Past Workshops

Lit Youngstown has previously offered these workshops. Thank you to our participants and facilitators!

Watch our Workshops page for current offerings.

Summer 2016 Workshops

Characterization Workshop

***Registration Closed*** Saturday, August 13, 1:00-4:00 p.m., Note change of location: Pressed Coffee Bar & Eatery, 215 Lincoln Ave. Not wheelchair accessible. Free parking on Lincoln Ave. Course fee: $15. 

The YSU English Department is on the second floor of DeBartolo Hall on Fifth Ave., between the Andrews Recreation & Wellness Center and the M2 Parking Deck. Parking is available in the deck for $5. Free street parking is available around Wick Park, and there are some metered spots on Lincoln Avenue. For a .pdf map of YSU, click here.

This workshop is designed for fiction writers, both teens and adults, who would like to focus on developing their characters. We’ll try a variety of techniques that have been successful for other writers. Although this workshop is geared for novelists, short story writers will also benefit. Bring a draft of your work in progress with you, along with whatever you prefer to write on (computer, iPad, paper, your choice), and come ready to write!

Meet the Instructor: Rebecca Barnhouse is a professor of English at YSU, where she teaches literature and fiction writing. She has published seven books, including three middle grade novels with Random House. One of those, The Coming of the Dragon, won both the Friends of American Writers Award and the Society of Midland Authors Award.

***Registration Now Closed*** Writing About Community

Saturdays, June 4 to July 16, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Friends Specialty, 101 W. Federal St. Course fee: $25.

From social media to local and national journalism, a lack of critical writing and research skills are often making topics of enormous importance more opaque than transparent. This class will guide writers who are interested in learning how to write in a concise and critical manner. We will analyze and bring historical research to bear on contemporary writing, and pay special attention to local topics and history.

Meet the Instructor: Sean T. Posey is a freelance writer, photographer and historian. He holds a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and a master’s degree in history from Youngstown State University. His work has been featured in a variety of publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle, CityLab and San Francisco Magazine and Car Bombs to Cookie Tables: The Youngstown Anthology and The Pittsburgh Anthology, both by Belt Publishing. His first book, Lost Youngstown, was released this April. He is currently working on election year coverage with Bill Moyers.

***Registration Now Closed***Spoken Word Poetry

Sunday, June 12, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., Oak Hill Collaborative, 507 Oak Hill Ave. Course fee: free with pre-registration before June 10. 

Spoken word poetry is a modern-day poetic form rooted in the traditions of African griots, the blues, charismatic preaching, and storytelling. This two-hour workshop will be an introduction to performance poetry that is intended for the stage and not the page. You will receive tools for both creating and performing poetry, voice and movement exercises, and an introduction to the wild, exciting world of poetry slams (spoken word competitions). No previous experience in spoken word poetry is required – bring your love of words and willingness to experiment.

Meet the Instructor: Rhonda Miska is a Dubuque, Iowa-based freelance writer and poet who teaches at Clarke University. Her writing has been in various print and online publications including The Sun, America, US Catholic, Global Sisters Report, and Millennial Journal. She is a contributing author and translator of Catholic Women Speak: Bringing Our Gifts to the Table (Paulist Press, 2015). She holds a master’s degree from Boston College where she got connected with the world of spoken word poetry through the Boston Poetry Slam. A lifetime lover of language with a background in music and theater, she is passionate about the spoken word and moving poetry from the page to the stage.

Brief Encounters of the Literary Kind: Writing Short Forms

Saturday, July 16, 3:00-5:00 p.m., Casa Ramirez, 1578 Mahoning Ave. Course fee: $15
***Registration Closed***

If you are a beginning writer or a busy one, short forms are for you. The popularity and expansion of digital journals has led to brief, compressed pieces that can be read on a single screen. This workshop will look at four common short forms: micro fictions, flash fictions, brief nonfiction, and narrative prose poems.  We’ll do writing exercises that will generate material that workshop attendees can locate into one of the four short forms of their choice, then share.  Look for lots of Q & A.

