Fall Literary Festival


3rd Annual
Fall Literary Festival
Youngstown, Ohio
October 4-5, 2019

Lit Youngstown’s Fall Literary Festival will take place October 4-5 in Youngstown, Ohio, about an hour southeast of Cleveland and northwest of Pittsburgh.

The two-day creative writing conference will include readings, craft talks, workshops and panel discussions on writing, reading and editing poetry, fiction, memoir and essay. Highly acclaimed visiting faculty will share their experience and insights, and presenters from Ohio and beyond, from Michigan to Maine to Maryland, will speak on a variety of topics. This year’s theme is cultural identity in writing and publishing, and we will  engage questions of inclusion, diaspora, dialect and intersectionality.

This year’s book fair will include Cleveland Drafts Literary Festival, Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts, Kenyon Review, Northeast Ohio of Fine Arts, Ohio Poetry Association,  Sheila-Na-Gig online/Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, Slippery Elm and Stranded Oak Press.

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General registration is $100. The graduate student and part-time faculty rate is $40. Youngstown State University students may register at no cost. Residents of Mahoning and Trumbull County are eligible to attend free, thanks to a grant from Ohio Humanities (125 seats are available on a first-come basis). Walk-ins only, please.

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Daytime programming will take place at Youngstown State University’s modern facilities in the Kilcawley Center. The historic St. John’s Episcopal Church will host Friday evening dinner, reading and reception. The Downtown Hilton DoubleTree will host Saturday evening dinner, reading and open mic.

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Saturday lunch is included with registration. Dinners are add-ons, and Friday lunch is on our own. Friday dinner will be delicious Middle Eastern fare catered by K’nafa. Saturday dinner will be an elegant meal in the Hilton DoubleTree, located in the restored 12th floor ballroom in the historic Stambaugh Building. There are also numerous restaurants in and around YSU and downtown.

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The Hilton DoubleTree offers parking for $10.00 per day. Youngstown State University’s parking decks on Fifth Avenue (M-60, enter on Arlington St.) and Wick Avenue (M30) cost $5.00 Friday. At the time of purchase, an overnight pass is no extra charge, and cars may be safely left until Saturday or Sunday. Saturday parking is free. There is free street parking at Wick Park, a block north of the YSU campus. All of the events are within a few blocks. St. John’s Episcopal Church has a free parking lot for evening events only. Downtown metered parking is free after 5:00.

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The Hilton DoubleTree is offering a special rate of $119 per night (2 beds) until September 4. Follow the link below and use the group code LIT.

Book a room »

There are also hotels and motels to the north and south of the city center, and numerous Airbnb offerings, including this 3rd floor walkup hosted by a neighborhood development nonprofit. View Airbnb options »

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Conference Schedule

Fall Fest Program PDF

Thursday October 3
7:00 Gathering In|Downtown Hilton DoubleTree 2nd Floor Lounge

Friday October 4
9:00 Registration & Coffee|YSU Kilcawley Center
9:30 Welcome by Youngstown State University College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Interim Dean Martha Pallante
9:30-4:00 Book Fair

Session 1 10-10:50

∝Creating a Festival of New Plays: Kelly Bancroft, Lora Oxenreiter, James Hain, Robert Joki
Moderator: Stephanie Stearns
∝Fiction Roundtable: Katie Passerotti, “So You’ve Written a Novel, Now What?”
Moderator: Allison Pitinii Davis
∝Poetry Workshop: Kari Gunter-Seymour, Building Atmosphere & Tension
Moderator: Maureen Reardon
∝Prose Reading: Rebecca Moon Ruark, Women at the Water’s Edge & David Swerdlow, Television Man
Moderator: Rod Martinez

