A few years ago, NPR sponsored a 3-minute fiction contest for stories that could be read in 3 minutes or less (fewer than 600 words). Nin Andrews was teaching a workshop and assigned the contest as a writing prompt. She sent one in, herself, and we were thrilled when Luis Alberto Urrea mentioned her story on air.
In honor of Mr. Urrea’s visit, and in conjunction with the NEA Big Read, we thought it would be fun to have a contest of our own. Two winners and two runners-up will be invited to read at the Fall Literary Festival October 5 at 7:00 before Festival keynote reader George Ella Lyon.
The contest is open to teens and adults who are current residents of Mahoning, Trumbull, Mercer and Lawrence Counties. One entry per person, please. Stories will be judged anonymously, and must be entered by August 31. Winners will be announced in September.
Join us Wednesday August 7, 7:00, The Soap Gallery, 117 S. Champion St., as we welcome acclaimed poets James Arthur, Cody Walker & Catherine Wing. Open mic to follow, emceed by Arya-Francesca Jenkins. We will also be celebrating National Raspberries and Cream Day with homemade ice cream.
James Arthur is the author of The Suicide’s Son and Charms Against Lightning. He has received the Amy Lowell Travelling Poetry Scholarship, a Hodder Fellowship, a Stegner Fellowship, a Discovery/The Nation Prize, a Fulbright Scholarship to Northern Ireland, and a Visiting Fellowship at Oxford. Arthur teaches at Johns Hopkins University.
Cody Walker directs Creative Writing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Author of poetry collections The Self-Styled No-Child and Shuffle and Breakdown. His work appears in The New York Times Magazine, The Yale Review and The Best American Poetry. He’s the co-director of the Bear River Writers’ Conference. Walker’s chapbook, The Trumpiad, was published on the last of Trump’s first 100 Days. Proceeds are being donated to the ACLU.
Catherine Wing is the author of two collections of poetry, Enter Invisible and Gin & Bleach. Her poems have been published in such journals as Poetry, The Nation, and Tin House. She teaches at Kent State University and is currently serving as the Director of the NEOMFA, the nation’s only consortial program in Creative Writing.
Summer Festival of the Arts is one of our favorite events of the year! We’ll be there with the “Where I’m From” poem template, in anticipation of Fall Literary Festival visiting writer George Ella Lyon and her international project.
We’ll also have paper sidewalk squares for visitors to decorate, in celebration of our poems stamped in sidewalk squares, part of the Words Made Visible project. We’ll dedicate them and introduce the poets at the Fall Literary Festival.
Stop by for information on the Fall Literary Festival and other programs, logo tumblers and tees (onesies!), and raffle tickets for that sweet bird bath. Find us in the nonprofit area, near Moser and Cushwa Halls.
This year we will also host readings in the adjacent author tent. What better place to showcase word artists than a maker fair! And what better gift to yourself or someone you care about than a signed book. We’re lucky to have so much talent in our community. Saturday, July 13
Marion Boyer 11:00-11:30
Rochelle Hurt 11:45-12:15
Bill Soldan 12:30-1:00
Nancy Christie 1:15-1:45
Rikki Santer 2:00-2:30
Karen Kotrba 2:45-3:15
Karen Schubert 3:30-4:00
Mari Alschuler 4:15-4:45
Sunday, July 14
Allison Pitinii Davis 11:30-12:00
Dom Fonce 12:15-12:45
Kathy Palumbo 1:00-1:30 Carbombs to Cookie Tables: Sean Posey, Elaine Arvan Andrews & Vince Guerrieri 1:45-2:15
Jimmy Sutman 2:30-3:00
Barbara Sabol 3:15-3:45
Jamie Marich 4:00-4:30
Have a great 4th, and we’ll see you on the 10th! We send out a special invitation to NEOMFA alumni, students & faculty. The open mic will be emceed by Joelle Lambert, so bring your poems & stories. Also, we’ll be celebrating National Piña Colada Day & National Pick Blueberries Day: a double-header! Wednesday July 10, 7:00, The Soap Gallery.
