We received many fine entries, and a big thank you to all of the writers who sent work our way. Thanks also to judges Anne Garwig, Liz Hill, Erin Phemester & Taylor Swan.
Congratulations to Open Contest Winner, “The Rickshaw Ride” by Marlene H. Mikan of Canfield and Runner-up, “Water Torture” by R.W. Franklin of Boardman.
Teen Contest Winner, “A Gerbil, a Stepmom and a Second Chance” by India Gatts of Austintown and Runner-up, “Love’s Cliff” by Jordan A. Mccusker of New Springfield.
Marlene H. Mikan, R.W. Franklin and Jordan A. Mccusker will read Saturday, October 5 at 7:00, before Fall Literary Festival keynote speaker George Ella Lyon. India Gatts will read Friday, October 4 at 7:00 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, before Erica Cardwell and Philip Metres.
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.
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.
Kelly Link was a recent visiting writer at YSU, and we have selected her book as part of our series of titles by recent author visitors to the Valley. About Get in Trouble, the New York Times writes, “It has taken Link 10 years to produce her new story collection, Get in Trouble, and it is just as brilliant as her last, Magic for Beginners.”
Food for Thought book discussion will be hosted by our community partnerCultivate Cafe, 901 Elm St., on Wednesday, March 13, from 6:00-7:00 pm. If you would like to order a bite to eat, please arrive well before the counter closes at 6:00. Haven’t read the book yet? No worries. Join us. Here are this series’ upcoming selections by writers who have recently visited the Valley:
April 10 (Memoir) Scott Simon | Unforgettable
May 15 (Nonfiction) Cokie Roberts | Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation
Save the dates! This year’s festivals will feature workshops, craft talks, a publishing panel, and readings by these accomplished visiting writers.
Please join us in thanking our community partners for helping to make the festival possible: the Nathalie & James Andrews Foundation, the Purple Cat, the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts, Sojourn to the Past, St. John’s Episcopal Church, YSU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, YSU Department of Women & Gender Studies, YSU English Department.
Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK and grew up wherever her father was stationed for work, which was sometimes Nigeria. Her work has received grants and
Lesley Nneka Arimah
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.
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.
John 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 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 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 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 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 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.
NEOMFA reunion reading Wednesday December 6! Join us for a reading of three Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts writers. Open mic to follow, emceed by Kayla Jeswald. The Soap Gallery, 117 S. Champion St. Doors open at 7:15, reading begins at 7:30.
Christopher R. Alonso was born and raised in Miami, FL. He is a writer, editor, flamenco dancer, and pianist. He is currently in his final year at the Northeast Ohio MFA program.
William R. Soldan grew up in and around Youngstown, Ohio, with brief stints in Columbus, Milwaukee, and the hills of southern Oregon. He holds a BA in English Literature from Youngstown State University and an MFA from the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts program. His work appears in publications such as New World Writing, Kentucky Review, Gordon Square Review, (b)OINK, Elm Leaves Journal, Anomaly Literary Journal, The Best American Mystery Stories 2017, Ohio’s Best Emerging Poets Anthology, and others. Currently he works as a trainer in a gym and teaches writing workshops in Youngstown, where he lives with his wife, community activist Rebecca Soldan, and their two children.
Sara Tracey is from Akron, Ohio. She is the author of Some Kind of Shelter (Misty Publications, 2013) and the chapbook Flood Year (dancing girl press, 2009). Sara graduated from the NEOMFA in 2007 and received her PhD in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2015.
Join us for a reading by fiction writer Robert Pope of Akron and Thomas Welsh, an author of A History of Jewish Youngstown and the Steel Valley. Open mic to follow, emceed by Bill Soldan. Wed. July 5, 7:00 at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts, 34 N. Phelps St.
Robert Pope has published a novel, Jack’s Universe, and a collection of stories, Private Acts, as well as over seventy stories and personal essays in journals, including most recently, The Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Two Thirds North. His flash fictions have appeared in print and online journals, including Chicago Literati, and his dark fiction in collections including Dark Lane Anthology. He just retired from The University of Akron and is reading and writing as much as he possibly can. He lives in Akron with his wife Lisa Sarkis and their dog Harley.
