Fall Literary Festival

Literary Festival Logo DesignSecond Annual
Fall Literary Festival
September 21-22, 2018

This year’s festival will feature accomplished visiting writers, a book fair, a caucus for literary arts nonprofits, panels on many aspects of the literary arts, craft talks, workshops and readings in fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

Registration and Fee Schedule
Visiting Writers
Friday Schedule of Events
Friday Keynote Reading by Lesley Nneka Arimah
Saturday Schedule of Events
Saturday Reading by Jon Kerstetter
Travel, Lodging and Amenities
Community Partners

Early Bird Discounted Registration runs from July 15 to August 15.

Please register here. The registration form lists payment options.

If, after you have registered, you wish to pay by PayPal or credit card, you may purchase registration and meal options a la carte.

Early bird and presenter registration: $35. Registration and fee must be received by August 15. Late registration August 16-August 31: $75. September registration and walk-ins: $100.


Fall Literary Festival

Presenter & Early Bird Registration July 15-August 15



Sponsor a Writer

Help us make the conference available to students and struggling writers by funding a work-study scholarship.



Friday lunch is on your own, among the many eateries in and around Kilcawley Center at Youngstown State University.

Friday dinner, $15, pasta and salads (vegetarian friendly) at St. John’s Episcopal Church catered by our community partner Cultivate Cafe (a co-op of local growers and producers). Limited seating.


Friday Dinner at St. John’s Episcopal Church

Reservations open until August 31, or until all seats are taken.


Saturday dinner, $30, is an elegant 1/2 chicken dinner (soup and sides selected with vegetarians in mind) in the 12th floor ballroom of the DoubleTree, located in the historic Wick Tower (built in 1910).


Saturday Dinner at the DoubleTree-Hilton


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Visiting Writers

Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK and grew up wherever her father was

lesley arimah

Lesley Nneka Arimah

stationed for work, which was sometimes Nigeria. Her work has received grants and awards from Commonwealth Writers, AWP, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Jerome Foundation and others. She was selected for the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35. Her short story collection What It Means When a Man Falls From The Sky was published by Riverhead in April 2017. She currently lives in Minneapolis.

A lifelong reader, Jeanne Dutton’s interests expanded


Jeanne Dutton

after majoring in English in college to writing and publishing fiction. In 2009, she published her first novel for teens with HarperCollins. Freaked is the story of a teenaged boy obsessed with the Grateful Dead. She followed with a second novel in 2010 entitled Stranded, a mystery set in Iowa surrounding the discovery of an abandoned baby.

Jon Kerstetter, the author of Crossings: A Doctor-Soldier’s Story (Random House 2017), received his medical degree from the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota, and

Jon Kerstetter

Jon Kerstetter

his MFA degree from Ashland University in Ohio. He served as a combat physician and flight surgeon for the U.S. Army and completed three combat tours in Iraq. His writing has appeared in The Best American Essays, River Teeth, and other literary journals.

Jacqui Lipton, LL.B., M.F.A., Ph.D. is a law professor and writer as well as the director of


Jacqueline Lipton

Authography LLC, a company dedicated to helping authors and artists meet their personal and professional goals. She writes regular columns on legal issues for authors for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Bulletin, Savvy Authors, and Luna Station Quarterly. She holds an MFA in fiction writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a Ph.D. in law from Cambridge University. Her forthcoming book, LAW & AUTHORS: A LEGAL HANDBOOK FOR WRITERS will be published in 2019 by University of California Press.

Dave Lucas is the author of Weather (Georgia, 2011), which received the 2012 Ohioana Book Award in Poetry.  He is a

Dave 2016

Dave Lucas

co-founder of Brews + Prose at Market Garden Brewery and of Cleveland Book Week.  In 2018 he was appointed the second Poet Laureate of the State of Ohio.

Craig Paulenich is the author of two  books of poetry, Drift of the Hunt (Nobobdaddies Press, 2006) and Blood Will Tell (BlazeVOX  [books], 2009) and editor (with Kent Johnson) of the anthology, Beneath A Single Moon:  Buddhism in Contemporary American Poetry (Shambhala Press, 1991).  His poems have appeared in The Georgia Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, Kansas Quarterly, the Minnesota Review, the South Carolina Review, Southern Poetry Review, Artful Dodge, and many others.  He has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes.  He earned an MFA in Poetry at the University of Pittsburgh, a Ph.D. in English at Bowling Green State University, and is

Craig Paulenich

Craig Paulenich

Professor of English at Kent State University-Salem.  He is a co-founder and faculty with the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, the nation’s only creative writing consortium. He’s currently working on a book of poems about John Brown. He and his wife, Karla, live on a 27-acre farm outside Guilford Lake, Ohio.

