Literary Cleveland, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help create and nurture a vibrant literary arts community in Northeast Ohio, is set to host its annual fundraiser party, “A LIT Summer Night” (formerly “Where the Writers Are”) on Friday, 6/1 at The Bop Stop at the Music Settlement in Ohio City.
Emceed by WCPN’s own Amy Eddings, A LIT Summer Night features a number of activities and performances by some of Cleveland’s brightest writers and musicians. Specifically, attendees will enjoy a unique “Lit Jam” featuring local writers Kisha Nicole Foster, EF Schraeder, and Michael Garriga backed by accomplished jazz trio “Sun Song”; celebrity writers-for-hire Mary Weems, Ray McNiece, and Susan Petrone; lit-themed raffle baskets and a silent auction; and delicious food courtesy of Boney Fingers Barbeque.
“We’ve got a wonderful line-up in store, and are delighted to highlight some of the amazing talent here in Cleveland,” says Cathy Barber, Lit Cleveland board member and chief organizer of the event. “It’s also a treat to host this event at the Bop Stop for the third straight year – it’s a beautiful space and well suited for the kinds of performances we’ll be hosting.”
Due to heightened interest in this event, A LIT Summer Night has sold out of tickets. Support for A LIT Summer Night provided by OverDrive and Council Gardens.
Lit Cleveland has also recently announced details for its fourth-annual Cleveland Inkubator literary arts festival, set to take place Tues. 7/31 through Sat. 8/4 at venues throughout the city. Beginning in 2015 as a daylong conference at Cleveland Public Library’s Main branch, Inkubator has developed into Northeast Ohio’s largest free annual festival for writers and readers.
This year’s Inkubator festival includes a book swap and open mic at Market Garden Brewery; a panel discussion on place-based writing led by D.L. Ware, Justin Glanville, and Kisha Nicole Foster; a celebration of Northeast Ohio’s LGBTQ+ literary community; a craft talk with award-winning fiction writer and essayist Benjamin Percy; and more. The festival culminates in a daylong immersive conference at Cleveland Public Library featuring a wide variety of workshops, craft talks, readings, and more. Details on the daylong conference will be announced on Friday, 6/1.
“We’ve worked hard to try and offer something for everyone at this year’s Inkubator, and are pleased with how things are coming together,” says Lit Cleveland Director Lee Chilcote. “Whether you’re an established writer looking for resources on publishing or promoting your work, or an aspiring writer in search of community and confidence, we’re confident that Inkubator will help you along your journey.”
Cleveland Inkubator is made possible by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, as well as through support from Cleveland Public Library, OverDrive, Council Gardens, and others.
In addition to these opportunities, Lit Cleveland has recently announced a number of new programs, including classes on poetry, memoir, writing family history, performing your writing, and writing for young readers; Cleveland Stories, a place-based writing program spotlighting Mount Pleasant and surrounding neighborhoods on Cleveland’s eastside; a discussion on playwriting presented in partnership with Playwrights Local; and more.
For a full list of program offerings, and to learn more about this year’s Inkubator Festival, please visit our website.
On Wednesday, May 23rd, Literary Cleveland's Cleveland Stories project began at Seeds of Literacy with presentations by Susan Hall and Charlotte Morgan. Hall is the former Director of Community Relations at Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS), and Charlotte Morgan is a Glenville-based writer and storyteller who teaches at Cleveland State University.
"I’m descendant of griots," Hall said. "They walked, talked, and told stories of places, people and things. I didn’t know I was a historian until later."
Hall spoke about history and the varied approaches to it. Hall, who contributed to the Stokes exhibit at the Cleveland History Center, spoke of not just topical events, but also digging through archives, boxes, and pictures, and telling stories of African American history.
Hall was instrumental in creating the Mt. Pleasant Historical Markers, located at Kinsman Road and East 147th Street, East 146th Street and Kinsman Road, Luke Easter Park, Kinsman Road and East 93rd Street, East 131st Street and Oakfield Avenue, and Alexander Hamilton Recreation Center. The markers tell the history of influential African American residents of the area such as Carl Stokes, Don King, and A.J. Rickoff.
