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.
Lit Youngstown presents a reading with Bonné de Blas, Monica Kaiser & Sheryl St. Germain, Wednesday May 1 @ 7:00 at The Soap Gallery, 117 S. Champion St. No open mic this month. We will also be celebrating National Chocolate Parfait Day.
Bonné de Blas is an MFA candidate in Poetry at the NEOMFA. She received an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee and a JD from Case Western Reserve University School of Law. She is the author of chapbooks The Act of Dwelling (NightBallet Press) and The Rule of Contraction (Kattywompus Press) and her essay in Older Queer Voices: The Intimacy of Survival, Lambert and Einstein, eds. received a Best of the Net nomination.
Monica Kaiser is a graduate assistant at Kent State University and is pursuing a NEOMFA creative writing degree. She is the author of Still Sifting, and is passionate about the environment, ecopoetics, conflict management, and how these genres intersect. She lives with her husband, son, two rabbits, and her father.
Sheryl St. Germain is a poet and essayist whose work has received numerous awards. Her most recent book, a poetry collection, The Small Door of Your Death, was published by Autumn House Press in 2018. Sheryl directs the M.F.A. program in Creative Writing at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, and is co-founder of the Words Without Walls program. 50 Miles (forthcoming, Etruscan Press) is a memoir in linked essays that addresses addiction and alcoholism. The book traces the life of the author’s son, Gray, a talented but troubled young man, and his death from a drug overdose at thirty, as well as the author’s own recovery from substance abuse.
Youngstown State University Writing Center Director Angela Messenger hosts February’s First Wednesday reading, featuring YSU students published in CROW: College Review of Writing. No open mic this month.
Wednesday, February 6 @ 7:00 at The Soap Gallery, 117 S. Champion St. Street parking.
We will also be celebrating National Chopsticks Day! Word on the street is somebody’s making pot stickers. Hope you can make it.
Join us for a conversation about Crossings: A Doctor-Soldier’s Story by Fall Literary Festival visiting writer Jon Kerstetter. Read more about the memoir here.
Food for Thought book discussion will meet at Cultivate Cafe, 901 Elm St., on Wednesday, November 14, 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 year’s selections by writers who have recently visited the Valley:
October 10 (Short stories) Lesley Nneka Arimah What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky
November 14 (Memoir) Jon Kerstetter Crossings: A Doctor-Soldier’s Story
December 12 (Poetry) Allison Pitinii Davis Line Study of a Motel Clerk
January 9 (Historical Novel) Robert Olmstead Savage Country
February 13 (Nonfiction) Austin Channing Brown I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made For Whiteness
March 13 (Novel, Speculative Fiction) Kelly Link Get in Trouble
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.
October’s First Wednesday Series Reading features local writer Nancy Christie and J. Everett Prewitt of Cleveland. We’ll meet at the Soap Gallery this time, 117 S. Champion St., at 7:15. An open mic will follow, emceed by Venise Abell.
Nancy Christie is the author of the fiction collection, Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories (a runner-up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Competition), the inspirational book, The Gifts Of Change and numerous short stories including one that was shortlisted for Pulp Literature’s 2016 The Raven Short Story Contest. She is also the founder of “Celebrate Short Fiction” Day and host of the monthly Monday Night Writers group in Canfield, OH. Her “Rut-Busting” Workshop for Writers helps participants identify their objectives, overcome self-imposed barriers and get out of their writing rut. For more information, visit her website at www.nancychristie.com.
J. Everett Prewitt is a Vietnam veteran and a former Army officer. He holds a B.A. from Lincoln University and an M.S. in Urban Studies from Cleveland State. His novel Snake Walkers won the Bronze Award for General Fiction in ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year contest, and was honored by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. A Long Way Back received numerous awards, including first place in the Independent Publishers of New England. A novella titled Something About Ann, and a series of short stories related to A Long Way Back including the award winning The Last Time I Saw Willie, will be available in 2017. Prewitt lives in Shaker Heights. http://eprewitt.com/
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
Student writers from YSU will read their essays selected for the publication CROW, Compose: A Review of Writing. The evening will be emceed by CROW editor and Writing Center Director Angela Messenger. Wednesday Feb. 1 at 7:00, Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts downtown. No open mic this month.