Judith Vollmer is the author of five full-length books of poetry, including most recently The Apollonia Poems, awarded the University of Wisconsin Press Four Lakes Prize in 2016 and published last year.  She has received fellowships and residencies from the National Endowment

Judith Vollmer

Judith Vollmer

for the Arts, the Corporation of Yaddo, and the American Academy in Rome; and the Brittingham, the Cleveland State, and the Center for Book Arts publication awards.  Her poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in Poetry International, Poet Lore, The Cambridge Companion to Baudelaire, Prairie Schooner, The Women’s Review of Books, among many others. She teaches in the MFA Program in Poetry & Poetry in Translation at Drew University.
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Fall Literary Festival Schedule of Events

Friday September 21

9:00 Registration Opens  

9:30 Welcome 

10:00-10:50 Session 1

Poetry and Science: Adding the Artistic Perspective to Science-Based Presentations
Robert Wilson

The Edith Chase Symposium Association presents an annual symposium designed to educate the public on key water quality issues, such as the Lake Erie toxic algae crisis, or threats to Ohio groundwater resources. Speakers have generally been scientists, journalists, and environmental advocates. Beginning with 2017, we added poetry to the mix, focusing first on the Cuyahoga River in 2017, and on Lake Erie in 2018. This talk and discussion will consider why and how this approach fits in. We will look at chapbooks from the events, photos, poems and songs, and on how to expand the role of poetry in public discourse.

Hybrid Structures and the Lyric Essay
Amber Allen

An exploration of hybrid forms and lyric in creative nonfiction. We will begin by looking at examples of varying essay structures, including fragmented forms such as braiding, as well as paying attention to the poetic nature the personal essay can take. We will look at examples from Eula Biss, Maggie Nelson, Lily Hoang, among others. Generative exercises will follow.

After Twilight: Learning to Write Better by Using Published Works
Ivan Rodden

The Dadaists were onto something when they started cutting apart printed works to make new ones. Using Twilight, this workshop will give participants hands-on activities that can be used to practice better dialogue, stronger word choice, erasure poetry, and a variety of editing techniques. The exercises can be used to generate new work, inspire new ways of approaching one’s own texts, or used as language play in a variety of classroom settings. Also, marking up a printed book feels a bit subversive, and that makes it even more fun.

Creative Reading
Dianne Borsenik, Callista Buchen, Susanna Lang, J.D. Smith

Dianne Borsenik travels and performs her poetry throughout the Midwest. Lit Youngstown printed her poem “Disco” on their tee shirts, which makes her feel like a rock star. Borsenik, editor/publisher at NightBallet Press, lives in Elyria, Ohio, with husband James. Find her on Facebook and at www.dianneborsenik.com.

Callista Buchen is the author of the full-length collection Look Look Look (forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press) and the chapbooks The Bloody Planet (Black Lawrence Press) and Double-Mouthed (dancing girl press). She is an assistant professor at Franklin College, where she curates the creative writing reading series.

Susanna Lang reads from her most recent collection of poems, Travel Notes from the River Styx. Andrew McFayden-Ketchum writes that “Susanna Lang peers into the tiny mirrors of a river’s current, the mirror her father cannot see himself in, the rearview mirror in which she spies sandhill cranes on an afternoon drive as she interrogates the natural and, at times, unnatural world. The result is a collection of double images….” Her poem, “After You Get Up on Memorial Day” was featured by the Poetry Foundation and American Life in Poetry, the syndicated column of former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser.

J.D. Smith’s fourth collection, The Killing Tree, was published in 2016, and in 2007 he was awarded a Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. His other books include humor and essay collections and a children’s picture book.

Editing the Essay: Innovative Nonfiction
Sarah Minor, Thomas Mira y Lopez, Zach Savich

Three editors will discuss their experiences editing creative nonfiction that foregrounds formal or thematic experimentation. How can the editorial process best support innovative works? What are editors’ roles and responsibilities in that relationship? How do essays that may be “challenging” interact with contemporary publishing and its communities? The panel will offer insights into writing and submitting essays, reviews, and other forms of nonfiction for publication, including digital and multimedia works, and will includes samples of creative nonfiction that the panelists have edited for publications including DIAGRAM, the Kenyon Review, Rescue Press, Territory, TriQuarterly Review, and Tupelo Quarterly.