“Mt. Pleasant is rich with African American history in particular. Farmers from the British Isle of Manx settled this area. One farmer could not pay workers in cash, so he paid them in land. African Americans came here through the Great Migration. Other blacks such as these who worked for the Manx farmers came through early settlement. They were already in the north.”
The presentation was continued by Morgan, who began to synthesize Hall's historical approaches with the process of telling one's own stories, and the stories of one's community. Weaving through tales of witches, neighborhood watches, and barbecues, Morgan enlivened the crowd, who began to respond with their own tales.
"It's place-based writing," Morgan said of the project. "Telling the story of a community distinct from any other place. The cousin who drank everything that could not be tied down, the card parties, the store where your family went and you could get credit. Before it became the hood it was the neighborhood."
Literary Cleveland is excited for the work that will be generated by this project, and the enthusiasm that Hall and Morgan helped spark at the kickoff event.
Morgan went on to say that her grandmother was illiterate, and told stories orally. She filled Morgan's mind with stories of how she lived around corner in Georgia from Martin Luther King, Jr.
"The most wonderful gift she ever gave me was telling stories. I want to give that gift to you. Tell the truth and shame the devil, as the old folks used to say."
Last night, Gordon Square Review and Literary Cleveland celebrated the launch of GSR Issue 2 at Terrestrial Brewery! Readers included Melissa Warren, Kelly Griffiths, Stacie Williams, Rose Driscoll, Amanda Stovicek, and Amy Williamson, all of whom contributed to Issue 2. We want to thank Terrestrial Brewery and the wonderful literary community of Cleveland and beyond for coming out to celebrate prose, poetry, and art -- our favorite kind of celebration!
Literary Cleveland, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help create and nurture a vibrant literary arts community in Northeast Ohio, and Gordon Square Review, the organization’s new literary magazine, are proud to announce the launch of Issue 2, along with the winners of the magazine’s first Free Stamp Flash Contest. Gordon Square Review showcases emerging writers nationwide, awards editing mentorships, and provides a venue to spotlight Northeast Ohio writers.
Issue 2 will launch on May 10. Editors, writers published in Issue 2, and the Northeast Ohio literary community will gather on Tuesday, May 15 from 6:30-9p at Terrestrial Brewing Company, 7524 Father Frascati, Cleveland OH for the launch party. In addition to readings, there will be a raffle of Lit Cleveland merchandise.
The Free Stamp Flash Contest, named for the Free Stamp sculpture in Downtown Cleveland, was open to Northeast Ohio writers. The winner will receive $250, publication in Issue 2 of Gordon Square Review, an invitation to read at the Issue 2 launch party, and a voucher for one free Literary Cleveland single-session class.
This year’s winner is Melissa N. Warren, for her flash piece “Bees.” Warren moved back to Ohio recently from an island in coastal Georgia. During her teenage years and early 20s, she published in literary journals in the South and won the Gold Award for her poetry with both National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts and National Scholastic. She spent the next decade traveling and writing place-based stories. A mother of two now, her writing is inspired by nature hikes and seeing creatures through child-eyes.
“My friend's husband was undergoing the Whipple procedure, a 14-hour surgery for pancreatic cancer,” Warren said of writing this story. “I spoke to her while she waited in the hospital throughout the surgery, and imagined what it was like to have a partner undergo such an intense procedure. After several check-ins, I took my youngest, and went walking. I met a woman who was a beekeeper in a sweet little cottage, and she spoke almost exactly the words I wrote down in the story. It was uncanny, the parallels between wax moths and cancerous cells, between ending things quickly or opting to fight the impending spread of moths and disease.”
Additionally, the editors of Gordon Square Review chose a runner up in the contest, Kelly Griffiths, for her flash piece “Tease.” Having recently recovered from brain surgery, Griffiths says, “I found out I needed brain surgery in the middle of teaching a class. I called, thinking it would be the usual, all’s well. It was not. I made it through the rest of that day on a strength not my own. By faith I finished teaching, marked a moment where my students all laughed and teaching was sweet. I purposed to gulp life and appreciate everything around me.” Her recent work appears in Reflex Fiction, The Forge Literary Magazine, and Ellipsis Two.
