Fall Literary Festival

kristinavogelPlanning for the 5th Annual Fall Literary Festival in 2021 is underway!

We are thrilled to announce that our keynote will be Ross Gay. A Call for Papers is forthcoming. Hope you will join us!

4th Annual Fall Literary Festival
Via Videoconference
September 24-26, 2020, EST

I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
–Walt Whitman

This year’s theme is In Many Tongues: Constituents of the Barbaric Yawp.

This year’s conference will be centered around the theme In Many Tongues, a conversation bringing together writing and publishing, literary inclusion, translating and translation, dialect and dialog, atypical modes of speech, and the generational, political, ecological, and experimental elements that add to the wider literary conversation.

The conference will include creative readings, craft talks, workshops and panel discussions on writing, reading, teaching, performing, editing and publishing creative works. Highly acclaimed visiting faculty will share their experience and insights, and presenters from Ohio and beyond will speak on a variety of topics.

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Registration is closed.

The cost to attend the online 2020 Fall Literary Festival is $45, with a reduced price ($10) for part-time faculty and graduate students. Scholarships are available. Undergraduate and high school students may attend at no cost. Faculty members who would like to register a whole college or high school class are asked to please fill out this brief form.

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This year’s conference will take place on Zoom. We’ll miss the hugs, spontaneous conversations and cake, but we’ll do our best to recreate everything else.

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Anything you want!

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Not a concern!

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The comfort of your own home, and in your bunny slippers!

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Conference Schedule

Visit the Fall Lit Fest Book Fair!

Thursday, September 24

4:00 PM EST
Literary Arts Nonprofit Administrators Symposium

Planners and administrations, you are invited to a discussion on the nuts and bolts of running a program.
Moderator: Karen Schubert
Zoom Tech: Liz Hill

6:00 PM ESTcookietable

Opening: Youngstown State art students’ ekphrastic work engages with poems and stories by Fall Fest presenters
Introduction of Visiting Writers
Open mic for Fall Fest participants
Virtual cookie table, in honor of the publication of
Car Bombs to Cookie Tables Anthology 2nd Edition &
The Belt Cookie Table Book

Friday, September 25

Friday 10:00-11:00 AM EST
Session 1

Prose & Poetry Reading
Dorsey Craft, from Plunder
Kelly Ferguson, from “The Mermaid”
Moderator: Simmons Buntin

The Craft and Business of Publishing in the Midwest
Editor Larry Smith & Associate Editor Susanna Sharp-Schwacke, Bottom Dog Press
Moderator: Barbara George
Zoom Tech: Liz Hill
This panel will focus on the craft and business of Midwest literary publishing, particularly  Bottom Dog Press with its accent on publishing for underserved audiences.

Freeing Your Voice: How to overcome envy, self-doubt, and fear in order to tell the story that only YOU can tell
Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh
Moderator: Chris Gibowicz
Zoom Tech: Reaghan McCann
Whether you have dreamed about becoming a writer since you were eight or you are a recent convert to the written word, at some time or another all of us encounter barriers between the writing we do and the stories we so desperately want to tell. What holds us back? In this session, we’ll practice strategies for overcoming writers’ block, cultivating literary communities, embracing uncertainty, and developing a more joyful writing practice as we strive to become the writers and the people we want to be.

O Throat! O Trembling Throat! (This Gentle Call Is for You, My Love)
Paula Lambert
Moderator: Charles Malone
Zoom Tech: Carrie George
In a world where climate change has turned to climate crisis, birds are more than harbingers of myth and metaphor. Using both audio and visual aids—including birdsong from living and extinct bird species–this workshop offers the natural world as prompt for writing powerful new eco-poems. Participants will also receive a packet of bird-themed eco-poetry and resources for further, at-home inspiration.

QBF: Queering the Narrative
E.F. Schraeder
Moderator: Nora Hickey
Zoom Tech: Furaha Henry-Jones
In an effort to diversify character lineups and storylines, current fiction seems to include more representations of LGBTQ characters. But for writers who aren’t members of the LGBTQ community, there may be misunderstandings of how mainstream portrayals may contribute to negative perceptions and stereotypes.  In this workshop, we’ll discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly tropes of LGBTQ characterizations so writers can work toward moving beyond limiting portrayals. Techniques to deepen characterizations will be centered as we also consider LGBTQ voices and alternative sources to diversify reading and writing habits.