Meet the Instructors: Molly Fuller has published short work in NANO Fiction, Union Station Magazine, Potomac Magazine, Guide to Kulchur, and elsewhere, and has received awards from Sycamore Review, Blue Earth Review, and 94 Creations. Her flash sequence “Hold Your Breath” appeared in Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence (White Pine Press, 2016). She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and is a PhD Teaching Fellow at Kent State University.
Robert Miltner is the author of And Your Bird Can Sing: Short Fictions, and three award-winner collections of prose poetry: Hotel Utopia (New Rivers Press), Against the Simple (Kent State University Press/Wick Poetry Center), and Eurydice Rising (Red Berry Editions).  His brief nonfiction appears in Easter Iowa Review, Diagram, and The Los Angeles Review. He teaches at Kent State University and in the NEOMFA.

Characterization Workshop

***Registration Closed*** Saturday, August 13, 1:00-4:00 p.m., YSU English Dept. Course fee: $15. Please register here by July 30. No walk-ins, please.

The YSU English Department is on the second floor of DeBartolo Hall on Fifth Ave., between the Andrews Recreation & Wellness Center and the M2 Parking Deck. Parking is available in the deck for $5. Free street parking is available around Wick Park, and there are some metered spots on Lincoln Avenue. For a .pdf map of YSU, click here.

This workshop is designed for fiction writers, both teens and adults, who would like to focus on developing their characters. We’ll try a variety of techniques that have been successful for other writers. Although this workshop is geared for novelists, short story writers will also benefit. Bring a draft of your work in progress with you, along with whatever you prefer to write on (computer, iPad, paper, your choice), and come ready to write!

Meet the Instructor: Rebecca Barnhouse is a professor of English at YSU, where she teaches literature and fiction writing. She has published seven books, including three middle grade novels with Random House. One of those, The Coming of the Dragon, won both the Friends of American Writers Award and the Society of Midland Authors Award.

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Spring 2016 Workshops

Explore the literary art of children’s picture books. Try your hand at poetry translation. Learn more about query letters and agents. Get over your writer’s block. Come join us in the pursuit of strengthening our craft, spending time in a creative space, or attempting something completely new in a welcoming environment.

Our classes are taught by experienced and knowledgeable instructors. Class dates, times and locations are listed in the class descriptions, and all venues are wheelchair accessible. Please register early to guarantee your spot, and to help us gauge interest. To register, click on the registration link below the workshop description.

Our goal is to keep workshops affordable. Courses cost $25 for six sessions, $15 for “shorts,” payable in advance by check or PayPal. The fee allows us to pay our instructors for their work. Once the course has enough registrants to run, we will send you an email explaining how to pay. Refund Policy: You may request a refund from Lit Youngstown before the second week of class only.

Have an idea for a class you’d like to take or teach? Have questions about our classes? Email us at LitYoungstown@gmail.com.

SPRING 2016 CLASSES

***REGISTRATION CLOSED***Literature Class on Children’s Picture Books

Tuesdays, April 26-May 31, 6:30-8:00 pm, in the YSU English Department on the second floor of DeBartolo Hall, with access to Dr. Benton’s extensive personal collection of children’s books, as well as a document camera, overhead projector, and computer lab. Course fee: $25

DeBartolo Hall is on Fifth Avenue, between the Andrews Recreation & Wellness Center and the M2 Parking Deck. Parking is available in the deck for $5 per night. Free street parking is available around Wick Park, and there are some metered spots on Lincoln Avenue. For a .pdf map of YSU, click here. If you would like us to help you find a carpooling partner, let us know at LitYoungstown@gmail.com.

Whether your goal is to write books for children or to find interesting children’s books to share with youngsters in your life, the best way to learn about children’s literature is to read children’s books. In this workshop, we will examine the literary and artistic characteristics of picture books that have received recognition for excellence by children’s literature experts, as well as kid-pleasing books that were selected by children. You will also learn some of the strategies children’s literature experts use to find books for  young people.

Meet the Instructor: Terry Benton earned a bachelors degree in education from Youngstown State University with double majors in elementary education and secondary education-English; a masters degree in English, also from YSU; and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Kent State University. She is an assistant professor of English at YSU where she specializes in literature for young children.

***REGISTRATION CLOSED*** Translating Poetry—for Writers at Any Level

Tuesdays, March 15-April 19, 5-6:30, at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts, 32 North Phelps Street, Youngstown. Course fee: $25

This class is an introduction to the enormous pleasures—and challenges—of translating poetry. It is designed to accommodate those with no prior experience in poetry or foreign languages, as well as those with experience in both; participants can suit each translation task to their own abilities and ambitions. We will try prose translations, formal and free translations, the “after” translation, and the homophonic translation (especially fun), working from poems written in ancient Greek and Latin, as well as Spanish, French, German, and Romanian. The instructor will provide all materials necessary to complete the translations; participants need bring only their love of words.