10:00-11:50 Sessions 1 & 2

Tour: Butler Institute of American Art
Ekphrasis Workshop with Karen Kotrba
Meet 9:55 by the Book Fair in the Chestnut Room 

Karen Kotrba is the author of She Who is Like a Mare: Poems of Mary Breckinridge and the Frontier Nursing Service. She is currently working on a collection of short stories set in East Liverpool, Ohio.

11:00-11:50  Session 2

What Editors Want: Inside a Literary Journal
Jess Holzapfel, Rochelle Hurt, Jenna Moses, Mark O’Connor

The staff of SLAB, a national literary magazine housed at Slippery Rock University and winner of the AWP Directors’ Prize for Undergraduate Magazines, will discuss the behind-the-scenes process of editing a literary journal, highlighting what they look for in submissions and how they make publication decisions as a team. Writers will get tips on how to make it past the slush pile when submitting, while educators and attendees interested in editing will get a look inside a successful university journal.

Dialogue: It Isn’t just About Talk
Rod Martinez

In this hands-on workshop, Rod Martinez will share the tried-and-true differences of dialogue and how we as writers have to understand the importance of the “talk.” With examples and exercises we will start with a quick 5-minute prompt exercise then dig into examples of dialogue from famous literary works. We will focus on the art of bringing characters to life with dialogue.

EcoPoetry: Water for Life
Susann Moeller

In this workshop, participants will come to know the difference between Nature Poetry and EcoPoetry. Addressing specifically the topic of Water, we will focus on exploring its qualities and characteristics juxtaposed to the various causes and effects of human impacts. A sample reading and some documentary clips will lead into hands-on writing exercises including prompts to elicit the creation of respective imagery such as the exploration of sounds, smells, sights, and tastes of water we want to reflect in a poem. To conclude, we will share our efforts generated individually as well as a team.

Creative Reading
Matthew Mitchell, Jacob Oet, Adam Reger

Matthew Mitchell is a Creative Writing major at Hiram College. His writing will appear in upcoming issues of Clockhouse, Lunch Ticket, and The Oakland Arts Review.

Jacob Oet is the author of chapbooks No Mark Spiral (forthcoming, Cutbank Press) and With Porcupine (winner of the 2015 Ruby Irene Prize). Their work appears in The Poetry Review, Sycamore Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Bennington Review, Colorado Review, and The Adroit Journal, among other publications. They are an MFA candidate in Poetry at Syracuse University, where they were awarded the Shirley Jackson Prize in Fiction.

Adam Reger is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh’s MFA program in fiction and lives in Pittsburgh, where he is a teacher of writing, a freelance writer and ghostwriter, and a stay-at-home father.

Shameless Self-Promotion for Writers
Lee Chilcote

Marketing your writing is essential to building an audience. Whether you want to get likes or shares for a post on social media, develop an effective author website, or simply answer the question “What do you do?” you need to understand the basics of self-marketing. Get inspired to share your work as presenter Lee Chilcote discusses the basics of self-marketing, including social media, email newsletters, author websites, setting up readings and more. We’ll look at examples of authors who have successfully marketed their work and you’ll practice fleshing out your own marketing ideas.

12:00-1:00 Lunch: On Our Own
There are eateries inside Kilcawley Center and in the Butler Institute of American Art, as well as within easy walking distance. Please reference the list of restaurants in your packet. 

12:15-1:00 Caucus: Administrators and Board Members of Literary Nonprofits
Grab a to-go lunch and join us in the Chestnut Room for a roundtable conversation. 

1:00-2:00 Ohio Poet Laureate Dave Lucas  

2:00-2:50 Session 3

Digging Deep In Memoir: How to Get Your Reader to Care
Dorit Sasson

A well-written memoir makes the reader care. In order to write a memoir that is relatable, the writer has to be willing to go deep. Using excerpts, this hands-on workshop will present strategies and techniques how to move from incidental or surface telling to a memoir built on reflective takeaways that gets the reader to care.

Haiku: A Myth Breaking Workshop
Joshua Gage

Come learn about haiku! Move beyond the myth of 5-7-5 in this workshop and learn what is currently happening with haiku locally and nationally. Participants in this workshop will learn about haiku principles and practices in the West, how haiku has been adapted to English, and practice writing their own haiku.