Friday 11:30 AM -12:30 PM EST
Session 2

Janet Wong’s Poetry Suitcase
Moderator: Marion Boyer
Zoom Tech: Carrie George
Many of us have been cleaning and clearing out our houses lately; what to do with those things that don’t “spark joy” but that we want to keep for sentimental reasons? Put them in a Poetry Suitcase! Pairing poems with props makes it fun and easy to share a love of poetry, one minute at a time. You can make a Poetry Suitcase for your family, your friends, or your school or library community. Janet Wong will share some fun and evocative examples from her Poetry Suitcase that will inspire you!
Janet Wong reads some Poetry Suitcase-inspired poems: “Volunteers” “Potatoes” “Lion” “Helping Our Neighbors”

Write Your Rust Belt Story
Jacqueline Marino
Moderator: Pamela Anderson
Zoom Tech: Laura Beadling
There are many great Youngstown stories, all of them personal. That’s one thing Jacqueline Marino has learned from editing two anthologies focused on the city. In this workshop, participants will write their own Rust Belt-hometown stories, focusing on the key elements featured in essays in the first or second Car Bombs to Cookie Tables anthology: a strong sense of place, an authentic narrator, and what Donald M. Murray called “that moment of discovery of a significant extra meaning that you and your reader share in the writing and reading of the essay.”

DIY Multi-media
David Essinger
Moderator: Furaha Henry-Jones
Zoom Tech: Janine Harrison
The editor of Slippery Elm is often asked what “counts” as multimedia. This workshop will show various successful approaches from recent contest finalists, and demonstrate productive techniques and technologies for transforming conventional texts into interactive and multimedia works.
David reads from his novel Running Out

Poetry Reading
: “Voices Raised”
Marjorie Maddox, Julie L. Moore & Shanna Powlus Wheeler
Moderator: Rochelle Hurt
Zoom Tech: Chris Gibowicz

How do voice and such intersecting roles as mothers, caregivers, educators, and citizens of the world influence our writing? Poets Marjorie Maddox, Julie L. Moore, and Shanna Powlus Wheeler will read work about, then open up discussion on, addressing personal, professional, and/or political themes, as well as how discovery, empathy, and risk impact our choices.

Marjorie Maddox reads “Treacherous Driving”

Friday 1:00-2:00 PM EST
Keynote: “Thank You Cleveland Good Night: How the reluctant writer becomes a performer
David Giffels
Host: Jacqueline Marino
Zoom Tech: Daynee Rosales

Sponsored by



Livestreamed on Lit Youngstown’s YouTube channel


Friday 2:30-3:30 PM EST
Session 3

Craft Talk
On Polyphony: Writing a Novel and Making Meaning in Dialogue with Others
Quincy Flowers
Moderator: Jayson Iwen

Collaborative World Building for Writers
Kelly Ferguson
Moderator: Rochelle Hurt
In this workshop participants will build a large-scale fictional world with other people. We will work in small groups to create a setting rich in details, quirks, and surprises. While this workshop has immediate application for speculative writers, anyone interested exploring how place affects writing, or thinks this sounds fun is welcome.

Full/Crescent Press Poetry Reading
Sayuri Ayers & Jason Kaufman
Moderator: Nick Gardner
Zoom Tech: Reaghan McCann
Whitman assures us there will be days “Of eyes that vainly crave the light.” Yet even in these, he tells us, we’ll find “that life exists and identity,/That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” In this Creative Reading, Sayuri Ayers (Mother/Wound) and Jason Kaufman (A Song Greater than I Am) explore the dark hallways of perinatal depression, asking what, in giving birth, we also give of ourselves. Hosted by Paula J. Lambert (Full/Crescent Press)

Writing the Middle Grade Novel
Tricia Springstubb
Moderator: Janine Harrison
Zoom Tech: Brian Faircloth
This interactive session will explore writing for readers aged eight to twelve–the golden age of reading. We’ll consider what makes a good middle grade story, examining character, plot, voice and theme. Tricia will offer examples from her own novels and from work by other authors, with emphasis on diversity and own voices. She’ll also lead brief writing prompts and a Q&A.

Friday 4:00-5:00 PM EST
Session 4

Janet Wong Master Class Part I (Limited Enrollment)
Moderator: Wendy Stewart
Over the course of two days, Janet Wong will work with a small group of writers via Zoom and Google Docs. On Friday, Janet will offer various writing prompts and we’ll do quick-writes together. Revise those poems on your own later in the day, post them on a Google Doc, and meet to discuss everyone’s poems together on Saturday. The goal: having all participants write multiple drafts of a poem where they have fun experimenting with rhyme, repetition, rhythm, voice, and other poetic devices.

