The Hard Way on Purpose: Writing the Beauty of Unglamorous Places

Now more than ever, it is vital for writers of the Rust Belt to represent our sense of place with passion and insight. As politicians, commentators and the entertainment elite try to define us for their own purposes, we must observe and project the reality of our communities and the lives we live here. In this workshop, we will discuss techniques for writing about place, with an emphasis on the postindustrial landscape of Northeast Ohio. The session will include a writing exercise; participants should bring a notebook or laptop.

The Hard Way On Purpose: Friday, August 18, 3:00-4:30, St. John’s Episcopal Church,  323 Wick Ave. Course fee: $15. Register here.

David-Giffels-2013Meet the Teaching Artist: David Giffels is the author of The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches From the Rust Belt (Scribner 2014), nominated for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and the memoir All the Way Home (William Morrow/HarperCollins 2008), winner of the Ohioana Book Award. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic.com, Parade, the Wall Street Journal, Esquire.com, Grantland.com, Redbook, and many other publications. He also was a writer for the MTV series Beavis and Butt-Head. He is an associate professor of English at University of Akron, where he teaches creative nonfiction in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Program.

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Fall Literary Festival Registration Open

Literary Festival Logo Design

 

Fall Literary Festival

Lit Youngstown’s Fall Literary Festival features readings, craft talks, writing workshops and a publishing panel, by acclaimed and accomplished faculty from Ohio and around the country.

Please register soon. We will take walk-ins, but pre-registration will allow us to plan more efficiently. Register electronically here or print and mail registration here: fall fest registration. 

We look forward to seeing you there! In September, we will email more information about parking and other details. Questions? Email us at LitYoungstown@gmail.com.

Lit Youngstown Fall Literary Festival

Saturday, September 30, 2017
St. John’s Episcopal Church, 323 Wick Ave.
Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County, 305 Wick Ave.
McDonough Museum of Art, 525 Wick Ave.

Itinerary

8:00-9:00 St. John’s Episcopal Church Great Hall
Coffee, Pastries, Registration

8:30-9:45 St. John’s Episcopal Church Great Hall
Poetry Through an Editor’s Eyes, Slapering Hol Press editors Susana H. Case & Margo Taft Stever (bring two poems in progress)
Prose Workshop, Christopher Barzak
Memoir Workshop, Kelly Bancroft

10:00-10:50 Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County
“Laying the Foundation: Concrete Imagery in Poetry,” Denise Duhamel
“Writing Historical Fiction: The Ever Unfolding Drama,” Robert Olmstead
“Not the Whole Truth: Writing Memoir,” Kelly Bancroft

11:00-11:45 Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County
Fiction Reading, Robert Olmstead

12:00 St. John’s Episcopal Church Great Hall
Lunch by Cultivate Co-op Cafe

1:00-1:45, St. John’s Episcopal Church Sanctuary
Poetry Reading, Susana Case & Margo Taft Stever

2:00-3:00 McDonough Museum of Art
On Publishing: Discussion and Q&A with Nin Andrews, Kelly Bancroft, Christopher Barzak,  Susana Case, Denise Duhamel, Robert Olmstead, Margo Taft Stever

3:00-3:30 McDonough Museum of Art
Screening of Kelly Bancroft’s short film Arriving at Bessie
Cake by Selah Restaurant

3:45-4:45 St. John’s Episcopal Church Sanctuary
Poetry Reading: Nin Andrews & Denise Duhamel

Faculty

Nin Andrews’s poems and stories have appeared in Ploughshares, The Paris Review, Best American Poetry, Best American Prose Poems, Sudden Stories: A Mammoth Anthology of Miniscule Fiction, The House of Your Dreams: An International Collection of Prose Poems, Seriously Funny, and Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence. The recipient of two Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards, she is the author of six chapbooks and six full-length poetry collections. Why God Is a Woman won the 2016 Ohioana award in poetry; her most recent is Miss August (CavanKerry Press, 2017).

Kelly Bancroft won an Ohio Arts Council individual artist award and Ragdale writer residencies. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Puerto del Sol, Mudfish, XConnect, Jezebel and TIME, among others. A short documentary based on her family research was selected for this year’s Cleveland International Film Festival. She is currently working on a full-length play and short essays in memoir.

Christopher 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.

Susana H. Case is the author of five books of poetry, most recently, Drugstore Blue (Five Oaks Press, 2017)and 4 Rms w Vu from Mayapple Press, as well as four chapbooks. One of her collections, The Scottish Café, from Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press in Poland. Her poems appear widely in magazines and anthologies. Case is a Professor and Program Coordinator at the New York Institute of Technology in New York City.

Denise Duhamel’s most recent book of poetry is Scald (Pittsburgh, 2017). Blowout (Pittsburgh, 2013) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other titles include Ka-Ching! (Pittsburgh, 2009); Two and Two (Pittsburgh, 2005); Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems (Pittsburgh, 2001); The Star-Spangled Banner (Southern Illinois University Press, 1999); and Kinky (Orhisis, 1997).  She and Maureen Seaton co-authored CAPRICE (Collaborations: Collected, Uncollected, and New) (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015). Duhamel is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenhiem Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.  The guest editor is for The Best American Poetry 2013, she is a professor at Florida International University in Miami.

