Dressing Room Journal, Helen, jubilat, and RealPoetik. She teaches at Cleveland State University and is the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award.


One Million Thanks

Congratulations to Dominic Marchionda, Jr., on winning a stack of DSC_0566books penned by the visiting writers to our Fall Literary Festival. All  donors to our Fall Fundraiser were entered.

Please join us in thanking our generous contributors.

Major donors, $250 and Above
Frederick & Mary Lou Alexander, Liz Hill, Don Martin

Friends of Lit Youngstown
Ann Cliness, Dianne Borsenik, Gayle Catinella, Benjamin & Joyce Davidson, Barry & Miriam Davis, Andy Gray, Miriam Klein, Pam Lilak,  Anthony Manna, Dominic Marchionda, Jr., Gary & Sue Sexton, Urig Family Foundation, Vaughn Wascovich

Thank You!


Winter Writing Camp

We are pretty excited about our first Winter Writing Camp, Saturday, February 24, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Public Library of Youngstown & the Mahoning Valley and st. John’s Episcopal Church.

We’ll enjoy cool warm-up activities for Winter Writing Camp Logo-1 (2)writers and readers of all ages and experience levels. The day is free with registration, and includes sessions for children, teens, adults, and child-adult pairs. Children under 12 are required to have an adult in attendance. Free registration includes lunch and child care for children under 5.

*Registration is now closed. Thank you for such an enthusiastic response!*

Please join us in thanking our community partners The Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County and St. John’s Episcopal Church.

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Please join us in thanking our underwriters: an anonymous donor; Churchill Commons Giant Eagle; Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell; Liz Hill; and The Supplyroom.

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hhm_logo_320x125         supplyroom

Sessions will take place at the Public Library of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley & St. John’s Episcopal Church

Session 1    10:00 to 10:45

Option A: Adult Beginner Poetry/Anne Garwig

This workshop will cater specifically to folks who are true beginners at writing poetry. If you’ve always admired poetry and yearned for the ability to express yourself in verse, this is a great place to start. Or maybe you dabbled when you were younger, but have been away from the art form for some time. We will explore some of the basic traditional techniques and forms, and we will discuss written works of poetry from contemporary authors as well as classic favorites like Robert Frost and Sylvia Plath.

Option B: Reading Children’s Books/Terry Benton
Adults, Teens and Accompanied Children

Children’s books are fun! Join us for a brief discussion of the importance of reading for children and parents followed by a discussion of tips and strategies for finding fun and interesting books at the public library, along with examples of some wonderful books.

Option C: The Nuts and Bolts of Character Development /Melissa Guthrie
High School Through Adult

In this workshop, we will take an unexpected approach to character development. We will ask hard-hitting questions about our characters… like what their most treasured grudge is, and how they react to conflict. This immersion approach will give everyone the “tools” to create fully fleshed out characters and for worlds they inhabit.

Option D: Creative Writing Toolbox for Tweens/Allison Graf
Upper Elementary to Middle School

Learn techniques to help write stories at this creative writing session geared towards upper elementary to middle school students. We’ll cover great beginnings, fleshing out your characters, how to keep a story’s plot going somewhere, and what it means to ‘show, don’t tell.’

Session 2    11:00-11:45

Option A: Let’s Get Personal /Kris Harrington
High School Through Adult

This workshop will focus on creating personal non-fiction writing that both tells a story and speaks to a larger theme. Participants will read and hear samples of personal writing from The Sun and The Moth, and then we’ll get to work on creating short personal, theme-based pieces.

Option B: Being Seen: Attracting Your Ideal Readers/Stacey Schneider
High School Through Adult

This interactive workshop will help you learn how to attract your ideal readers and apply a funnel approach to create your brand.  Participants will learn how to lead with who they are and what they stand for in order to expedite the growth of their platform.

Option C: Writing Together /Ginny Taylor
Adult and Middle School

Writing is often a solitary endeavor. But what might happen if we teamed up with someone else? Come discover fun and creativity in this collaborative writing workshop designed for middle-schoolers and adults. Together, you’ll write poems, a story, and creatively journal. If you’re a parent or an adult with a special middle-schooled age person in your life, this workshop is perfect for both of you. All supplies included.

Option D: Writing Together/Terry Murcko
Parents and Children Ages 4 to 10

Parent and child become an authoring team in this fun workshop for children ages 4 to 10. How do creativity and experience work together in the writing process? You will see it in action here! If possible, each child should bring a parent to keep a one-on-one environment.

Pasta Bar & Open Mic       12:00-1:00
Session 3    1:15-2:00

Option A: There’s an App For That!/Robin Wesson
High school through adult

There are so many writing platforms for sharing your work that it can be challenging to find them all. We will explore several, including WordPress, Facebook and Amazon Kindle.