The Family Line: From Genealogy Research to Memoir
Rob Colby
Moderator: Sarah McColl
Zoom Tech: Christian Anton Gerard
With new online genealogy tools and DNA testing, we have more information than ever about our ancestral past. How can writers mine this for memoir (or other literary forms) while avoiding the pitfalls of the dreaded “family tree report?” This participatory workshop asks: How does the ancestral past shape our present reality? How does family folklore shape identity formation? What changes transpire in our sense of identity when we make important genealogical discoveries? How can genealogy best be incorporated into reflective memoir? The workshop includes: a review of online and archival sources; an analytical framework for incorporating genealogy material; suggestions on how to write about genealogy material with careful attention to voice; a workshop exercise for participants to delve into their own family past.

Shameless Self-Promotion
Ken Schneck
Moderator: Simmons Buntin
If you write something in the woods and no one is around to read it, does it make a sound? No, it sure as heck does not. Marketing your work is essential to building your audience. Whether you want to get more people to read your words, pitch to an agent/publisher, or answer the question “What do you write?”, you need to know how to set yourself apart. Get inspired as we cover the basics of self-marketing from social media to websites to that ever-important elevator pitch. This work will strengthen your voice and build your confidence. Guaranteed.

Bound in the Bond of Life: Pittsburgh Writers Reflect on the Tree of Life Tragedy
Kevin Haworth, Beth Kissileff & Eric Lidji
Moderator: Jacob Labendz
Talk and creative reading featuring work from the forthcoming anthology Bound in the Bond of Life: Pittsburgh Writers Reflect on the Tree of Life Tragedy, to be published in October 2020 by University of Pittsburgh Press. The editors will discuss the process of assembling diverse voices for the anthology and readers will share selected work.

Friday 5:00-7:00 PM EST
Happy Hour! Join us for informal conversation.

Friday 7:00 PM EST
Creative Reading
Cynthia Atkins & Quincy Flowers
Livestreamed on Lit Youngstown’s YouTube channel
Moderator: Heather Dobbins
Zoom Tech: Christian Anton Gerard

Visit the Fall Lit Fest Book Fair!

Saturday, September 26

10:00-11:00 AM EST
Session 1

Place and Person: Fiction Voices in Real Worlds
EF Schraeder, DM Pulley, Susan Petrone, Meredith Doench, Annie Hogsett & Abby Vandiver
Moderator: Bonné DeBlas
Zoom Tech: Chris Gibowicz
This panel explores setting as a tool of voice. Setting can guide, restrict, and inspire the voices in creative work, and this panel of fiction writers will explore the ways in which writing about real locations impacts literary choices. They will discuss the pros and cons of fictional worlds that combine reality with invention. Topics considered will include how real places impact dialect, narrative, and dialog choices; how historical themes influence language, how/if alternate texts play a role in developing setting, and how real-world settings may inform, enhance and advance character development.

Poetry in Motion
Julie Stotz-Ghosh & Aubrey Jewel Rodgers
Moderator: Wendy Stewart
Zoom Tech: Carrie George
Poetry in Motion is a combination of creative writing with visual storytelling, collaborating diverse students with each other to invoke emotion. Students from the Liberal Arts Program create poems and stories and students from the Art and New Media Program illustrate and set the illustrations in time in the form of an animatic. Julie Stotz-Ghosh and Aubrey Jewel Rodgers will discuss the collaborative process between students in their creative writing and animation classes as they work to create Poetry in Motion.

Creative Reading
Charles Malone, from Working Hypothesis
Jeff Gundy, from Wind Farm
Moderator: Russell Brickey
Zoom Tech: Reaghan McCann

The Story Under Your Feet
Tricia Springstubb
Moderator: Furaha Henry-Jones
Zoom Tech: Liz Hill
Tricia will take participants through the process of finding the stories only they can tell, then turning those stories into picture books, chapter books or middle grade novels. We’ll consider who the audience for your story is, then work through the steps that turn an individual experience into a story with universal kid appeal.

Saturday 11:30-12:30 PM EST
Session 2

Carbombs to Cookie Tables: the Youngstown Anthology II
Henry J. Gomez, Paul Grilli, Jacqueline Marino & Amanda Nicole Miller
Moderator: Tricia D’Avignon
Zoom Tech: Reaghan McCann
The writers of three essays and one poem will read excerpts from the new edition of Car Bombs to Cookie Tables, published in June, 2020. The editor will give a brief introduction to the book and introduce the readers.

Recording Corona: Collecting Internal Experiences During Rapid External Change
Lou Barrett & Elaine Schleiffer
Moderator: Nick Gardner
Zoom Tech: Josh Nauman
Recording Corona is an ongoing public documentation project created by Lou Barrett and Elaine Schleiffer. The idea was simple: since we’re all separate now, we should find ways to write, share, and read each others’ stories. In actuality, this became a complex exploration of what feels safe to say in a changing world. As we solicited and received submissions, we had a front row seat to the universal struggle of adaptation. The resultant work demonstrates the labor and process of externalizing the interior journey, putting words back into mouths that have felt stymied or silenced.