Meet the Instructor: Steven Reese is a Professor of English at YSU. His translations, in journals and in book form, have appeared in the U. S. and abroad, and his most recent book of poems is American Dervish, from Salmon Press (Ireland). He directs the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts (NEOMFA) program in creative writing.

***REGISTRATION CLOSED***  The Business of Writing

Saturday, May 7, noon-2:00, at Friends Specialty Cafe at Fellows Riverside Gardens. Course fee: $15

This two-hour long seminar will take you through the various procedures that writers enter into after they have written an article, story, or full-length book manuscript. You’ll learn what goes into a good query letter to literary agents, what to expect from relationships with agents, acquiring editors, and publishing houses, and what to expect from the editorial process once a publishing house has acquired your manuscript.

Meet the Instructor: Christopher Barzak is the author of the Crawford Fantasy Award winning novel, One for Sorrow, which has been made into the major motion picture, Jamie Marks is Dead. His second novel, The Love We Share Without Knowing, was a finalist for the Nebula and James Tiptree Jr. Awards, and his most recent novel, Wonders of the Invisible World, won the Stonewall Honor Award from the American Library Association. He is also the author of Before and Afterlives, which won the 2013 Shirley Jackson Award for Best Short Story Collection. Christopher grew up in rural Ohio, has lived in a southern California beach town, the capital of Michigan, and has taught English outside of Tokyo, Japan, where he lived for two years. Currently he teaches fiction writing in the Northeast Ohio MFA program at Youngstown State University.

***REGISTRATION CLOSED***The Blank Page: Writer’s Block and How to Conquer It

Saturday, April 2, 11:00-1:00, at Joe Maxx Coffee, 47 Federal Plaza E. Course fee: $15

There’s nothing worse for a writer than staring at that blank page, waiting for the ideas to come. This workshop will focus on “writer’s block,” why it happens, and some tricks to help overcome it. The discussion will include tips on diagnosing why a writer might be blocked (the first step!), what professional writers have to say on the subject, and some exercises to get the ideas flowing again.

Meet the Instructor: James Hain is a graduate of the Northeast Ohio MFA (NEOMFA) program, and has had fiction published in Jenny, The Stolen Island Review, The Rubbertop Review, and Pennsylvania English. He teaches creative writing and composition at Youngstown State University.

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FALL 2015 WORKSHOPS

Writing Family Stories – Now Completed – Thank you to our participants and facilitators!

Tuesdays, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Sept. 8-Oct. 13 at The Pita Wrap, 4721 Market St, Boardman, OH 44512

We will focus on taking happenings from our own family memories and/or our family’s folklore and developing them into short stories that bring the characters to life through the various techniques of story writing. There’s a tendency in telling family stories to simply give a summary of events. Writers will learn techniques for transforming such summaries into real stories, with settings, dialogue, character development, and a style that lets the reader (family members or a broader audience) get to know the subjects as real people. Each session will include reading and discussion of writers’ stories as they develop them, aiming eventually to a finished product. All experience levels welcome.

Instructor Profile: Carmen Leone is a retired English professor (Edinboro University of PA, Youngstown State University). He has published several books focusing on family stories, as well as numerous poems, articles, and cartoons.   Check out his website: http://www.carmenjleone.com.

The Architecture of Verse: An Introduction to Formal Poetry

Thursdays, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Sept. 17-Oct. 22. at CityScape, 1 W Federal St # 604, Youngstown, OH 44503

In this hands-on workshop we will first cover the basics of prosody and scansion. Then we will learn about and write various types of sonnets, sestinas, villanelles, and syllabic verse. We will end with a look at poetic closure. This workshop is suitable for those 18 and older with some basic experience in reading, writing, and discussing poetry.

Instructor Profile: Mari Alschuler received an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University; her poetry and short fiction have been published in national journals since the mid 1970s. Her chapbook, The Nightmare of Falling Teeth, was published by Pudding House Press in 1998. A Registered Poetry Therapist, she leads an online poetic devices course for poetry therapy trainees. Mari is an LISW-S in private practice for poetry therapy, adult psychotherapy, and supervision in Poland, OH. She is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at YSU and coordinates the MSW program.