Visiting Writer Jacqui Lipton: Fiction Workshop
“Creating Tension on the Page: Desire + Obstacles = Conflict”

One of the things writers often struggle with the most in creating compelling fiction is to develop and maintain conflict and tension on the page. This is because we love our characters and don’t want them to suffer. How do we deal with this contradiction between wanting our protagonists to face, and hopefully overcome, challenges, and wanting to keep them safe? In this workshop we talk about the importance of throwing away that safety blanket and making our characters face their inner and outer demons. From page one, it’s important to give your character something that she really wants, and then throw obstacles in her way, allowing her to develop and grow through facing those challenges. This creates conflict and raises stakes, which creates the delicious tension that keeps readers turning pages. We’ll be doing some writing exercises so bring a paper and pencil or laptop or stone tablet or whatever else you have handy.


Creative Reading
Christopher Citro, Paula Lambert, Sara Moore Wagner, Susan Wojnar

Christopher Citro (http://christophercitro.com), author of The Maintenance of the Shimmy-Shammy (Steel Toe Books), received a 2018 Pushcart Prize for Poetry. Publications include poetry in Ploughshares, Crazyhorse, The Missouri Review, Gulf Coast, Best New Poets, and Alaska Quarterly Review, and creative nonfiction in Boulevard, Quarterly West, The Florida Review, Passages North, and Colorado Review.

Paula J. Lambert, author of The Ecstasy of Wanting, The Sudden Seduction of Gravity, and The Guilt That Gathers, is a Residency Artist for the Ohio Arts Council Arts Learning Program, past recipient of an OAC Individual Artist Fellowship, and founder of Full/Crescent Press.

Sara Moore Wagner is the Cincinnati based author of the chapbook Hooked Through (Five Oaks Press, 2017). Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies including Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Gulf Stream, Gigantic Sequins, Stirring, Reservoir, The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and Arsenic Lobster, among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, and was a recent finalist for the Tishman Review’s Edna St Vincent Millay Prize. Find her at www.saramoorewagner.com.

Susan Wojnar, a native of the Mahoning Valley, has recently completed her first manuscript of poetry, entitled Embrace the White Darkness. One of the poems from the manucript, “Twilight of the Ashes,” appears in the Fallen City Writers 2015 anthology. Ms. Wojnar is also an accomplished musician who performs regionally and writes music. She has released 2 CD’s of original material: Foolscircle and Catch 22. Ms. Wojnar obtained her MA in English from Youngstown State University and is a member of the Fallen City Writers.

Roundtable: Writing Contests: Benefits, Pitfalls, and Your Writing Career
David Armstrong, Ashley Cowger, Damien Cowger 

Writing Contests are both revered and maligned, and often provide writers with experiences—good and bad—they might otherwise not find in the regular search for publication. From the possibility of being paid considerably more to the dangers of predatory publishers and entry fees, this roundtable explores some factors that writers in all stages of their career might consider when approaching contests. Presented by editors and writers who’ve been on both sides of contests, this roundtable aims to arm fellow writers with the tools to approach contests wisely (and possibly increase the chance of winning them).

Beyond “Show Don’t Tell”
Adam Reger 

Fiction writers of all eras have heard the advice to “show, don’t tell.” But is this advice wise? Do we even *want* to read work that shows and doesn’t tell? Using sources ranging from Wayne Booth’s “The Rhetoric of Fiction” to recent, multiculturally focused insights from writers like Viet Thanh Nguyen, Adam Reger will explore this old chestnut and try to think beyond it.

3:00-3:50 Session 4
Editors’ Publishing Panel

5:00-7:00  Dinner
St. John’s Episcopal Church (limited seating, registration only)
Pasta & Salads Catered by Cultivate Cafe in Great Hall

7:00 Keynote: Lesley Nneka Arimah
St. John’s Episcopal Church (free and open to the public)
Q&A Bridgid Cassin

Cake Reception

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Saturday September 22

  9:30 Welcome

 10:00-10:50 Session 1

Visiting Writer Craig Paulenich Poetry Craft Talk or Workshop

Bill Mullane on Northeast Ohio Poet Kenneth Patchen

 In the spring of 1987 Bill Mullane organized a major celebration of Kenneth Patchen’s work in his home town of Warren, Ohio. Kenneth’s sisters and other members of his family were involved in four days of events, commemorative poetry readings and exhibitions. During this first gathering it was decided that the Trumbull Art Gallery with the support of the Ohio Arts Council would sponsor an annual Kenneth Patchen Festival to celebrate the poet’s work. Bill will reflect on the research and work done during the Kenneth Patchen Festivals and exhibitions held in Warren, Ohio between 1987 and 1992. We will look at Kenneth’s childhood, high school career and life in the Mahoning Valley and how they forever influenced his art.