Finding Your Voice in the Voices of Others
Toni Thayer
Moderator: Bonné DeBlas
Zoom Tech: Chris Gibowicz

This workshop uses close observation of the diction, syntax, rhythm, and style of a diverse range of writers to fuel playful, creative imitation, with the end result of expanding one’s own style. The workshop is appropriate for writers of prose, poetry, and plays.

Poetry Reading
Barbara Sabol & Lynn Levin
Moderator: Christian Anton Gerard
Zoom Tech: Heather Dobbins
Barbara Sabol, from Imagine a Town
Barbara reads three poems from Imagine a Town

Lynn Levin, from The Minor Virtues
Lynn reads “Training the Pea Tendrils” from The Minor Virtues

Saturday 12:00-12:45 PM EST
Janet Wong leads a poetry writing session for children ages 5 and up
Livestreamed on Lit Youngstown’s YouTube channel
Moderator: Anthony Manna

Janet Wong reads poem for children, “Look for Birds”GongGong and Susie

Saturday 1:00-2:00 PM EST
Session 3

Relatively Speaking: Writing about Family in Personal Essays and Memoirs
David Giffels
Moderator: Anastasios Mihalopoulos
Zoom Tech: Furaha Henry-Jones

Inside Out: An Interactive Workshop
Marjorie Maddox
Moderator: Pamela Anderson
The newly released book, Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises, teaches writing (and reading) from inside the poem, with plenty of tips and tricks for everyone in and out of the classroom. Chat with personification, dance with iambic, fish for sestinas, and text with a triolet. Geared toward young adult and middle grade poets—as well as teachers, parents, and all writers interested in experimenting with poetic form and technique—this book (and workshop) will jump-start your writing.
Marjorie reads from Inside Out

Poetry Reading
Nick Gardner, from So Marvelously Far
Piotr Gwiazda,
from Theory File
Amber Ree Robinson, from Strange Fruit
Moderator: Jonie McIntire
Zoom Tech: Reaghan McCann

Poets for Science Generative Workshop
Charles Malone & Carrie George
Moderator: Russell Brickey
The Wick Poetry Center’s Poets for Science project explores the intersection between the arts and the sciences. Poets are encouraged to consider their relationship with the natural world, including plants, animals, and weather. This generative workshop will ask participants to draw from their own experiences with science and nature to craft pledge poems: poems that honor the ecosystems of their homes. No prior poetic experience is necessary.

The Publishing Path
Literary Agent Lindsey Smith of Speilburg Literary Agency
Moderator: Tricia D’Avignon

Saturday 2:30-3:30 PM EST
Session 4

Janet Wong Master Class Part II (Limited Enrollment)
Moderator: Anthony Manna
Zoom Tech Janine Harrison
Over the course of two sessions, Janet Wong will work with a small group of writers via Zoom and Google Docs. On Friday, Janet will offer various writing prompts and we’ll do quick-writes together. Revise those poems on your own later in the day, post them on a Google Doc, and meet to discuss everyone’s poems together on Saturday. The goal: having all participants write multiple drafts of a poem where they have fun experimenting with rhyme, repetition, rhythm, voice, and other poetic devices.

Craft Talk
Writing into the Zone: Exotic Fruits of Nature & Nurture
Cynthia Atkins
Moderator: Christian Anton Gerard
Zoom Tech: Heather Dobbins

This craft talk will engage participants in thinking about what creates ‘the self’ that the writers speaks from to tell a story or a narrative.  How is the writing informed by the myriad ways we are composites of all the factors that make us human, and hence writers—location, memory, image, point of view?— How the story changes according to who is doing the telling.  We will talk about narrative structure, interior pathos, fairytales, magic, metaphor, using the tricks of the trade.  How are we informed in our work, and how does nature and nurture render our interior selves.  

Creative Reading
Kari Gunter-Seymour, from A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen
Susan Petrone, from The Heebie-Jeebie Girl
Larry Smith, from Mingo Junction
Larry reads for the Writers Conference of Northern Appalachia here
Moderator: Jayne Moore Waldrop
Zoom Tech: Reaghan McCann

Language Choices and Writing Choices
Dana Washington
Moderator: Anastasios Mihalopoulos
Zoom Tech: Brian Faircloth
Code-switching can convey rich layers of meaning through which language is used when, where, by whom, why, and how. This workshop will begin with examples from the bilingual movie, The Blue Diner; Gene Luen Chang’s graphic novel, American Born Chinese; and the late Toni Cade Bambara’s book of short stories, Gorilla, My Love, to examine ways code-switching can be represented in different media. Participants will then work either with their own stories or a provided prompt to experiment with representing code-switching to gracefully add deeper meaning to their work. Monolinguals welcome!