Founded in the Mahoning Valley during 1837, a tiny settlement of secular German immigrants grew into one of the most influential centers of Jewish life in the Midwest. Home to nationally renowned rabbis and Zionist firebrands alike, the community produced an astonishing array of leaders in an impressive range of fields throughout the twentieth century. This notable legacy ranges from the entertainment juggernaut of Warner Brothers to the Arby’s fast food empire and the prominent Youngstown Sheet & Tube, among many others. Authors Thomas Welsh, Joshua Foster and Gordon F. Morgan trace the unique history of one of Ohio’s oldest Jewish communities from its humble beginnings into the challenging climate of the new millennium.
Thomas Welsh is a professional writer and editor who grew up in the industrial center of Youngstown, Ohio. He is the author of Closing Chapters: Urban Change, Religious Reform, and the Decline of Youngstown’s Catholic Elementary Schools (Lexington Books, 2011), which describes factors that led to the collapse of an urban parochial school system. Thomas went on to coauthor Strouss’: Youngstown’s Dependable Store (History Press, 2012), a historical overview of one of the city’s landmark businesses, and Classic Restaurants of Youngstown (History Press, 2014), which tracks changes in the community’s restaurant industry. Before completing a doctorate in Cultural Foundations of Education at Kent State University in 2009, he worked as a journalist in the United States, South Korea, and Cambodia. He serves as outreach coordinator of the Etruscan Press, a non-profit literary press that works in close collaboration with the YSU Poetry Center.
Joshua Foster is an independent scholar and professional writer who grew up in a family that has been part of Youngstown, Ohio’s Jewish community for more than a century. As a fine arts and religious studies major at Youngstown State University, he established the YSU Jewish Students Organization and served as its first president. Joshua completed his graduate studies in urban history at Youngstown State University and produced several academic papers, including a historical examination of the Romaniote Jewish community of Ioannina, Greece. He has served as a featured speaker on local and regional television and radio programs.
Gordon F. Morgan is a professional writer and editor who grew up in the industrial town of Campbell, Ohio, located just east of Youngstown. After completing a graduate degree in professional writing and editing at Youngstown State University, he served as program director and newsletter editor for the Mahoning Valley Civil War Round Table, a group of more than 150 people who attend monthly presentations by leading experts on the Civil War. Gordon’s articles have appeared in regional periodicals including The Metro Monthly and The Vindicator. He is the coauthor of Classic Restaurants of Youngstown (History Press, 2014), a historical overview of the community’s restaurant industry.
Our monthly book club will take the summer off and start back up again in the fall with a new focus: the American experience, fiction, non-fiction and poetry with a range of voices and perspectives. We’ll look to the past, to various regions, and to voices that represent an array of experiences and expectations.
We also looked to our visiting writers for titles, and there are several. It is a unique pleasure to hear an author read, and then to read and discuss the author’s book with other readers.
Beginning in October, our book discussion will move to the 2nd Wed. of each month from 6:00 to 7:00, still at Cultivate Cafe, 901 Elm St.
Here is the book list. Check with the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County for copies.
September 14, 2017 The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar
October 11, 2017 The Coldest Night by Robert Olmstead
November 8, 2017 The Round House by Louse Erdrich December 13, 2017 Famous Drownings in Literary History by Kevin Haworth
January 10, 2018 March Trilogy by John Lewis
February 14, 2018 Citizen by Claudia Rankine
March 14, 2018 Phenomenal Women by Lit Youngstown
April 11, 2018 My Own Country by Abraham Verghese
May 9, 2018 Camp Olvido by Lawrence Coates
June 13, 2018 Blacksnake’s Path: The True Adventures of William Wells by William Heath
This month we will read and discuss Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. According to the New York Times:
Barbara Kingsolver’s new novel is all about sex, and she doesn’t waste much time on foreplay. As the book opens, Deanna Wolfe, a reclusive wildlife biologist on the far side of 40, is patrolling the woods on Zebulon Mountain, a wild patch of southern Appalachia where she works as a ranger. ”Here and now,” Kingsolver writes, ”spring heaved in its randy moment. Everywhere you looked, something was fighting for time, for light, the kiss of pollen, a connection of sperm and egg and another chance.”
Haven’t read the book yet? No worries. Come join us. 5:00-6:00, Thurs. March 9 at Cultivate Co-op Cafe, 901 Elm St. Please note the earlier time. (No potluck: the cafe will be open and serving.)
April 13: Closing the Food Gap by Mark Winne (See Mark Winne read Wed. April 5 at 7:00 at St. John’s Episcopal Church)
May 11: Immortal Milk: Adventures in Cheese by Eric LeMay
June 8: Salt: A World History by Mark Kulansky