Intro to Screenwriting

Saturday mornings 11-12:30, Oct. 10-Nov. 14, Downtown Coffee Cafe, 29 Main St., Hubbard, OH 44425

Intro to Screenwriting is a creative writing course for beginners interested in developing screenplays for narrative movies.  We will be focusing on developing movie ideas that could be transformed into screenplays.  We will be looking at story concept, characterization, and the three act structure.  We will learn how to write treatments, character sketches, and perform other exercises that will help with the screenplay writing process.  We will also analyze movies to observe how screenplays are developed into films.  No prior knowledge is necessary.  Adults and teens, all experience levels welcome.

Instructor Profile: Teresa Leone has taught at Youngstown State University for 20 years.  She teaches composition writing, poetry writing, and screenwriting.  She has also taught a variety of creative writing courses and a Movie Magic Course (from writing a script to filming) for Liz Rubino Studios.  She is the co-coordinator of the yearly local area Dom Leone Writing Competition for students from grades 1-12.

Writing Dramatic Monologue for the Stage

Saturday mornings 10:30-12:00, Sept. 12-Oct. 17, Friends Specialty at the Garden Café, Fellows Riverside Garden, 123 McKinley Ave., Youngstown, OH 44509

The dramatic monologue is a poetic form in which a single character addresses a silent list at a critical moment and reveals him/herself and the dramatic situation. We will explore dramatic writing by examining the monologue, dissecting theatrical monologues, and discovering what the basic dramatic components are that make up the text. We will look at examples and workshop participants will write a dramatic monologue. Since dramatic monologues are meant to be hears, local actors will be invited in to read participants’ works followed by discussion of each piece.

Instructor Profile: Terry Shears is a retired Spanish and journalism teacher from Boardman High School who has also performed in more than seventy local stage productions. He is published in several journals and two of his plays, Foul Play and Just Someone at a Party, are being performed this season at the Youngstown Playhouse. Several of his short stories from a memoir collection, Stories from the Polio Years, have also been published.

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Summer 2015 Workshops

Playwrighting for Beginners Workshop (Adults) No experience with playwrighting necessary, but theater background a plus. Open to adults. Maximum enrollment, 10. Friday evenings. June 5-July 10, 6:00-7:30 p.m., the Youngstown Playhouse, 600 Playhouse Lane (off Glenwood Ave.). Each session we will discuss the production process of theater, approaches to writing, and styles of performance as they relate to the scenes we’re reading and writing for the workshop. We will be sharing each other’s work in progress. The goal is to complete whole scenes each playwright can call his/her own. The final session will be a staged reading of some of the works written during the workshop process. Instructor Profile: Jim Canacci has been involved in theater for more than 25 years. As an actor, director, designer, and playwright, he has worked in university, community, and regional productions. Most recently, he directed A Shakespeare Christmas Carol, a student-written production at Kent Trumbull Theatre, as well as his own original work,  Jonathan Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, for the Youth Theater at the Youngstown Playhouse. He is a graduate of Y.S.U.’s Theater and English Departments and has taught at Kent State University for 20 years.

Poetry Workshop (Teens)  All experience levels welcome. Open to teens. Maximum enrollment, 10. Thursdays 10am-12pm, June 18-July 23. YWCA, 25 W. Rayen Ave. What is poetry? Throughout our six weeks together, we will delve into the business of exploring answers to this question and many others including, but not limited to, Pablo Neruda’s “Why do trees conceal the splendor of their roots?” And Walt Whitman’s “What stranger miracles are there?” We will look to music, nature and ourselves to investigate the mystery of poetry. Instructor Profile: Lindsay Sinkovich has been an educator in Northeast Ohio for over a decade and has written for double that. Ms. Sinkovich has taught English and creative writing in youth prisons, community organizations, special education and vocational classrooms and currently teaches high school English to 9th-12th graders in a tiny rural district. To counterbalance life in institutions, she seeks, and finds at times, her truth in nature.