The Greenville Poets: Sustaining Literary Friendships Through the Years
Myrna Stone, Cathryn Essinger, David Lee Garrison, Suzanne Kelly, Belinda Rismiller, Aimee Noel
Moderator: Jonie McIntire
Zoom Tech: David Essinger
The Greenville Poets, a group of six writers from southwest Ohio, have been writing, publishing, and supporting each others’ creative efforts since 1986. They have 16 books in print, have received OAC grants, won numerous literary awards, and have publications in many prestige journals, such as Poetry, Michigan Quarterly, and The Antioch Review. Although their voices are all very different–ranging from formal literary work, to social commentary–they are most proud of their literary friendship, and they will be happy to share what it takes to keep a writers group motivated and productive through the years.

Saturday 4:00-5:00 PM EST
Panel: In Many Tongues
Cynthia Atkins, Quincy Flowers, David Giffels, Kevin Haworth, E.F. Schraeder, Janet Wong

Host: Barbara George
Moderator: Sarah McColl
Zoom Tech: Tricia D’Avignon
A discussion about the individual voice in writing and publishing, and questions of representation, cultural identity, accessibility, hegemony, translation, and other dynamics.

Saturday 7:00 PM EST
David Giffels Reads from Barnstorming Ohio
Livestreamed on Lit Youngstown’s YouTube channel
Host: Timothy Francisco
Zoom Tech: Daynee Rosales

Visit the Fall Lit Fest Book Fair!

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Visiting Writers

cynthia atkins

Cynthia Atkins is the author of Psyche’s Weathers, In The Event Of Full Disclosure, and Still-Life With God.  Her work has appeared in numerous journals. She has taught English and Creative Writing, most recently at Blue Ridge Community College, where she curated a quarterly reading series. Atkins is an Interviews Editor at American Microreviews and Interviews.  She earned her MFA from Columbia University, and fellowships and prizes from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The Writer’s Voice, and Writers@Work, with several nominations from The Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes.

Headshot 1

Quincy Flowers is a writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY. He holds graduate degrees from creative writing programs at the University of Houston and NYU, where he received a New York Times Fellowship. Awards include a grant from the Ludwig-Vogelstein Foundation and a residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts. His work has been published in Renaissance Noire, and Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, and performed on stage at The Bushwick Starr and The Public Theater.

David Giffels headshot 2020

David Giffels  is the author of six books of nonfiction, including Barnstorming Ohio: To Understand America, the memoirs Furnishing Eternity and All the Way Home, both winners of the Ohioana Book Award, and The Hard Way on Purpose, longlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Parade, The Iowa Review, Esquire, Grantland, and many other publications. He is a professor of English at the University of Akron, where he teaches in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts creative writing program.

janet wong

Janet Wong is a graduate of Yale Law School and a former lawyer who switched careers to become a children’s author. Her dramatic career change has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN’s Paula Zahn Show, and Radical Sabbatical. She is the author of more than 30 books for children and teens on a wide variety of subjects, including identity (A Suitcase of Seaweed & MORE), writing and revision (You Have to Write), diversity and community (Apple Pie 4th of July), peer pressure (Me and Rolly Maloo), chess (Alex and the Wednesday Chess Club), and yoga (Twist: Yoga Poems). A frequent featured speaker at literacy conferences, Wong has served as a member of several national committees, including the NCTE Poetry Committee and the ILA Notable Books for a Global Society committee. Together with Sylvia Vardell, she is the co-creator of The Poetry Friday Anthology series published by Pomelo Books.


By unfolding her life experiences in her creative work, Sayuri Ayers hopes to invite nuanced conversations on motherhood and mental illness. Sayuri’s poetry and prose have been widely published, and she has received grants from the Ohio Arts Council, Greater Columbus Arts Council, and VSA Ohio. Find her at sayuriayers.com.

Lou Barrett is the founder of Purpled Palm Press, and a queer writer living in Cleveland interested in showcasing people’s experiences in different ways whether it’s in their writing or storytelling shows. Now that’s become extremely important.

Rob Colby, PhD, attended Oberlin College where he studied everything but how to write properly. A few years back he had an awkward breakup and decided to put his thoughts down on paper. He hasn’t stopped scribbling since. A member of the Wild Goose Creative Writers Group in Columbus, Ohio, Rob is working on a memoir called The Family Line, about genealogy, family, and memory.

Dorsey Craft’s debut collection, PLUNDER, won the 2019 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry prize. She is also the author of a chapbook, THE PIRATE ANNE BONNY DANCES THE TARANTELLA. Her poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Massachusetts Review, Poetry Daily, Southern Indiana Review and elsewhere. She is currently a Ph.D candidate in poetry at FSU and a poetry editor at Southeast Review.