Option B: Flash Fiction, Prose Poetry, and Other Cross-Pollinations: An Exploration of Hybrid Forms/William R. Soldan
High School Through Adult

Hybrid forms aren’t new by any means, yet their malleability encourages us to push against boundaries in ways traditional forms don’t. Here, we’ll discuss various “cross-genres,” study some examples, and experiment, so you’ll leave class creatively stimulated, with a broader sense of the potential for hybridity in your own writing.

Option C: Plan Your Novel/Rebecca Barnhouse
Middle School Through Adult

Writers at any stage who have a novel in mind, or a novel already begun, will benefit from this workshop. We’ll look at strategies for developing a novel, as well as tips for getting a draft written.

Option D: Children Writing/Nicole Robinson
Elementary School

In this writing session for children participants will read and write poems through a variety of playful approaches. Exploring sound, metaphor, and rhythm, each child will leave with at least one completed poem, and a page of ideas for future writing.

Session 4    2:15-3:15

Session A: Writing Your Imaginary Journey/Mari Alschuler
High School Through Adult

Embark on an exciting writing journey through space and time! Using your imagination, assorted words and writing prompts, write about someplace you’ve been, never been but want to visit, or a magical or imaginary realm. You can write in prose or poetry.

Session B: Writing Children’s Literature/Nikki Ericksen
High School Through Adult

This workshop will be an introduction to Children’s Literature. This class is perfect for beginning and experienced writers, readers, and listeners, alike. Participants will learn about the different categories within Children’s Literature and discuss the target audience and age for each. Current and classic works will be used.

Session C: Writing on Illness/Tom Pugh
High School Through Adult

Tom will be conducting a session on writing illness from a nonfiction perspective. Maybe your experience with illness was tragic and brings you to the verge of tears, maybe your experience with hospitals and doctors is hilarious. Come to this session to put it into words with Tom!

Option B: Writing a Poem in Five Images/Terry Murcko
Middle school through adult

Starting From the Hands: A make it / share it / take it exercise that shows how a poem can condense narrative, characterization, and dialogue to tell a whole story in one swift scene, all from the imagery in five quick pictures captured in five lines.

3:30 Cookies & Metaphors


Meet the Workshop Leaders:

Mari Alschuler earned an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. Her poems and short stories have been published in national journals and anthologies. She is an Associate Professor of social work at YSU and is a poetry therapy practitioner and psychotherapist in Poland.

Rebecca Barnhouse, the author of three novels, teaches literature and fiction writing at YSU.

Terry Benton teaches children’s literature at Youngstown State University. She holds degrees in Education, English, and Curriculum and Instruction.

Nikki Ericksen has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University and a BA in Professional Writing and Editing from Youngstown State University. She is working on a middle grade novel inspired by her family’s military experience.

Anne Garwig is a poet and an English instructor at Kent State University’s Salem campus. She earned her BA in English from Ohio State University and her MFA in poetry from the NEOMFA consortium. Her work has appeared in various journals and magazines, including The Literateur, Into the Void, and Broad!. She has been an associate artist in residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and was selected for the 2017 Poetry Foundation Summer Teachers Institute. Anne is a native of Youngstown where she lives with her husband and their five pets.

Allison Graf
works as a youth services librarian for the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. Her degrees in Sports Management, Creative Writing, and Library Science might appear to make her seem worldly and interesting, but she’s not; she’s a crazy cat lady and proud of it.

Melissa Guthrie has been writing for half her life. She is the coordinator for an online 1st 5 Pages writing workshop. She is employed with the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County and is revising a Young Adult Historical Fiction novel set in Youngstown during the summer of 1863.

Kris Harrington’s creative non-fiction has been published in Jenny and The Sun, and she’s also performed her work at local art festivals and story telling events. Kris teaches college-level writing for Kent State University and she coordinates and directs The Strand Project, a monologue-based theatrical production. She lives in Youngstown, Ohio with her husband Jim, daughters Miranda and Gillian and a menagerie of rescue pets.

Terry Murcko has written poetry and songs since 1967. He has taught Creative Writing (on and off) for forty years, and has been affiliated with the National Writing Project. His most recent publication is in River of Words (Wick Poetry Center, 2017). He also hangs out with his grand-daughter, Maddie.

Tom Pugh is a graduate of Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts. He writes creative nonfiction and focuses primarily on life events, which have often been humorous. As of late, he has been working on a humorous cancer memoir about his stay in Cleveland Clinic in 2016. He has been published in Youngstown State University’s Jenny and Akron University’s Rubbertop Review.

Nicole Robinson’s poems have appeared in Artful Dodge, Great River Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review and elsewhere. She received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for her poetry in 2016, and is currently a writer-in-residence at Akron Children’s Hospital where she leads creative writing workshops for patients, families, and staff.