Alex DiFrancesco is a writer of fiction, creative nonfiction, and journalism who has published work in Tin House, The Washington Post, Pacific Standard, Brevity, and more. Their essay collection Psychopomps (Civil Coping Mechanisms Press) and their second novel All City (Seven Stories Press) were published in 2019. Their storytelling has been featured at The Fringe Festival, Life of the Law, The Queens Book Festival, and The Heart podcast. DiFrancesco is currently an MFA candidate at Cleveland State University. They can be found @DiFantastico on Twitter.
Noor Hindi (she/her) is a Palestinian-American poet who is currently pursuing her MFA in poetry through the NEOMFA program. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Winter Tangerine, Tinderbox Poetry, Glass Poetry, & Diode Poetry Journal. Hindi is the assistant poetry editor at The University of Akron Press and a reporter for The Devil Strip Magazine.
The Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County (PLYMC) with Lit Youngstown received a grant of $15,000 to host the NEA Big Read in Mahoning County. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.
Our selected book is Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea, also the September book in our Food for Thought book discussion series. Mr. Urrea will visit the Valley this fall, and there will be many activities relating to the book and its themes in a month-long calendar of events. Numerous electronic and hard copies will be available at the public library and branches, and at the two Barnes & Noble bookstores. The Youngstown Rotary will stock each of their Little Free Libraries with a copy, as well.
We are so grateful to the professional, hardworking staff at the public library for their partnership, to the NEA and Arts Midwest for selecting our proposal (one of only two in Ohio and 78 nationwide), and to the many community partners who agreed to host an event during our Big Read. We’ll share the calendar as soon as the ink dries.
After a summer hiatus, Food for Thought book discussion will start up in September with a series on being in the natural world. Each series’s books represents a cross-section of genres and contemporary voices, and this round we will read novels, nonfiction, and collections of poetry and short stories.
Food for Thought will meet the 2nd Wednesday from 6:00-7:00 at Cultivate Café, 901 Elm St., by Wick Park. Cultivate closes at 6:00, so if you’d like a bite to eat, please arrive early.
The books will be available from the YSU Barnes & Noble and we’ll find out which are at the public library, and which are available from the press.
September 17 (Fiction, Novel) Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea
*This discussion will be part of a special evening at the First Unitarian Church of Youngstown, 1105 Elm St., part of the Big Read calendar of activities:
5:30 Food for Thought Book discussion, Into the Beautiful North
6:30 Ethnic potluck
7:00 Traveling Stanzas, Wick Poetry Center
8:00 Youngstown Immigrant Narratives October (Cancelled for Big Read event) November 13 (Fiction, Novel) The Overstory by Richard Powers December 11 (Poetry) Oceanic by Aimee Nezhukumatathil January 8 (Fiction, Short Stories) For a Little While by Rick Bass February 12 (Nonfiction) The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells March 11 (Fiction, Novel) Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver April 8 (Nonfiction) The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health by David R. Montgomery, Anne Biklé May 13 (Nonfiction) Bringing Nature Home by Douglas Tallamy
When we read a book, we want to talk about it! If you feel that way, too, hope you’ll join us.
Sarah Davis is a Fiction student in the NEOMFA and will be graduating in Spring 2020 from Youngstown State University. She is the president of YSUrvivor, a student organization on campus based on the show Survivor. She is a lover of all things storytelling, superheroes, film, and television. She works as a teaching assistant for the English department at Youngstown State but also loves to craft and create anything and everything she can think of in her free time.
Join us Saturday, June 8, for LITerally A Picnic for all ages, at Bear’s Den Cabin in Mill Creek Park, from 5:30 – 8:30. We’re planning a BYOBBQ (Lit Youngstown will supply the condiments, garnishes, and grilling tools, guests bring their own [veggie] burgers and buns).
We’re putting together a poetry hike for those who are interested, also board games and nature collages. Should be a lot of fun. Please RSVP so we know how many to expect.