We began as many things do, with an idea, a passion, and the need to fill a void.
Photo credit: Cleveland Public Library
Northeast Ohio is home to a wealth of writers of all genres: journalists, novelists, poets, short story writers, essayists and bloggers, fiction and nonfiction writers, authors of children’s and youth literature, technical writers, playwrights, songwriters. . And yet this vast landscape of literary artists work in relative obscurity -- and largely separate from each other and from others in the region who might be enriched by their work or aspire to a writing life themselves.
Literary Cleveland has begun to elevate and serve this community -- of writers and readers.
In the spring of 2015, a small group of writers gathered to consider how such a community might be identified, served and advanced in Northeast Ohio. The group thought it important to first test the reality of what they felt was a need before starting down the path of organization-building. Would there be enough interest in creating an organization to connect writers with each other and with the public, to elevate and advance the literary arts in Northeast Ohio? How to know?
The testing ground became the first (soon to be annual) Cleveland Inkubator, free, day-long conference of writing workshops, author readings, book sales and general hobnobbing for professional and aspiring writers and the public. Held in August 2015 and co-sponsored by the Cleveland Public Library, Inkubator drew more than 300 participants of all ages and demographics to the library’s downtown campus. Yes, the advisers determined, there was a need.
Nine months after Inkubator 2015, Lit Cleveland secured its nonprofit tax exempt status. In 2016, the organization offered more than 50 workshops and 225 hours of programming impacting over 1,600 individuals. The organization also completed a six-month planning process to create a business plan that would support a sustainable organization.
Now in its third year of operations, the organization continues to expand the range of writing workshops, networking events, and author readings it offers annually, many in partnership with other local organizations. In 2017, Lit Cleveland introduced Who We Are, Where We Live, a neighborhood-based writing program; a staged reading series in partnership with Cleveland Humanities Festival; Read Ohio, a book discussion series with the Ohio Center for the Book at CPL; Gordon Square Review, a national online literary magazine providing editing mentorships for emerging writers and a special focus on Northeast Ohio writers; an internship program; and a podcast, blog and Youtube channel.
Cleveland Inkubator 2017 was the biggest yet, with nearly 500 people attending events over six days including the all-day literary conference on Sat. July 29th, solidifying the event's status as the largest free annual festival for writers and readers in Northeast Ohio.
Our Mission: Literary Cleveland's mission is to create and nurture a vibrant literary arts community in Northeast Ohio.
Our Vision: It is our intention to become the hub, the connection point for the literary arts in the region.
Lit Cleveland's board consists of Susan Petrone (President), John Zajc (Vice President), Miesha Headen (Treasurer), Erin King (Secretary), Kathleen Cerveny, Harriett Logan, Suzanne DeGaetano, Brandon Baker, Mark Schumann, Katherine Clark, Dairian Heard, Susan Oelbracht, Darlene English, Susan Spinell and Cathy Barber.
Literary Cleveland is graciously supported by the George Gund Foundation, Krieger Fund of the Cleveland Foundation, Ohio Humanities Council, Ohio Arts Council, Foundation for Sustainability and Innovation, Cleveland Public Library, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, Cleveland Colectivo, and other partners and supporters.
"It is our intention to become the hub, the connection point for the literary arts in the region."