Stacey Schneider is a freelance writer and editor, as well as a professor at Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown, Ohio. She earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree and practiced as a pharmacist for many years but teaching and writing emerged as her true life calling. She has published a book in women’s non-fiction, edited a book on communication skills for women and contributed to several books for the medical professional.

William R. Soldan holds a BA in English Literature from YSU and is a graduate of the NEOMFA program. His writing appears or is forthcoming in publications such as New World Writing, Jellyfish Review, Kentucky Review, Thuglit, The Literary Hatchet, (b)OINK, The Best American Mystery Stories 2017, and many others.

A self-proclaimed journaling activist, Ginny Taylor is a certified Journal to the Self instructor. Her writing background includes an MFA in creative writing from Ashland University, multiple publications, and teaching in college-level writing programs. Through her business called Women of Wonder, Ginny facilitates workshops where she channels her passion for empowering women through difficult life transitions and towards a new beginning.

Robin Wesson was born and raised in Youngstown. She is not sure what a “Youngstown girl” is but is proud to say she is from the city. She has traveled to many places but nothing makes her happier than seeing a Youngstown highway sign.

Six-week workshop: Voice in Fiction

Enrollment Open

Through Others We Find Our Own: Amplifying Voice in Fiction

Ask many beginning writers what they struggle with and you’ll no doubt get a wide range of responses—getting started, finishing, writing dialogue, world-building, and so on—but invariably “finding my voice” is at the top of everyone’s list. So what do we mean by finding our voice? Well, usually what people mean is that they’re searching for their style, that trademark something that makes their work memorable and identifiable, that element that sets it apart from everything else. And while writing and writing often is the only non-negotiable criteria for achieving this, often the best path to discovering your voice as a writer is learning to create distinctive voices in your work—that is, generating stories and poems that crackle with life. This will be our aim during this six-week course. Through a combination of lecture, discussion, and practice, you will learn different ways through which “voice” can be achieved. You will learn that it isn’t just how someone says something but what they say that contributes to the voice of a particular piece of writing. You will learn how setting details and point-of-view can influence voice and how the very structure of our sentences can speak volumes about character and circumstance. By the end of our time together, you will walk away with not only a completed piece of fiction, to which I will have provided detailed feedback, but also the tools with which to identify and amplify the voices contained in your future work.

Amplifying Voice in Fiction: Saturdays, November 4 to December 6, 10-11:30, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 323 Wick Ave. Course fee: $25. Register here. Please register by November 1.

Meet the Teaching Artist: William R. Soldan holds a BA in English Literature from YSU and is a graduate of the NEOMFA program. His writing appears or is forthcoming in publications such as New World Writing, Jellyfish Review, Kentucky Review, Thuglit, The Literary Hatchet, (b)OINK, The Best American Mystery Stories 2017, and many others.

Words Made Visible Sidewalk Project

Congratulations to the writers of these excerpted works, which will be stamped into Youngstown sidewalks:

“The Field’s Red Wheat” by Jeanne Bryner
“Chant of Change” by David Lee Garrison
“Stars of the Front Yard” by Jeffrey Murphy
“Why the Window Washer Reads Poetry” by Laura Grace Weldon

Our gratitude to poet and judge Mary Quade, artist and signmaker Michael Staaf, the City of Youngstown, and the Ohio Arts Council.

We will add details of the whens and wheres of the project and dedication soon!

Aug. First Wed. Reading at Suzie’s

Join us Wednesday August 2 at 7:00 at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts in downtown Youngstown, as we welcome three visiting poets. Open mic to follow, emceed by Brandon Noel of The Makeshift Poets.


Jen Ashburn is the author of the full-length poetry collection The Light on the Wall, and has work in Chiron Review, Grey Sparrow, The MacGuffin, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Whiskey Island, and other journals. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Chatham University. Originally from southern Indiana, she spent four years in Japan and greater Asia, and now lives in Pittsburgh.

Roger Craik, Emeritus Professor of English at Kent State, has written four full-length poetry books: I Simply Stared (2002), Rhinoceros in Clumber Park (2003), The Darkening Green (2004), and Down Stranger Roads (2014); as well as two chapbooks. His poetry has appeared in national poetry journals such as The Formalist, Fulcrum, The Literary Review, The Atlanta Review and The Mississippi Review. He has been a Fulbright Scholar to Bulgaria and Romania.

Jason Irwin is the author of A Blister of Stars (Low Ghost, 2016), Watering the Dead (Pavement Saw Press, 2008), winner of the Transcontinental Poetry Award, and the chapbooks Where You Are (Night Ballet Press, 2014), and Some Days It’s A Love Story (Slipstream Press, 2005). He grew up in Dunkirk, NY, and now lives in Pittsburgh.