Congratulations to the featured writers and their essays: Jared Lyder “The Democracy Debate” Antonina Boggia “We’ll Carry On: Welcome to the Black Parade” Lexi Rager “Under the Skin of Eating Disorders” Tyler McClellan “The Wrath of the Gods” Casey Infante “Youngstown, OH: A Place to Go” Jill Blacksten “Paying College Athletes” Zameer Murad “Comic Books: For Better or Worse”
Mad props to Amanda Miller and Carly Carcelli, Writing Center graduate assistants, for spearheading much of this project the past two years.
So many incredible poets, fiction and non-fiction writers said Yes, and now they’re coming to the Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts stage on the First Wednesday of each month in 2017. Big thanks to Suzie’s for adding a speaker for the spoken word, and to you for coming out. An open mic will follow each reading except in February and April. If you’re inspired, bring some work to share.
January 4: Robert Miltner/Molly Fuller
We folded Molly Fuller’s stories into Storygami! at the Summer Festival of the Arts
We kick off our series with two fine writers from Kent State who taught a successful workshop on flash forms for Lit Youngstown last summer. Purple Cat will host us at the Purple Cat Productions Theater on W. Boardman.
February 1: YSU CROW: Compose: A Review of Writing
Angela Messenger introduces CROW at Feb. 2016 reading
YSU advisor Angela Messenger will host this evening’s student readings from the newest issue of CROW.
March 1: Sean Thomas Dougherty/Terry Murcko
Terry Murcko reads at the Jewish Community Center
Two soulful poets: Sean Thomas Dougherty is an acclaimed Erie poet, and Terry Murcko is a Youngstown literary icon.
April 5: Mark Winne
Food justice activist Mark Winne will join us from New Mexico. His visit is co-sponsored by St. John’s, and his book, Closing the Food Gap, will be a Food for Thought book club selection.
May 3: Lori Jakiela/David Giffels
David Giffels reads with Chris Jennings’s Canfield High School students
Lori Jakiela, author of memoir The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious, and David Giffels, author essay collection The Hard Way on Purpose, grace our stage.
June 7: Nin Andrews/Rochelle Hurt/Allison Davis Pitinii
We’ll be back at Purple Cat Productions for this terrific reading. Nin Andrews, who brought down the house (on her birthday!) when she read from Why God is a Woman, reads from her new book Miss August. Youngstown natives Alison Davis Pitinii (Line Study of a Motel Clerk) and Rochelle Hurt (In Which I Play the Runaway) visit home with their new books. You may have seen Rochelle and Allison read last April at the Soap Gallery.
July 5: Mike Foldes/Robert Pope
Mike Foldes, a Binghamton, NY, native and editor of the online journal Ragazine,will read from Sandy: Chronicles of a Superstorm, a volume of poetry and images.
Robert Pope’s novel is Jack’s Universe. He teaches fiction writing in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts.
August 2: Jason Irwin/Jen Ashburn/Roger Craik
From Pittsburgh, Jason Irwin is a poet and playwright and Jen Ashburn’s first poetry collection is The Light on the Wall.
Roger Craik, a retired professor of English at Kent State-Ashtabula, is the author of the poetry collection Down Stranger Roads.
September 6: Meg Johnson/Caryl Pagel
Poets Meg Johnson of Iowa State University, author of Inappropriate Sleepover and Caryl Pagel of Cleveland State, author of Twice Told, read from their work.
October 4: Nancy Christie/ J. Everett Prewitt
Nancy Christie at the open mic at Suzie’s
Local writer Nancy Christie is the author of a short fiction collection, two short fiction e-books, and a motivational book. J. Everett Prewitt is the author of mystery novels Snake Walkers and A Long Way Back; he lives in Cleveland.
November 1: Kevin Haworth/Steven Reese
National Endowment of the Arts fellow Kevin Haworth of Carlow University will read from his creative non-fiction and Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Director Steven Reese will read from his poetry.
December 6: Chris Alonso, Bill Soldan, Sara Tracey
Chris Alonso emcees the open mic at Suzie’s
NEOMFA Reunion Reading features Chris Alonso and Bill Soldan of Youngstown and Sara Tracey of Akron.