Writing The Short Story (Adults) All experience levels welcome. Open to adults. Maximum enrollment, 12. Sunday evenings, 6:15-7:45, May 31-July 5. Pressed Coffee Bar & Eatery, 215 Lincoln Ave. We will focus exclusively on the short story, an exciting and diverse form that requires a writer to utilize a much different set of tools than in a longform work. Short stories come in many shapes and sizes, and we will explore several, experimenting with different lengths, styles, and genres of short story. We will read some famous short stories, both classic and contemporary, and discuss what makes them tick. We will examine other sub-genres of the short story, including flash fiction and hint fiction (two shorter variations on the short story), and read examples of each. The bulk of the class will be devoted to workshopping the students’ own stories, in a friendly and constructive environment designed to help students improve their work through group discussion and instructor feedback. This course is designed for anyone who thinks they might like to write stories, but will especially focus on helping beginners who have a story to tell and would like to get it on paper. Instructor Profile: James Hain is a graduate of the Northeast Ohio MFA (NEOMFA) program, and has had fiction published in Jenny, The Stolen Island Review, The Rubbertop Review, and Pennsylvania English. He teaches creative writing and composition at Youngstown State University.

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Spring 2015 Workshops

Prose Poetry Workshop All experience levels welcome. Open to adults and teens. Maximum enrollment, 12. Thursdays March 12, 19 & 26, April 2, 16, & 23, 6:15-7:45 p.m., the Café at Wittenauer’s, 122 S. Main St., Poland. Course Description: Nin Andrews and Karen Schubert will lead a workshop about the prose poem, a form of poetry that is quite simply, poetry without line breaks. While traditional poems are written in verse, prose poems, like pure prose, are composed of sentences and paragraphs. But unlike prose, prose poems seek to incorporate the music and magic of poetry. Much of the pleasure of prose poetry is derived from its ability to mock and mimic other forms of writing. Some prose poems, for example, are tiny novellas. Others are like little parables, myths, or fairy tales. Or they might look like alumni news letters or questionnaires. Come try your hand at this fun and whimsical form. Instructor Profile: Nin Andrews is the author of five chapbooks and six full-length poetry collections including her most recent, Why God Is A Woman (April, 2015). Her work has been in many literary reviews and anthologies including The Best of the Prose Poem, Great American Prose Poems, and An Introduction to the Prose Poem. Karen Schubert’s most recent chapbook I Left My Wings on a Chair (Kent State Press, 2014) is a collection of prose poems, and she has prose poetry in many publications including Artful Dodge, The Prose-Poem Project, Water~Stone Review, The Fourth River and Knockout Literary Magazine. A graduate of Youngstown State University, she taught creative writing at several colleges, the English Festival at YSU, and Mill Creek Park.

Songwriting Workshop All experience levels welcome. Open to adults and teens. Maximum enrollment, 15. Mondays, March 16, 23 & 30, April 6, 13 & 20, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1105 Elm St., Youngstown. Course Description: Each week a different topic will be discussed, followed by an hour of lyric reading and/or song playing. A piano and guitar will be available for the students willing to play their songs for the class. Although it is not required, students are encouraged to bring lyrics to share with the class as well as any recorded material. A CD player and auxiliary input will be provided. The weekly topics will help students explore the many possible methods of writing a song. Peer evaluations will assist in the process of refining their songs. The overall goal of the class is to write songs we are happy to call our own. Coffee and snacks will be provided. Each student will receive a free copy of the three albums written and recorded by Jon Locketti. Instructor Profile: Jon Locketti has been a dedicated songwriter for over fourteen years. He has written over 100 songs and played original music in bands such as The Mill Creek Trio, First in Space, The Youngstown Tramps, Dog OK and The Trust Mission. Currently, he writes, records and performs as Jonny Locomotive and the Engineers with bassist, Eric Tharp and drummer, Ed Pokrivnak.

What’s Your Story? All experience levels welcome. Open to adults and teens. Maximum enrollment, 10. Tuesdays, March 10, 17, 24, & 31 and April 7 & 14, 6:30-8:30 p.m., First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1105 Elm St., Youngstown. Course Description: Draw your chair up close to the edge of the precipice and I’ll tell you a story. –F Scott Fitzgerald This class invites participants to take a story from their own experience and deepen it into a powerful, potentially healing tale ready to be told orally. We’ll explore why it matters that we tell our stories; oral vs written format; linking story and theme; and connecting to audience. We’ll have fun as we practice telling our stories to each other. Participants will be invited (but not required) to audition for Lit Youngstown’s inaugural Storytelling Night, to be held this summer. Instructor Profile: Liz Hill is a writer and spiritual director who has facilitated group sessions for writers and seekers at all levels of experience. She is the co-author of several novels for young adults and a non-fiction book on the spiritual practice of Singing Meditation. Her one-act play was featured in Youngstown Playhouse’s 2014 New Voices Festival. To learn more, see http://www.lizhill.net. This class is at maximum enrollment!

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