Session 2 11-11:50

∝Poetry Reading, Jewish Poets: David Swerdlow, Philip Terman, Adrian Schnall
Moderator: Allison Pitinii Davis
∝Editor’s Panel: Hayley Mitchell Haugen, Sheila-Na-Gig online, Jessica Fischoff, [PANK], Jon Gosslee, Fjords Review
Moderator: Beth Franklin
∝Creative Nonfiction Workshop: Erica Cardwell “Are You Ready? Distance and Persona in Memoir
Moderator:  Rebecca Moon Ruark
∝Reading/Discussion: Sheryl St. Germain, Sarah Shotland, Holly Spencer, Karen Collazo: The Maenad Fellowship, Women in Recovery
Moderator: Kelly Bancroft

12-1 Lunch/On Our Own
12-1 Literary Arts Nonprofit Administrators’ Caucus

1-2 Philip Memmer “Where Community and Culture Collide”
Introduction: Matt Weinkam

Session 3 2-2:50

∝Philip Metres, “The Art of Losing and Other Visions of Revision”
Introduction: David Essinger
∝Poetry & Flash Fiction Reading: Kari Gunter-Seymour, “Where I Come From, It’s Pronounced Ap-Uh-Lach-Uh!” Allison Pitinii Davis, “Jewish Rust Belt Poetics,” Arya Francesca Jenkins, “Flash: Dramatic Interludes”
Moderator: Marion Boyer
∝Creative Nonfiction Workshop: Jill Christman, “Can I Say This?:  Writing Difficult Material”
Moderator: Lindsay Sinkovich
∝Poetry Workshop: Shannon Sankey, “Inviting Language of New Media into the #poem”
Moderator: Dianne Borsenik

Session 4 3-3:50
Memoir Reading: Jill Christman
Introduction: Allison Pitinii Davis

5:30-6:30 Dinner  St. John’s Episcopal Church
7:00 Lou Yuhasz Scholarship Winner Steven Caumo
Short Short Fiction Winner India Gatts
Reading Philip Metres & Erica Cardwell
Welcome: Rev. Gayle Catinella of St. John’s Episcopal Church
Introduction: Karen Schubert
Cake Reception

Saturday October 5
9:00 Registration & Coffee|YSU Kilcawley Center
9:30 Welcome
9:30-4:00 Book Fair

Session 1 10-10:50

∝Fiction Craft Talk: Michael Croley, “(E)motion: The Path to the Heart is Through Plot”
Introduction: Beth Franklin
∝Reading: Molly Fuller, Angie Mazakis, Melanie Murphy, Sony Ton-Aimé, “A Creative Reading of Hybrid Writing: Intersections, Diversions, and Genre Disruptions”
Moderator: Marion Boyer
∝Prose & Poetry Workshop: Marjorie Maddox, “Making Characters Their Own People”
Moderator: Allison Pitinii Davis
∝Carrigan Hayes & Margaret Koehler, “Of Protons and Poetry: Exploring Creativity across the STEM/Humanities Divide” & Danielle Rishell, “Science Fiction as Speculation and Demonstration”
Moderator: Lacie Semenovich

Session 2 11-11:50

∝Poetry Reading: Kathleen McGookey, “Prose poems from Instructions For My Imposter,” Marjorie Maddox, “Seeing Things: Poems on Depression and Dementia,” Hayley Mitchell Haugen, “The Lupus Poems”
Moderator: Jeffrey Murphy
∝Panel Discussion: Barbara Sabol, Christine Howey, Steve Abbott, Marion Boyer “Writing After 50”
Moderator: Steve Reese
∝Yahia Tahat, “Mohsin Hamid’s Changez: in Search of Identity” & Ann Kaiser, “Cultural Identity in ‘Minor’ Languages”
Moderator: Rebecca Moon Ruark
∝Fiction Craft Talk: Dana Washington, “Crisis of Imagination: When There’s Nothing New Under the Sun”
Moderator: Tricia D’Avignon

12-1:00 Lunch for All Attendees

Session 3 1-1:50

∝Prose Reading: Michael Croley & Christopher Barzak
Introduction: Quincy Flowers
∝Prose Poetry Craft Talk: Nin Andrews & Kathleen McGookey
Moderator: Pamela Anderson
∝Poetry Reading: Jessica Fischoff, The Desperate Measure of Undoing, Shannon Sankey, We Ran Rapturous: Poems on Disability, Marion Boyer, The Sea Was Never Far: Poems on Ancestry
Moderator: Allison Pitinii Davis
Poetry Reading
∝Words Made Visible Sidewalk Project Poets Read: David Lee Garrison, Laura Grace Weldon, Jeanne Bryner & Jeffrey Murphy
Moderator: Barbara Sabol