Visiting Writer Jeanne Dutton: Drafting Nonfiction

Poetry and Pop Music: Exposing Poetry to Those Who May Need it Most
James Sutman

Jimmy Sutman is the founder/ Director of ISLE Inc./Purple Cat and the Daily Director of operations for Golden String Inc., a non-profit specializing in providing services for adults with disabilities such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, and Traumatic Brain Injury. Jimmy hosts “Oranges: Poetry and Pop Music” a show intertwining poetry and pop music on goldenstringradio.org, poetry for and about adults with disabilities, connections with nature and the human condition in writing, bringing poetry to a broader community.

Greetings from “The Glass City”
Don Cellini, Adrian Lime, Jonie McIntire, Kerry Trautman

Get to know four literary neighbors from the greater Toledo area as they present some of their poetry and information about their recent book publications. Toledo has a vibrant literary community, with regular poetry reading series and opportunities for out-of-town poets to come share their work in featured reading slots. Come enjoy this opportunity to familiarize yourself with a sampling of Toledo’s poetic voices, and to make connections with Northwest Ohio writers.

Don Cellini has translated several books by Mexican poets and dozens of individual poems for The Ofi Press where he is translation editor. His own work includes several books, most recently Candidates for Sainthood and Other Sinners/ Aprendices del santo y otros pecadores (2015) and Stone Poems (2016).

Adrian Lime is a founder of Almeda Street Poets and ToledoPoet.com. He helmed the annual Back to Jack [Kerouac] Reader’s Theatre for ten years, and was published in journals including Maladjusted and Americans for the Arts, and anthologies including Tuesday Nights at Sam & Andy’s Uptown Café (Westron Press, 2001).

Jonie McIntire authored Beyond the Sidewalk (Nightballet Press, 2017) and Not All Who Are Lost Wander (Finishing Line Press, 2016.) She hosts two monthly poetry series and was Poetry Editor at Toledo Streets Newspaper. Her work’s appeared in journals, anthologies, and concrete—for the Toledo Arts Commission’s Sidewalk Poetry series.

Kerry Trautman is a founder/admin for ToledoPoet.com, and a poetry editor for Red Fez. Her work has appeared in dozens of anthologies and journals. Her poetry chapbooks are Things That Come in Boxes (King Craft Press, 2012,) To Have Hoped (Finishing Line Press, 2015,) and Artifacts (NightBallet Press, 2017).

11:00-11:50 Session 2

Visiting Writer Jacqui Lipton: Prose Reading

Jacqui may be reading a few pages from her forthcoming nonfiction book on legal issues for authors–which she’ll be talking more about in her legal issues workshop. She may also surprise you with a flash fiction piece or two!

Visiting Writers Craig Paulenich & Judith Vollmer: Poetry Reading

Submitting Your Writing for Publication in the Contemporary Publishing World
Jessica Fischoff, John Gosslee

Contemporary Magazine and Book Publishing, editors of PANK magazine and books and C&R Press and Fjords Review talk about what they look for in a magazine or full-length manuscript submission and answer questions, while covering best submission and writing practices.

Jon Kerstetter Creative Nonfiction Talk or Workshop

 Luna Negra Staff Reading
Carrie George, Cameron Gorman, Joseph Mercer, Taylor Patterson, Regan Schell

Luna Negra is Kent State University’s literary arts journal! This creative reading features presentations of works from some staff writers and editors, and allows for an open mic period for the audience to share their work as well.

Cameron Gorman is the editor-in-chief of Luna Negra. Carrie George, Taylor Patterson, Regan Schell and Joseph Mercer are editors and writers on the staff. Luna Negra aims to amplify the voice and art of its community, and to make space for expression.