Meredith Doench is a lecturer of writing at the University of Dayton in Ohio. Her fiction and nonfiction has appeared in many literary journals. She served as a fiction editor at Camera Obscura: Journal of Literature and Photography and is the author of the Luce Hansen lesbian thriller series from Bold Strokes Books.

Cathryn Essinger is the author of four books of poetry—the most recent is The Apricot and the Moon, from Dos Madres Press. Her work has been featured on the Writer’s Almanac, reprinted in American Life in Poetry, and nominated for Pushcarts and Best of the Net.

Dave Essinger recorded and produced the audiobook of his recent novel Running Out, and has created and published several videopoems. He teaches creative writing and multimedia narrative at the University of Findlay, and curates Slippery Elm’s annual Multimedia Contest.

Kelly K. Ferguson is the author of My Life as Laura: How I Searched for Laura Ingalls Wilder and Found Myself. Her essays and fiction have appeared in New England Review, The Cincinnati Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Story South, and other publications. She is a journalism professor at Ohio University.

Nick Gardner’s is in his 7th year of recovery. He has one book of poetry, So Marvelously Far (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2019), and is currently enrolled in Bowling Green State University’s MFA in fiction writing where he is assistant editor at Mid-American Review.

David Lee Garrison was named Ohio Poet of the Year in 2014 for his book, Playing Bach in the DC Metro, the title poem of which was featured by Poet Laureate Ted Kooser on his website, American Life in Poetry, and read on the BBC in London. His latest is Carpeing the Diem: Poems about High School.

Barbara George is an assistant professor in English at the Kent Salem campus. She received an MS in Sustainability and an M.Ed in Reading from Slippery Rock University, and a Ph.D. in English from Kent State University. Barbara’s environmental writing includes environmental communication; rhetorical and discourse analysis of environmental movements and texts; feminist, environmental justice and intersectional movements within environmental texts; digital environmental literacies; and environmental narratives through creative nonfiction and visual art. 

Carrie George is an MFA candidate at the Northeast Ohio MFA program. She is the current graduate fellow at the Wick Poetry Center in Kent, Ohio. As fellow, Carrie has the opportunity to participate in various outreach programs and spread poetry throughout the community. Her work has appeared on Poets.org and in journals including Spectrum Literary Journal, Scribendi, Gordon Square Review, and Watershed Review.

Henry J. Gomez is a national political reporter for BuzzFeed News. A graduate of Boardman High School and Youngstown State University, he worked for 12 years at The Plain Dealer and its affiliate website, Cleveland.com, where he started as a business reporter before covering local government and becoming the newspaper’s political reporter.

Paul Grilli began documenting the industrial heritage of the Steel Valley at the turn of the century. His frantic efforts to photograph the steel mills that were so integral to Youngstown’s history prior to their demolition evolved into TheRustJungle.com, where he showcases his photographic preservation efforts, as well as those of others, and shares the memories of steelworkers who interact with the site.

Jeff Gundy’s eighth book of poems is Without a Plea (Bottom Dog, 2019). New poems and essays are in Georgia Review, The Sun, Kenyon Review, Forklift, Ohio, Christian Century, Image, Cincinnati Review, Terrain, and other journals. A former Fulbright lecturer in Salzburg, he teaches at Bluffton University in Ohio.

Kari Gunter-Seymour, 2020 Ohio Poet of the Year and Ohio Poet Laureate, is the author of A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions). A poem she wrote, supporting families living in poverty in Athens County, OH, went viral and was seen by over 102,000 people, resulting in thousands of dollars donated to her local food pantry.

Piotr Gwiazda’s recent titles include a volume of poems Aspects of Strangers (Moria Books, selected for “The Best Books of Poetry in 2015” by Scroll), a critical study U.S. Poetry in the Age of Empire, 1979-2012 (Palgrave Macmillan), and a translation of Grzegorz Wróblewski’s Zero Visibility (Phoneme Media). He is Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

Kevin Haworth is a novelist, essayist, and literary translator and winner of a 2016 NEA Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction. His most recent books are Far Out All My Life, an essay collection, and Rutu Modan: War, Love and Secrets, a book-length study of Israel’s most prominent comics artist. Haworth lives in Pittsburgh and teaches at Carnegie Mellon University.

Annie Hogsett grew up in a minuscule town in West Virginia. Add to that a couple of degrees in English literature and twenty years in advertising and you get a woman qualified to make stuff up. Annie’s the author of the Somebody’s Bound to Wind Up Dead Mysteries published by Sourcebooks/Poisoned Pen Press. She lives in a seriously feisty
neighborhood of the City of Cleveland, ten yards from Lake Erie, with her husband and a delinquent cat named Cujo. Annie has never won a $550 million lottery jackpot. The Devil’s Own Game is third in her series.