Session 4 2-2:50

∝Poetry Reading: Philip Memmer & Nin Andrews
Introduction: Allison Pitinii Davis
∝Prose Reading: Quincy Flowers, Canebreak: African-American mythmaking & Anne Elliott, The Artstars
Moderator: Nicole DiPiero
∝Editor’s Panel: Rebecca Moon Ruark, Blogger & Dom Fonce, Nathaniel Stokes & McKayla Rockwell, Volney Road Review
Moderator: Beth Franklin
∝George Ella Lyon, “Don’t You Remember? Finding Your Voice in Memoir”
Moderator: Toni Gallagher

Session 5 3-3:50

Panel: Cultural Identity in Writing & Publishing: Nin Andrews, Christopher Barzak, Erica Cardwell, Jill Christman, Michael Croley, George Ella Lyon, Philip Memmer, Philip Metres
Moderator: Noor Hindi
Introduction: Karen Schubert

4:30-5:30 Dedication: Words Made Visible Sidewalk Project
6-6:45 Dinner
7:00 Winners and Runners Up of NEA Big Read Short Short Fiction Contest
Open Contest:
Winner, Marlene H. Mikan “The Rickshaw Ride”
Runner-up, R.W. Franklin “Water Torture”
Teen Contest
Winner, India Gatts “A Gerbil, a Stepmom and a Second Chance” (India will read Friday evening at 7:00 at St. John’s)
Runner-up, Jordan A. Mccusker “Love’s Cliff”
Keynote Reading George Ella Lyon
Introduction: Anne Garwig
8:30 Open Mic

Visiting Writers


nin_andrewsNin Andrews’s poems have been published in Ploughshares, Agni, The Paris Review, and four editions of Best American Poetry.  The author of seven chapbooks and seven full-length poetry collections, she has won two Ohio individual artist grants, the Pearl Chapbook Contest, the Kent State University chapbook contest, the Gerald Cable Poetry Award, and the Ohioana 2016 Award for poetry. She is also the editor of a book of translations of the Belgian poet, Henri Michaux, called Someone Wants to Steal My Name.  Her next book, The Last Orgasm, will be published by Etruscan Press in 2020.


Chris BarzakChristopher Barzak is author of the Crawford Fantasy Award novel, One for Sorrow, made into Jamie Marks is Dead, a Sundance feature film. The Love We Share Without Knowing was a finalist for the Nebula Award and the James Tiptree Jr. Award. Wonders of the Invisible World, (Knopf, 2015) received the Stonewall Honor Award from the American Library Association. He is author of two collections: Birds and Birthdays, surrealist fantasy stories, and Before and Afterlives, supernatural fantasies, which won Best Collection in the 2013 Shirley Jackson Awards. He teaches fiction writing in the NEOMFA program at YSU.

erica_cardwellErica N. Cardwell is a culture critic, and radical educator based in New York.  She received her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Sarah Lawrence College and is a 2015 LAMBDA Fellow. Born on a full moon in Dayton, Ohio, Erica was raised in Amish Country, Pennsylvania. She has been a proud New Yorker for 19 years. Erica teaches English and Literature at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (CUNY) and a Social Justice capstone in the Gural Scholars Program at The New School. She has taught composition, literature, and creative writing at various colleges universities including Barnard College and UC Berkeley. Prior to this, she worked in youth development and arts administration at the Hetrick-Martin Institute for six years. Her writing has appeared in The Believer, Hyperallergic, Rewire, The Feminist Wire, Bitch Media, The London Progressive Journal, Contact Sheet 187: Light Work Annual, Green Mountains Review, Triangle House Review and elsewhere. In 2017, Erica received a scholarship from Vermont Studio Center as a writer in residence. Erica writes about Black women and Black artists.

