Fall Literary Festival 2021

kristinavogel5th Annual Fall Literary Festival
October 7-9, 2021
Youngstown, Ohio
Conference Theme: “Our Shared Story”
Visiting Writers: Ross Gay (poet & essayist), Jan Beatty (poet & memoirist), Matt Forrest Esenwine (children’s author), Bonnie Proudfoot (novelist & poet), & Mike Geither (playwright)


Lit Youngstown seeks proposals for Our Shared Story, 5th annual Fall Literary Festival, October 7-9 in Northeast Ohio, featuring Ross Gay, Jan Beatty, Matt Forrest Esenwine, Bonnie Proudfoot & Mike Geither. Special guest David Hassler.

General Information

This year’s conference will be centered around the theme “Our Shared Story,” a conversation about writing, publishing, community outreach, and literary inclusion. The conference aims to  sustain and enhance community by allowing its members to share a stake in its narrative: its story—past, present, and future. 

Sessions will be 60 minutes. Proposals may include panel and roundtable discussions, creative readings, or workshops. Group and individual proposal submissions are welcome. Individual presenters and creative readings may be grouped into panels by conference organizers. 

Individuals are limited to two proposal submissions, please. Accepted presenters will be required to register for the conference at the presenter rate of $45 (graduate students and contingent faculty $20; undergraduate students free; hardship scholarships available). The proposal deadline is February 28.

Please submit your proposal here.

Presentation Topics

We seek proposals from a diverse cross section of voices and experiences and encourage submissions from African American and Black, Latinx and Chicanx, Asian American, Appalachian, religious minority, disabled, blind and deaf, LGBTQ and non-binary, immigrant, native, rural, older, parent, and resource-poor writers. All genres are welcome and encouraged. 

Possible topics for proposals include:

Our Shared Story: Community voices
Engaging and sustaining a writing life
International, transnational, or diasporic literature
Responsibly engaging diverse voices and perspectives
Writers with disabilities
Writing about identity and marginalized experiences
Writing within the deaf community

Writing Collectively: Pedagogy, workshops, and outreach
Building writing communities 
Collaboration and mentoring
Creative writing outreach, oral history, narrative medicine
Creative writing pedagogy
Literary arts service learning 
MFA programs
Residencies, conferences and other opportunities
Strategies for teaching and researching writing

Publication and Marketing:
Children’s and YA writing and publishing
Lack of representation in publishing
Navigating the publishing industry as marginalized communities
Marketing and legal issues for writers
Older writers and publishing

Modalities—The page and beyond:
Blackout poetry
Comics & graphic novels
Digital presentation, poetry in code
Film & new media
Hybrid & short forms, flash
Literary topics in all genres
Oral performance of poetry, spoken word, hiphop 
Speculative fiction
Writing for mass media: journalism, blogging, podcasts, radio, etc

Craft, Criticism, and Translation:
Codeswitching and Dialect
Developing best practices in your craft
Literary criticism 
Translating and accessing works in translation

Book Fair Participant Registration

Welcome, presses, journals, programs, organizations and literary businesses! For more information and to register, please click here.

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Registration will open soon.

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Youngstown, Ohio

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Conference Schedule

Thursday, October 7

Evening Gathering-In

Book Fair
Friday, October 8 & Saturday, October 9

Bottom Dog Press
Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts
Sheila-Na-Gig Editions
Writers Association of Northern Appalachia

Friday, October 8
Saturday, October 9

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Visiting Writers

Jan Beatty’s sixth book, The Body Wars, was published in Fall, 2020 by the University
of Pittsburgh Press. In the words of Naomi Shihab Nye, “Jan Beatty’s new poems in The
Body Wars
shimmer with luminous connection, travel a big life and grand map of
encounters.” Beatty won the Red Hen Nonfiction Award for her memoir, American
forthcoming in 2021. Books include Jackknife: New and Collected Poems (2018
Paterson Prize) named by Sandra Cisneros on LitHub as her favorite book of 2019. Her
fourth book, The Switching/Yard, was named by Library Journal as one of “…30 New
Books That Will Help You Rediscover Poetry.” The Huffington Post called her one of ten
“advanced women poets for required reading.” Beatty’s work has been published in the
New York Times Sunday Magazine, Poetry, BuzzFeed, North American Review, and Best
American Poetry.
Other books include Red Sugar, Boneshaker, and Mad River, winner of
the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. For many years, Beatty worked as a waitress, an abortion counselor, and in maximum security prisons. She directs creative writing at Carlow University where she runs the Madwomen in the Attic writing workshops and is
Distinguished Writer in Residence of the MFA program.

Matt Forrest Esenwine is the author of children’s books Flashlight Night (Boyds
Mills & Kane, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (POW! Kids, 2018), and Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2021). His children’s poems have been published in anthologies including Lee Bennett Hopkins’ School People and Construction People (Wordsong, 2018/2020), J. Patrick Lewis’ The National Geographic Book of  Nature Poetry and The Poetry of US (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2015/2018) and Highlights for Children magazine. His poem “Apple Stealing” was nominated by the Young Adult Review Network for a Pushcart Prize; another poem, “Stone-Kicking,” was selected for inclusion in the Donald Hall tribute anthology, Except for Love (Encircle Pub.); and in 2019 he received the MacGregor Poetry Prize, coordinated by the Derry (NH) Public Library and the Robert Frost Farm board of trustees.