Poet and visual artist Jason Kaufman is the theatrical set designer at the Renaissance Theatre in Mansfield and contributing editor for Voices from the Borderlands, a blog about regional art, literature, and culture. Major influences on his work include fatherhood, backpacking, post-structuralism, Buddhism, theopoetics, and mental health advocacy.

Suzanne Kelly teaches commercial law at Wright State University. Her novel, Stolen Child, won the Thorpe Menn Literary Prize from the American Association of University Women, and her poems have appeared in many journals.

Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh is the author of Here Be Dragons: A Parent’s Guide to Rediscovering Purpose, Adventure, and the Unfathomable Joy of the Journey, a memoir about the sweet and wonderful misery of raising children with someone you love. She lives in Shaker Heights with her husband, their three kids, and an assortment of dying houseplants.

Beth Kissileff is the author of the novel Questioning Return and editor of the essay collections Reading Genesis: Beginnings and Reading Exodus: Journeys. She has taught at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Minnesota, Carleton College, Smith College, and Mount Holyoke College. Her writing has appeared in the Atlantic, Tablet, Religion News Service, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and the New York Times, as well as other places. She is the spouse of Rabbi Jonathan Perlman of New Light Congregation, who survived the October 27 attack by hiding himself and others.

Paula J. Lambert has received grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Greater Columbus Arts Council. Author of several collections of poetry, much of her work focuses on the anatomy of birds; digging into their bones, beaks, and feathers has led her to issues deeply personal and broadly political.

Lynn Levin’s poetry collection The Minor Virtues is listed as one of Spring 2020’s
best books by The Philadelphia Inquirer. Poet Ross Gay calls the book “a lovely honoring of the small, the minor sweetnesses that a life is made of.” Levin lives in Pennsylvania and teaches at Drexel University.

Eric Lidji is the director of the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives at the Senator John Heinz History Center. He is the author of John Riegert and The Seventeenth Generation: The Lifework of Rabbi Walter Jacob and a co-editor of Her Deeds Sing Her Praises: Profiles of Pittsburgh Jewish Women. He writes extensively about the Jewish history of Western Pennsylvania and hosts the local Jewish history podcast The Cornerstone. He has been overseeing the effort to preserve documentation of the October 27 attack.

Professor of English at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry, the story collection What She Was Saying; 4 children’s books—including Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises and A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry—and Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania.

Working Hypothesis, Charles Malone’s first full-length collection, is forthcoming with Finishing Line Press. A chapbook Questions About Circulation is out with Driftwood Press as part of the Adrift Chapbook Series. He edited the collection A Poetic Inventory of Rocky Mountain National Park with Wolverine Farm Publishing. Charles now works at the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University coordinating community outreach programs.

Jacqueline Marino is a journalism professor at Kent State University. She is the editor of Car Bombs to Cookie Tables, 2nd Edition (Belt Publishing, 2020) and a co-editor of the first edition, which was published in 2015. Her writing has been published in many regional and national outlets, including The Washington Post, Cleveland Magazine, and River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative.

Amanda Nicole Miller is an English instructor by day and roves the stacks at a library by night. She lives in Youngstown, with her husband; her Shih-Tzu, Winnie, and many ghosts. Yes, she had an amazing cookie table at her wedding. Find her on Twitter @studeno1.

Julie L. Moore is the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Full Worm Moon, which won a 2018 Woodrow Hall Top Shelf Award and received honorable mention for the Conference on Christianity and Literature’s 2018 Book of the Year. A Best of the Net and five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Moore is also the poetry editor for Relief Journal.

Aimee Noel writes from Dayton, Ohio. Her poems have been featured on NPR affiliates and published in Witness, Michigan Quarterly Review (forthcoming), Forklift, Ohio, and elsewhere. She earned Ohio Arts Council’s 2020 Individual Excellence Award and was OAC’s Summer Fellow at Provincetown’s Fine Arts Work Center.

Susan Petrone lives with one husband, one child, and far too many animals in Cleveland, Ohio, but traces her family history back to Youngstown’s Smoky Hollow and Brier Hill neighborhoods. She is the author of the novels Throw Like a Woman (2015), The Super Ladies (2018), and The Heebie-Jeebie Girl (2020).

D.M. Pulley has sold over a half a million books worldwide, and her work has been translated into eight different languages. Pulley’s historical mysteries shine a light into the darker side of life in the Midwest during the twentieth century, when cities like Detroit and Cleveland struggled to survive. Her latest novel is No One’s Home.

