One chilly noon in January of 2015, a small group met at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts to discuss the idea of starting a literary arts organization. From that hopeful beginning, we have grown into a thriving non-profit organization with ongoing programming and numerous activities and collaborations.The hundreds of people working with us—visiting writers, teaching artists, workshop participants, board members, YSU interns, audience members, funders and volunteers—have created a Lit Youngstown community, and are proof to us that a literary arts organization has a place in Youngstown.
Painted silk scarf by Tracy Segreti and complementary bronze earrings handcrafted by Robyn Maas.
Painted Scarf and Earrings
Hand-turned curly ash bowl by Davey Jones (pictured below), finished with food-grade mineral oil and beeswax. Signed and numbered.
Bowl by Davey Jones
Bag of books written by local authors featured in our First Wed. reading series.
Bag of Books
Please donate before December 1 to be in the drawing, which will be held at our December 7 reading.
We are also seeking ten patrons willing to donate at the $500 level. At any level, your gift is tax deductible to the extent allowed by the law, and it is very much appreciated.
Our energy and motivation come from a deep belief that writing, reading, and storytelling, and being in the company of others engaged in these pursuits, strengthens our community and enriches our quality of life.
Our 2016 First Wednesday reading series featured faculty from YSU, Akron, and Bowling Green, U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Mercyhurst, and Hiram; students from Youngstown State, the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts and Canfield High School; readers from the fields of history, nursing and psychology; and essays written by incarcerated students. At our open mic after the readings, community members from age 12 to 70 shared their own writing. We also hosted readings at several art venues.
Our outreach work included reading food poems with adults with disabilities from the Purple Cat at Gallagher’s Lunchbucket, and book giveaways and community writing projects at several street fairs and festivals.
We collaborated with Selah Dessert Theater on the Strand Project, soliciting original monologues and staging their performance with local actors. Board member Kris Harrington spearheaded this project which played to a sold-out house and received rave reviews.
We have offered numerous writing workshops, with modest enrollment fees that have invited wide participation while allowing us to pay a stipend to teaching artists. We’ve also offered some free classes thanks to support from the Andrews Foundation.
Our newest project is Food for Thought, a food-themed book club and potluck, a collaboration with the Lake to River Food Co-op.
In mid-December, we will host a reception releasing our book Phenomenal Women: Twelve Youngstown Stories, at the beautiful, historic YWCA. The stories came from our interviews with twelve African American women between the ages of 64 and 101, with deep roots in Youngstown. Support from the Wean Foundation has allowed us to hire a professional photographer, layout editor and cover editor, and to have the book printed locally at City Printing. Co-director Liz Hill spearheaded this project, and we can’t wait to share these insightful stories with the community.
In February, we will take Lit Youngstown on the road, leading a panel with other literary organizations from the Great Lakes area at the prestigious Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in Washington, D.C.
Our established programs will continue. The 2017 reading series will feature novelists, non-fiction and short story writers and poets from as far away as Iowa and Maryland, and many talented writers from home. Our workshop series will run in spring, summer, and fall, featuring a variety of topics taught by experienced teaching artists. The second Strand Project’s call for dramatic monologue submissions has gone out, and our book-potluck club will continue to meet each month until summer.
How You Can Help
As our programming increases, so do our expenses, as well as the time it takes to run the organization. Our wonderful Board of Directors and dedicated Co-Directors have donated many hours to establish our programming and organization. We are grateful for support and encouragement from The Wean Foundation and the Andrews Foundation.
But we need your help to remain sustainable and continue to provide great programming. Your gift will help to support:
Marketing and outreach programs, to bring our offerings to a wider audience
Travel stipends to bring inspirational visiting writers from the region and beyond
Workshop scholarships to allow broader and more diverse participation
Development opportunities so our volunteers and staff can learn from other exemplary organizations and continue to offer top-notch programs.
We are grateful for support at any level. In addition, we are seeking Patrons willing to support us with a donation of $500. Giving at this level will help to ensure sustainability in some of our longer term goals.
Salary for a part-time director. A paid director will increase our opportunity for advocacy, research and development, including grant writing and connecting with literary arts centers around the country.
Rented space to allow us to hold classes or other events in one location with better parking and accessibility.
We thank you for being a supporter. We have gotten so far because of you.
With sincere thanks,
Karen Schubert & Liz Hill, Co-Directors