Robert Olmstead is the author of seven novels, the memoir Stay Here With Me, and River Dogs, a collection of short stories.  His three most recent novels, known as the Childs Trilogy: Coal Black Horse, Far Bright Star, and The Coldest Night, have been optioned by Casey Affleck.  Far Bright Star, declared one of the top ten westerns of the decade by Booklist will be directed by Affleck and star Joaquin Phoenix. Olmstead’s many awards include two Ohioana Book Awards, Amazon Top 100, Kirkus Top 25, Publisher’s Weekly Top 100, a Spur Award for Best Novel from the Western Writers of America, Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction, a #1 Pick Booksense, Senior Arts Fellowships from Ohio and Pennsylvania, Idaho Press Club Award and Black Warrior Review Fiction Award, as well as Fellowships from the NEA and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

Margo Taft Stever’s four poetry collections are The Lunatic Ball, Kattywompus Press, 2015; The Hudson Line, Main Street Rag, 2012; Frozen Spring, Mid-List Press First Series Award for Poetry, 2002; and Reading the Night Sky, Riverstone Poetry Chapbook Competition, 1996. In 2019, CRACKED PIANO, will be published by CavanKerry Press. Her poems have appeared widely in literary magazines and anthologies including Blackbird, Salamander, Prairie Schooner, Poem-A-Day, New England Review, Cincinnati Review, Rattapallax, Webster Review, Dire Elegies, Chance of a Ghost, and No More Masks. She is the founder of The Hudson Valley Writers’ Center and the founding and current co-editor of Slapering Hol Press. For more information, please see: www.margostever.com.

Profound thanks to our community partners, The Nathalie & James Andrews Foundation, St. John’s Episcopal Church, the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County, the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts, the McDonough Museum of Art, the Youngstown State University Department of English and Dr. Barbara Brothers.

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Lit Youngstown is proud to list The Fall Literary Festival in 100 Thousand Poets for Change, dedicated to using poetry as a means for creative voice, and as an expression of peace, justice and sustainability.

 

 

Thank You, Ohio Arts Council

With the announcement of our Ohio Arts Council grant, seems like a good time for an update on the Words Made Visible project.OAC_full-color-cmyk-logo

But first, woop woop! and so much thank you. With public funding on the chopping block, we are grateful to Governor Kasich and the Ohio Legislature for defending the value of the arts in our communities.

The panel discussion on our project was uplifting: Panelists noted that they liked the multidisciplinary nature of this proposal, that the activities truly work towards the goal of engaging as many writers as possible, that they are glad to see Lit Youngstown is encouraging new work, and considered Words Made Visible a fascinating idea to transform literary arts into visual arts, among other comments.

The first chunk of Words Made Visible is now finished: from many hundreds of submissions of poetry and short prose, the Lit Youngstown board selected ten finalists, then three winning poems and a set of haiku; of these winners, YSU student graphic designer Laura Garvin created a series of posters.

 

The featured poems are
“Men of Beautiful Countenance” by Craig Paulenich
“Feral” by Laura Grace Weldon
“The Neighborhood Girls Fall for the WKBN Meteorologist” by Allison Pitinii Davis
Haiku by Elliot Nicely & Valentina Ranaldi-Adams

With support from the YSU Summer Festival of the Arts, we gave out posters to hundreds of visitors to our tent, and hosted a reading by our project finalists, Dianne Borsenik, Luke Martinucci, Elliot Nicely & Craig Paulenich.

 

 

 

Next, in October, we will select four poems or short prose pieces to be letterpressed into broadsides by the Cranky Pressman.

Meanwhile, we will send the poems and stories to faculty in the Art Department at YSU, who will use the project in their classrooms, asking students to create visual work that responds to the literary work. Ceramics professor Missy McCormick’s summer class created such work, and here one pairing:

Feral
by Laura Grace Weldonceramic_feral

Moonlight leaks through the curtains.
I lie awake, listen to coyote songs
circle and connect, stitching together
the night’s raw edges.

Each time I hear their howls
my bone marrow sings.
What’s muzzled in me lifts.
I seem silent and
yet my pulse races through the trees.

 

These poems and their ekphrastic pieces in ceramics, printmaking, drawing and painting, will be exhibited at the Soap Gallery the month of February, 2018. There will be a reception and reading/response for the writers and artists Saturday, February 3.

We will also select four short works to be stamped into sidewalk squares by Michael Staaf at Metro Sign.

We hope you will join us along the way, celebrating the literary and visual arts, and their intriguing relationship.

Aug. First Wed. Reading at Suzie’s

Join us Wednesday August 2 at 7:00 at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts in downtown Youngstown, as we welcome three visiting poets. Open mic to follow, emceed by Brandon Noel of The Makeshift Poets.