Belinda Rismiller is a founding member of The Greenville Poets. She has received two Professional Arts Awards, one from the Ohio Arts Council and one from the Darke County Arts Council. Her poetry has appeared in The Bitter Oleander and been heard on Conrad’s Corner on Public Radio WYSO.

Amber Ree Robinson is a junior majoring in English and Economics at Florida International University. In 2014, she competed in the 87th Scripps National Spelling Bee. When not writing, she enjoys reading current events, performing spoken word, and watching social justice films.

Aubrey Jewel Rodgers is a multimedia artist, teacher, and mentor in the Kalamazoo community. A graduate of Columbus College of Art and Design with a Masters in Art Education from Boston University, Aubrey’s teaching varies from mixed media to photography, video, and animation. As Animation/Game Art Program Coordinator and Instructor, she has evolved the animation program at KVCC to keep up with this ever-changing field.

Barbara Sabol’s second full-length book, Imagine a Town, was awarded the 2019 Sheila-Na-Gig Editions Poetry Prize. She is the author of Solitary Spin and two chapbooks. Barbara’s poetry has appeared widely in journals and anthologies. Her awards include an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. Barbara lives in Akron, Ohio.

Elaine Schleiffer is a community organizer, abortion advocate, loud queer, and poet who writes to, for, and from Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. Ken Schneck is the author of Seriously, What Am I Doing Here: The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew, LGBTQ Cleveland, LGBTQ Columbus and LGBTQ Cincinnati. He is the editor of Prizm, Ohio’s only statewide LGBTQ publication and a professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University.

E. F. Schraeder is the author of Ghastly Tales of Gaiety and Greed: Unauthorized and Haunted Cedar Point (Omnium Gatherum, 2020). The author of two poetry chapbooks, Schraeder holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. emphasizing applied ethics. Schraeder’s creative work has appeared in many journals and anthologies.

A part of Bottom Dog Press since 2002, Susanna Sharp-Schwacke is a graduate of BGSU: Firelands. She is a graphic designer and editor, and designs book covers and does manuscript layout. She is a recent widow, and the mother of 4 crazy cats.

Larry Smith, a native of the Ohio Valley, is a poet, fiction writer, biographer and editor-publisher at Bottom Dog Press. He is professor emeritus of Firelands College of BGSU.

Lindsey Smith is a published author, professional speaker and agent for The Speilberg Literary Agency.

Tricia Springstubb is the author of over a dozen books for young readers, including the middle grade novels What Happened on Fox Street, Moonpenny Island, Every Single Second (HarperCollins) and, coming in 2021, The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe (Holiday House). A frequent speaker in schools and at conferences, she lives in Cleveland Heights.

Myrna Stone is the author of five books of poetry. A two-time Ohioana Book Award Finalist, she has received three Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards, a Full Fellowship to Vermont Studio Center, the 2001 Ohio Poet of the Year Award, and the 2017 New Letters Prize in Poetry.

Julie Stotz-Ghosh’s writing has appeared in numerous publications and multi-media exhibitions. Her chapbook, All Sky, was the winner of the Celery City Chapbook Contest. She teaches at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and coordinates Kalamazoo Valley’s Visiting Writers Series. She earned an MA, MFA and Ph.D. from Western Michigan University.

Toni Thayer has received two Ohio Arts Council individual excellence awards — in 2020 for fiction and in 2016 for playwriting. She holds an MFA in Fiction from Goddard College and an MA in English from Cleveland State. She has taught at Cleveland State, Hathaway Brown School, and the old Lit Cleveland.

WALL STREET JOURNAL, USA TODAY and internationally bestselling author, Abby L. Vandiver, who also writes as Abby Collette, has penned more than twenty books and short stories. Her new cozy from Penguin Berkley, A DEADLY INSIDE SCOOP, is the first in the new Ice Cream Parlor Mystery series.

Dana Washington teaches writing in multiple genres, writing English for non-native speakers, and literature at Lock Haven University. She has studied eight languages and worked long ago as a speech/language therapist. She is a creative writer whose academic research interests include writing pedagogy, non-standard dialects of English, and language learning.

Shanna Powlus Wheeler is the author of two poetry collections, Lo & Behold (Finishing Line Press, 2009) and Evensong for Shadows (Resource Publications, 2018). Her poetry appears in a wide range of print and online publications. She teaches and directs academic support services at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA. www.shannapowluswheeler.com

Book Fair

Bottom Dog Press
Full/Crescent Press

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


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:

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

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

Lou Yuhasz Memorial Scholarship Winner: Steven Caumo

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

Lou Yuhasz Memorial Scholarship Winner: DT Dillon

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

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