Jill Christman is the author of two memoirs, Darkroom: A Family Exposure (winner of the AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction) and Borrowed Babies: Apprenticing for Motherhood, as well as essays in magazines such as Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, River Teeth, True Story, and O, The Oprah Magazine. She teaches creative nonfiction writing at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where she also serves as a Senior Editor for River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative. Visit her at www.jillchristman.com and @jill_christman.


CroleyHeadshot.sp19Michael Croley Michael Croley was born in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. He is the author of Any Other Place, a collection of stories.The recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Literature in 2016, his work has appeared in a number of publications, including Narrative, The Paris Review Daily, LitHub, and Kenyon Review Online. He teaches creative writing at Denison University.

george ella lyonGeorge Ella Lyon (pictured here with her fourth grade teacher), Kentucky Poet Laureate (2015-2016), has published in many genres, including poetry, picture books, novels, short stories, and a memoir. Her poem “Where I’m From” has gone around the world as a writing model. Recent collections include She Let Herself Go (LSU, 2012) and Many-Storied House (University Press of Kentucky, 2013). Lyon makes her living as a freelance writer and teacher. She and her husband, musician and writer Steve Lyon, have two grown sons.


Philip Memmer is the author of five books of poems, most recently Pantheon (Lost Horse Press 2019). His previous collections include The Storehouses of the Snow (Lost Horse Press 2012) and Lucifer: A Hagiography (Lost Horse Press 2009), winner of the Idaho Prize for Poetry. His work has appeared in such journals as Poetry, Poetry Northwest, and Poetry London, in many anthologies, and in the Library of Congress’s “Poetry 180” project. He is Executive Director of the Arts Branch of the YMCA of Greater Syracuse, where he founded the Downtown Writers Center in 2001. He is also Executive Editor of Stone Canoe, and Associate Editor for Tiger Bark Press.

Philip_MetresPhilip Metres is the author of ten books, including Shrapnel Maps (forthcoming 2020), The Sound of Listening (essays, 2018), Sand Opera (poems, 2015), Pictures at an Exhibition (poems, 2016), I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky (translations 2015), and others. His work has garnered a Lannan fellowship, two NEAs, six Ohio Arts Council Grants, the Hunt Prize, the Beatrice Hawley Award, two Arab American Book Awards, the Watson Fellowship, the Creative Workforce Fellowship, and the Cleveland Arts Prize. He is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University.

Please join us in thanking our Fall Literary Festival sponsors: the Nathalie & James Andrews Foundation, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Nancy Beeghly, Marion Boyer, Barbara Brothers, the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, Liz Hill, the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, Ohio Humanities, Purple Cat, St. John’s Episcopal Church,  Sojourn to the Past, the Youngstown Foundation, Youngstown State University College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, Youngstown State University English Department, Youngstown State University Women & Gender Studies

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The Second Lou Yuhasz Memorial Scholarship Winners


Congratulations to this year’s winner and runner-up! And a sincere thank you to all those who entered. We look forward to seeing you at the Festival.

First Place: “In Dreams I Walk With You” by Steven Caumo

Second Place: “Grease Guzzlers and Seven Mixers” by Kacie Prologo

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 graduated from Youngstown State University in 1999, with a BS in Secondary Education, concentrating on comprehensive communication. In his senior year, he was the assistant news editor at the Jambar covering the Academic Senate as YSU made the transition from quarters to semesters. He taught as a substitute for a year for Youngstown City Schools, before taking a job at a large health insurance company.

After ten years, and at the age of 48, Lou’s passion for creative writing and teaching led him to quit his job and join the NEOMFA program. Shortly after beginning school, he was diagnosed with stage II cancer of the esophagus. That didn’t stop him though, and he excelled in his classes.

His passion for his school and the program was contagious, and so was the happiness the NEOMFA brought him.  I’ve read a lot of my father’s work throughout my life, but something very special happened when he joined the NEOMFA program.

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:

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

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

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