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Jen Ashburn is the author of the full-length poetry collection The Light on the Wall, and has work in Chiron Review, Grey Sparrow, The MacGuffin, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Whiskey Island, and other journals. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Chatham University. Originally from southern Indiana, she spent four years in Japan and greater Asia, and now lives in Pittsburgh.

Roger Craik, Emeritus Professor of English at Kent State, has written four full-length poetry books: I Simply Stared (2002), Rhinoceros in Clumber Park (2003), The Darkening Green (2004), and Down Stranger Roads (2014); as well as two chapbooks. His poetry has appeared in national poetry journals such as The Formalist, Fulcrum, The Literary Review, The Atlanta Review and The Mississippi Review. He has been a Fulbright Scholar to Bulgaria and Romania.

Jason Irwin is the author of A Blister of Stars (Low Ghost, 2016), Watering the Dead (Pavement Saw Press, 2008), winner of the Transcontinental Poetry Award, and the chapbooks Where You Are (Night Ballet Press, 2014), and Some Days It’s A Love Story (Slipstream Press, 2005). He grew up in Dunkirk, NY, and now lives in Pittsburgh. www.jasonirwin.blogspot.com

 

¡Hasta la Vista, Amiga!

Lots of people stopped by at the Summer Festival of the Arts to give a liz (2)farewell hug to our founding co-director, Liz Hill. Liz is moving to lovely Ajijic, on Lake Chapala, Mexico, where her husband Matt will serve as the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church.

We are sad to see her go, and we are so grateful for the countless hours of work Liz has done to get us going in the right direction. A lot of what we do is behind the scenes, and Liz has kept the books, written grants, developed our bylaws and our board. She also orchestrated the Slice of Life Storytelling Night at the YWCA, and the publishing of Phenomenal Women: Twelve Youngstown Stories, both meaningful projects that led to profound insights into our community.

We will miss Liz’s generous spirit, bean soup, and wit; on our way to the AWP conference in D.C. we stopped for a coffee, and got out of the car a bit stiff from the long ride, which led Liz to sing, “The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be.”

We are also a little jealous. Look at Ajijic, how beautiful! Good journey, friend. We hope to keep Lit Youngstown going in a way that makes you proud.

Writers Circle & Ekphrastic Reading at YWCA

In conjunction with the 35th Annual Women Artists Show, Lit Youngstown will present a reading featuring ekphrasis, or poems and stories that respond to the visual art on exhibit. Join us at the YWCA of Youngstown, 25 W. Rayen at 6:00, to hear original work by Mari Alschuler, Kris Harrington, Arya-Francesca Jenkins & Shanon Maple.  

From 5:00 to 6:00, the Writers Circle critique group will meet in the conference room at the YWCA. Bring 5 copies of one poem or story excerpt, maximum 3 pages. Any experience level welcome. (If you’d like to critique longer writing projects, let’s make a plan!)

 

Lit Youngstown at Summer Festival of the Arts July 8-9

YSU’s Summer Festival of the Arts is the one of the highlights of our year!

And if that weren’t enough happiness, wait until you see the posters we’re giving away, designed by graphic artist Laura Garvin, featuring Words Made Visible poems by Valentina Ranaldi-Adams, Allison Pitinii Davis, Elliot Nicely, Craig Paulenich, & Laura Grace Weldon. We imagine the posters in classrooms, dorm rooms, writing rooms, waiting rooms, hallways, offices, doors, and everywhere.

feral_posterAt 2:00 Saturday in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center, Words Made Visible finalists Dianne Borsenik and Elliot Nicely of Cleveland, Luke Martinucci of the Lewis School in Youngstown and Craig Paulenich of Salem will read their award-winning poems.

Allison Pitinii Davis is the author of Line Study of a Motel Clerk (Baobab Press, 2017), a full-length collection about small family businesses in the Youngstown area, and Poppy Seeds (Kent State University Press, 2013), winner of the Wick Poetry Chapbook Prize. She holds an MFA from Ohio State University and fellowships from Stanford University’s Wallace Stegner program, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Severinghaus Beck Fund for Study at Vilnius Yiddish Institute. Her work has recently appeared in Best American Poetry 2016, Crazyhorse, and The Missouri Review. She will begin a PhD at The University of Tennessee in Fall 2017.

Luke Martinucci is 13 years old and has just completed eighth grade at the Valley Christian School Lewis Center in downtown Youngstown.  He live in Poland, Ohio.

Elliot Nicely is a poet and teacher from Lyme Township, Ohio. In recent years, he relocated to Lakewood, Ohio and released his first chapbook Tangled Shadows: Senryu and Haiku (Rosenberry Books, 2013). Over the last decade, his poetry has appeared across four continents and in more than a dozen anthologies.

Craig Paulenich is Professor of English at Kent State University-Salem, where he has worked since 1989; he lives outside Guilford Lake.

Lit Youngstown will be at the festival all weekend, Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 11-5. Thank you to our volunteers who have offered an hour or two in the tent! Sunday afternoon we’ll choose the winning ticket for a stunning, full-sized, hand-crafted quilt.

Stop by to hear the reading, pick up a poster, and cheer us on.