12:00-1:00 Catered Buffet Lunch for All Participants (included in registration)
The Hub 

1:00-1:50 Session 3

Writing with Your Ears: Sound and the Written Word
Bridgid Cassin

In this workshop, we will explore the auditory foundations of language and apply what we learn to our writing practice. This will include identifying our favorite letters and sounds, and listing words and phrases that appeal to us aurally. From creating these small pleasing units of language, we can brainstorm and generate new passages of prose that read well both on and off the page, or apply these principles in revision to see and hear the difference between drafts.

Visiting Writer Jeanne Dutton: YA reading

Visiting Writer Jacqui Lipton
“Copyrights, and Trademarks, and Contracts … Oh My!”

In this presentation, Jacqui will talk about some of the key legal issues you’ll confront as an author in the modern publishing world, including the impact of digital technology on legal questions. In particular, she’ll explain the recent furor in the romance publishing industry about trademarking book series titles, and how trademarks differ from copyrights. She’ll also talk about common clauses you’ll see in contracts with agents and publishers. We’ll leave plenty of time for questions so come along with anything you’ve always wanted to know but have been afraid to ask about the law of the publishing industry.

Punch Through the Envelope: How to Make an Editor Notice Your Work
Dianne Borsenik

This is an interactive presentation, with printed outlines given to each attendee. At each stage of the presentation, the audience is invited to ask any questions they might have about the editorial process, from query letter to submission to acceptance or rejection. “Insider secrets” about what turns the editor of a small press on or off to your work will be revealed and explored.

Lives Made Luminous: The Transformative Power of the Particular
Lisa Dordal, Celeste Gainey, Sheila Squillante

Poets Lisa Dordal, Mosaic of the Dark, Celeste Gainey, The Gaffer, and Sheila Squillante, Beautiful Nerve, use the transformative power of story and detail to explore desire, loss, identity, memory, and the relationship between the finite and infinite, the body and mind, in poems that are at times defiant, at times elegiac, and always celebratory of “the mysterious world that threads through us all.” For these poets, details about places, people, voices, objects, gestures, etc., provide a distinctive pathway to the luminous in poems that are transformative and performative, real and magical, transcendent and grounded, personal and universal.

2:00-2:50 Session 4

Visiting Writer Lesley Nneka Arimah: Craft Talk or Fiction Workshop 

Visiting Writer Judith Vollmer
Poetry Workshop & Craft Talk
“Sundials, Time, & Space in the Lyrical Narrative Poem”

This workshop will include two prompts and a brief craft talk.

Creative Reading
Arya-Francesca Jenkins & Mark Hanley, Karen Kotrba, Rebecca Ruark

Arya F. Jenkins will read from her short story, “The Blue Kiss” (based on a painting by Toulouse-Lautrec titled, “The Kiss”) included in her recently published jazz-inspired short story collection, Blue Songs in an Open Key, in collaboration with composer/musician Mark Hanley, who will accompany her with an original composition on electronic guitar.

Arya F. Jenkins’s poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction have been published in numerous journals and zines. Her poetry chapbook, Autumn Rumors, was just published by CW Books. Her jazz-inspired short story collection, Blue Songs in an Open Key, was also just published by Fomite Press.

Mark Hanley is an electronic music artist and composer who has played guitar professionally since the 1970s. He has collaborated with many artists and writers on diverse projects worldwide. His recent CD, Non-stop Now, was recorded partly in Tunisia. He and poet and writer Arya F. Jenkins have performed together previously.

Karen Kotrba is the author of She Who is Like a Mare: Poems of Mary Breckinridge and the Frontier Nursing Service. She is currently working on a collection of short stories set in East Liverpool, Ohio.

Rebecca Moon Ruark is a published writer interested in the exploration of place—specifically the Rust Belt. She writes stories set in her native Northeast Ohio and blogs as Rust Belt Girl, connecting online with authors, photographers, and readers in the region and beyond. Her favorite discussions include those on “ruin porn,” guest posts with regional photographers, and her author interviews with Akron, Ohio, memoirist David Giffels and with Pittsburgh-area native Amy Jo Burns, who wrote Cinderland and the forthcoming Shiner.

Bull’s-eye: How Two Women Beat the Odds, Built a Book, and Found a Publisher Mari Alschuler, Deirdra McAfee

Nothing says America louder than a gun. Firearms, interwoven with our history, ignite our language and pervade our culture. We rarely notice or even discuss them, because we disagree. Fictional guns are harder to handle than real ones. As writers Deirdra McAfee and BettyJoyce Nash discovered after publishing their own gun stories, fiction that uses firearms skillfully is rare. Intrigued, McAfee and Nash sought the best—stories from American masters and from writers across the country, including local writer Mari Alschuler. They’ll discuss building and finding a publisher for Lock & Load: Armed Fiction, great stories with guns in them.