Photo Credit Natasha Komoda

Ross Gay is the author of four books of poetry: Against WhichBringing the Shovel Down; Be Holding; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His new poem, Be Holding, was released from the University of Pittsburgh Press in September of 2020. His collection of essays, The Book of Delights, was released by Algonquin Books in 2019. Ross is also the co-author, with Aimee Nezhukumatathil, of the chapbook “Lace and Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens,” in addition to being co-author, with Rosechard Wehrenberg, of the chapbook, “River.”  He is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin’in addition to being an editor with the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press.  Ross is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. He also works on The Tenderness Project with Shayla Lawson and Essence London. He has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Ross teaches at Indiana University.  

Mike Geither’s plays and solo performances have been staged in San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, New York and London. He is a four-time Ohio Arts Council fellow and has served as a resident artist at Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito and as Playwright-in-Residence at Cleveland Public Theatre. Recent works include The Body is the Best (Zuppa Theatre, Halifax, 2022), Heirloom (convergence-continuum, 2019), and The Events of the Warren County Fair as Observed by a Young Astronaut (2016-19).  He currently teaches in the NEOMFA at Cleveland State University.

Bonnie Proudfoot lives on a beautiful country road outside of Athens, Ohio. She has an MA in English from West Virginia University, and another MA in Creative Writing from Hollins University. She is a recipient of a Fellowship for the Arts in Creative Writing from the West Virginia Department of Culture and History, and has had fiction and poetry published in the Gettysburg Review, Kestrel, Quarter After Eight, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Northern Appalachia Review, and other journals. Her short story “Old Spirits” placed first in the 2020 Sand Hills Journal Short fiction competition. Goshen Road, her first novel, was published by Swallow Press in January of 2020, and it was selected by the Women’s National Book Association as one of their Great Group Reads for 2020. The novel is currently on the long list for the 2021 PEN/Hemingway award for a debut novel.


Book Fair


The Fall Literary Festival is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically.

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The Lou Yuhasz Memorial Scholarship

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Lou was an enthusiastic writer and Lit Youngstown volunteer and participant, and we miss him. To honor his spirit, we created this $100 scholarship for a current student in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts.

Lou’s daughter Jamie offered us this tribute.

Lou Yuhasz was a writer, a husband, a father, a friend, and above all, a teacher… He was a husband of 26 years, and raised two daughters. His support for his family was unparalleled. His office looked like something out of a Lovecraft novel, with tentacles and gargoyles scattered between the bookshelves housing various scifi and horror novels. He loved to write and tell stories, as well as teaching others the ability to create what they loved.  He would be proud and honored to have this scholarship enable people to follow their passion.

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Visiting Faculty Past Festivals:

2020: Cynthia Atkins, Quincy Flowers, David Giffels, Janet Wong

Sponsors & Partners: The Nathalie & James Andrews Foundation, Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, Mac’s Backs, Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts, Ohio Arts Council, Ohio Humanities, WYSU, Youngstown Foundation, Youngstown State University Beeghly College of Liberal Arts, Social Sciences & Education, Youngstown State University Center for Judaic & Holocaust Studies, Youngstown State University Department of English & World Languages

2019: Nin Andrews, Christopher Barzak, Erica Cardwell, Jill Christman, Michael Croley, George Ella Lyon, Philip Memmer, Philip Metres

Lou Yuhasz Memorial Scholarship Winner: Steven Caumo

Sponsors & Partners: The Nathalie & James Andrews Foundation, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Nancy Beeghly, Barbara Brothers, Marion Boyer, Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, Liz Hill, Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts, Ohio Arts Council, Ohio Humanities, Purple Cat, Sojourn to the Past, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Youngstown Foundation, Youngstown State University Department of English, Youngstown State University Department of Women & Gender Studies, Youngstown State University English Department

2018: Lesley Nneka Arimah, Jeanne Dutton, Jon Kerstetter, Jacqueline Lipton, Dave Lucas, Craig Paulenich, Judith Vollmer

Lou Yuhasz Memorial Scholarship Winner: DT Dillon

Sponsors & Partners: The Nathalie & James Andrews Foundation, Nancy Beeghly, Liz Hill, Kent State University Wick Poetry Center, Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts, Ohio Arts Council, Purple Cat, Sojourn to the Past, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Youngstown State University College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, Youngstown State University Department of Women & Gender Studies, Youngstown State University English Department

2017: Nin Andrews, Christopher Barzak, Kelly Bancroft, Suzana H. Case, Denise Duhamel, Robert Olmstead, Margo Taft Stever

Sponsors & Partners: Nathalie & James Andrews Foundation, Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County, St. John’s Episcopal Church

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