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.
Join us Wednesday June 5 at 7:00 at the Soap Gallery for a poetry & prose reading by two sisters and amazing writers of Cleveland. Open mic emceed by Steve Force. National Ketchup Day. Let’s stogie up the grill.
Mary Grimm has had two books published, Left to Themselves (novel) and Stealing Time (story collection) – both by Random House. Currently, she is working on a dystopian novel about oldsters. She teaches fiction writing at Case Western Reserve University.
Susan Grimm is the author of Almost Home (1997), Lake Erie Blue (2004), and Roughed Up by the Sun’s Mothering Tongue (2011). Her poetry has appeared in Blackbird, The Journal, South Dakota Review, Poetry East, and Tar River Poetry.
Many thanks to the sponsors of the First Wednesday series: the Nathalie & James Andrews Foundation and the Kennedy Family Foundation via the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.
The second Lou Yuhasz Memorial Scholarship is open for submissions.
Each year, we will award one $100 scholarship, and invite the recipient to read their work at the Fall Literary Festival, Oct. 4-5. The winner and runner-up will receive free registration to the Festival. The 2018 scholarship recipient was D.T. McCrea, selected by Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Professor Robert Miltner and alumna Amy Sparks. This year’s judges are to be determined.
If you will be a NEOMFA student in fall of 2019 and would like to compete for the prize, please send a cover letter and 10-page writing portfolio (name on cover letter only) to LitYoungstown@gmail.com. The deadline is June 15.
Lou was an enthusiastic writer and Lit Youngstown volunteer and participant, and we miss him. To honor his spirit, we created this scholarship, and are grateful for contributions to the scholarship fund, which will allow us to offer this award well into the future.
Lou’s daughter Jamie offered us this tribute.
Lou Yuhasz was a writer, a husband, a father, a friend, and above all, a teacher. He graduated from Youngstown State University in 1999, with a BS in Secondary Education, concentrating on comprehensive communication. In his senior year, he was the assistant news editor at the Jambar covering the Academic Senate as YSU made the transition from quarters to semesters. He taught as a substitute for a year for Youngstown City Schools, before taking a job at a large health insurance company.
After ten years, and at the age of 48, Lou’s passion for creative writing and teaching led him to quit his job and join the NEOMFA program. Shortly after beginning school, he was diagnosed with stage II cancer of the esophagus. That didn’t stop him though, and he excelled in his classes.
His passion for his school and the program was contagious, and so was the happiness the NEOMFA brought him. I’ve read a lot of my father’s work throughout my life, but something very special happened when he joined the NEOMFA program.
He was a husband of 26 years, and raised two daughters. His support for his family was unparalleled. His office looked like something out of a Lovecraft novel, with tentacles and gargoyles scattered between the bookshelves housing various scifi and horror novels. He loved to write and tell stories, as well as teaching others the ability to create what they loved. He would be proud and honored to have this scholarship enable people to follow their passion.
Lit Youngstown seeks proposals for presentations, workshops, craft talks and creative readings for our 3rd annual Fall Literary Festival to be held October 4-5 at Youngstown State University. The two-day festival will feature an acclaimed faculty: Nin Andrews (poetry), Christopher Barzak (fiction), Erica Cardwell (essay, creative nonfiction), Jill Christman (creative nonfiction), Michael Croley (fiction), George Ella Lyon (poetry, essay), Philip Memmer (poetry), Philip Metres (poetry, essay). To read more about our visiting writers, please visit the Fall Literary Festival page.
This year’s conference will be centered around themes of cultural identity and representation in writing and publishing. Sessions will be 50 minutes. Proposals may include panel and roundtable discussions, creative readings, or workshops. Group and individual proposal submissions are welcome. Individual proposals and creative readings will be grouped into panels by conference organizers.
Individuals are limited to two proposal submissions, please. Accepted presenters will be required to register for the conference at the early bird registration fee of $40. There will be opportunities to apply for needs-based stipends. The proposal deadline is midnight, May 10.
We seek proposals from a diverse cross section of voices and experiences, and encourage submissions from African American and Black, Latinx and Chicanx, Asian American, disabled, LGBTQ and non-binary, immigrant, native, rural, older, and resource-poor writers. All genres are welcome and encouraged.
Creative writing outreach in prisons, with immigrants, etc.
Responsibly engaging diverse voices and perspectives
Writing about identity and marginalized experiences
Lack of representation in publishing
Navigating the publishing industry as marginalized communities
Writers with disabilities
Creative writing workshop
Creative writing pedagogy
Community-based writing programs
Residencies, conferences and other opportunities
Developing best practices in your craft
Collaboration and mentoring
Literary topics in all genres
Writing for mass media: journalism, blogging, podcasts, radio, etc.
Children’s and YA writing and publishing
Comics & graphic novels
Film & new media
Hybrid & short forms
Older writers publishing
Strategies for teaching and researching writing
Engaging and sustaining a writing life
Join us at the Lakeland Literary Festival! Lit Youngstown is pleased to be invited to participate in the book fair at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio. We will leave at 7:00 a.m. from our office at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 323 Wick Ave. Like to ride up with us? Please let us know: LitYoungstown@gmail.com.
Celebrate the many exciting forms of literature with noted writers. The Lakeland Literary Festival is being held Nov. 30, 2018, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in HIVE in the H-Building.
Acclaimed writers and poets will present a variety of workshops in areas such as non-fiction, fiction, poetry, translation and publishing. There will also be a book fair with many presses, magazines and organizations.
This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required for the workshops. Register here.
The event will begin with a continental breakfast and then the workshops will run from 9-10 a.m., 10:15-11:15 a.m. and 11:30-12:30 p.m. Lunch will be available for purchase from food trucks on the campus. After lunch, at 1 p.m., keynote speaker Dave Lucas, Poet Laureate of the State of Ohio will speak. The event will close with a poetry reading by winners of the 31st Annual Poetry Competition, slated from 2-3 p.m.
For more information, contact Assistant Professor James DeMonte at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 440.525.7458.
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.
We continue our exploration of the rich diversity of the American experience with this National Book Award winner set on the Ojibwe reservation in contemporary North Dakota.
Wednesday, November 8, 6:00-7:00, Cultivate Cafe, 901 Elm St.
If you wish to order dinner at Cultivate, please arrive well before the kitchen closes at 6:00. We thank Cultivate for staying open late to host our discussion.
Read a New York Times review of The Round House here. The rest of the titles in this series are listed here. Please note that the author of our December title will be a First Wednesday reader Wednesday November 1, 7:15, at The Soap Gallery, 117 S. Champion St.