Hiram College Writers: A Reading
M; Margo, Matthew Mitchell, Mary Quade, Sara Shearer

Four writers associated with Hiram College’s Creative Writing program and the Hiram Poetry Review—including faculty and current and alumni Creative Writing majors—read from their work. Imbedded in the deep literary history of Hiram student Vachel Linsday and Garrettsville-born Hart Crane, Hiram’s creative writing community thrives in the northeast corner of Portage County. This reading highlights the work of several recent writers from Hiram’s hill.

M; Margo is a person who writes and resides in Cleveland, Ohio. They are Founding Editor of Zoomoozophone Review and Publicity Director for Gold Wake Press. Margo’s most recent books are Pennine Hillsongs (The Haunted Mask II) (2018) and yr yr (2017), both published by Ghost City Press.

Matthew Mitchell is a Creative Writing major at Hiram College. His writing has been featured in Lunch Ticket Literary Journal and Cleveland Magazine, and is forthcoming in Mantra Review, The Oakland Arts Review, Clockhouse, POND Magazine, and Tammy.

Mary Quade is the author of Local Extinctions (Gold Wake) and Guide to Native Beasts (Cleveland State). A three-time recipient of Ohio Arts Council Individual Awards for both poetry and prose, she is an associate professor of English at Hiram College, where she teaches creative writing.

A 2017 graduate of Hiram College, Sara Shearer was named one of Literary Cleveland’s “5 Under 25” young writers in Northeast Ohio. As a student she won awards in Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, and Poetry. She currently works as a content writer at a thriving web design company in Akron.

Session 5
3:00-3:50 Writers’ Publishing Panel

 5:00-6:30 Dinner at DoubleTree-Hilton Downtown
(1/2 chicken dinner in 12th floor ballroom, registration only) 

7:00 Reading Jon Kerstetter
St. John’s Episcopal Church (free and open to the public) 

8:30 Open mic
DoubleTree-Hilton Downtown, 2nd floor Plaza Room
Cash bar in Plaza Room

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Lodging, Maps, Amenities


Parking is available for $5.00 per day at the Youngstown State University deck on the corner of Fifth and Lincoln Avenues.

Daytime sessions will be held in Kilcawley Center at Youngstown State University, a brief walk up the hill from the deck.


If you are traveling in, there are several lodging options. We have reserved a block of rooms at the newly renovated Hilton DoubleTree downtown. They are giving us the special reduced price of $125 per night.

To reserve a room by phone, call (330) 333-8284 and reference “Lit Youngstown Fall Literary Festival Rooming Block.”

To make a reservation online, follow these instructions:

  1. http://doubletree3.hilton.com/en/hotels/ohio/doubletree-by-hilton-youngstown-downtown-YNGDODT/index.html
  2. Choose proper date for stay 9/20 through 9/23
  3. Click “special rate code” option
  4. Enter LYF in group code space
  5. Click search

All of the festival’s activities are within a short walk of the DoubleTree, and Saturday dinner and the open mic will be there.

There are also hotels on the north and south sides of Youngstown, and several airbnb options, including the Idora Inn, an airbnb run by a community development nonprofit.


Uber is available in Youngstown. Unfortunately, Youngstown does not have passenger train or MegaBus service; however, the Greyhound Station is within comfortable walking distance of  the hotel and conference.

Youngstown State University offers disability services; to order golfcart escort call 330.941.1515.
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Community Partners

Please join us in thanking our community partners for helping to make the festival possible: the Nathalie & James Andrews Foundation, the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts, the Purple Cat, Sojourn to the Past, St. John’s Episcopal Church, YSU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, YSU Department of Women & Gender Studies, YSU English Department.

NEOMFA logo            logo_catSojournLogoTransparent (1)sj_transparent


Fall Literary Festival 2017

Literary Festival Logo Design

Lit Youngstown’s first Fall Literary Festival featured readings, craft talks, writing workshops and a publishing panel, by acclaimed and accomplished faculty from Ohio and around the country: Nin Andrews, Christopher Barzak, Kelly Bancroft, Suzana H. Case, Denise Duhamel, Robert Olmstead, Margo Taft Stever