Of the winning story and the runner up and finalists, Gordon Square Review editor-in-chief Laura Maylene Walter says, “We received many exciting entries for this contest, and we’re grateful to Northeast Ohio writers for sending such beautiful work our way. Ultimately, our editorial staff selected ‘Bees’ as the winner for the powerful way it conveys abstract concepts like grief, fear, and love through vivid, concrete detail. Melissa Warren manages to create a haunting, melancholy effect in a spare and layered story, all of which speaks to the strength of her writing. We selected ‘Tease’ as the runner-up because we loved its imagination, its subtle humor, and its strangeness. We’re so pleased to publish both ‘Bees’ and ‘Tease’ in Issue 2 of Gordon Square Review.”
Issue 2 of Gordon Square Review will feature poetry by Sara Ryan, Amy Williamson, Emily Ellison, Jalynn Harris, Amanda Stovicek, Donna Gary, and Roger Camp. Prose writers include Alysandra Dutton, Josie Turner, Stacie Williams, Yasmina Floyer, and Tara Isabel Zambrano. The Gordon Square Review Mentorships, in which Gordon Square Review editors worked with emerging writers to refine their pieces, were awarded to Steven Carey-Walton, Rose Driscoll, and Ijeoma Umebinyeo.
Speak Up, Speak Out: Ekphrastic Poetry Day took place on Saturday, April 21st at the Cleveland Museum of Art in honor of National Poetry Month. Several writers were invited to perform their works that were inspired by artwork at the museum. Local poets Kisha Nicole Foster, Raja Belle Freeman, Ali McClain, Damien McClendon, Philip Metres, Ephraim Nehemiah, Michelle R. Smith, and Mary Weems read their works in the galleries for the Ekphrastic Poetry Invitational.
Thank you to all the writers who participated in the open mic event including: Marion Boyer, Anna Boyer, Kathleen Cerveny, Lee Chilcote, Richard Ferris, Belinda McKinney, Lara Mielcarek, Laura Pohlman, Jeremy Proehl, Susanne Sande, Adrian Schnall, Susan Spinell, Claudia Taller, Marie Vibbert, and Raquel Wilbon. The writers each chose an artwork that inspired them from artists such as Jackson Pollock, Georgia O'Keeffe and Basquiat.
We would also like to thank Lake Erie Ink, Twelve Literary Arts and the Cleveland Museum of Art for partnering with us for this successful event.
On Sat. 3/17 & Sun. 3/18, Lit Cleveland delivered one of its major programs of the year, entitled I Will Sing For You. In collaboration with acclaimed Director Dale Heinen, I Will Sing For You featured five professional actors performing original work by area writers on the themes of health, illness, the American health care system, health inequality, and related topics.
Over the course of two evenings, I Will Sing For You attracted around 125 attendees, many of whom referred to the performance as "dynamic and well-rounded", "really worthwhile, and "balanced and inspiring." And despite the emotionally charged subject matter, the written pieces featured in I Will Sing For You approached themes with great sensitivity and nuance.
We'd like to thank all of the writers who lended their voice to this performance: Nicholas Cohen, Diane Vogel Ferri, Aubrey Hirsch, Ray McNiece, Philip Metres, Darlene Montonaro, Robin Pease, Mimi Plevin-Foust, Susan Rakow, Jane Richmond, Elaine Schleiffer, Karen Schubert, Jill Sell, Mary Weems, and Joe Kapitan. Thanks also to all of the many writers who submitted their work for consideration.
A heartfelt thanks too to Director Dale Heinen, who beautifully adapted these written works into a fluid and compelling show, as well as actors Davis Aguila, Andrea Belser, David Bugher, Anne McEvoy, and Kimberly Silas, who helped bring these words to life.
Finally, we'd like to thank the George Gund Foundation, Baker Nord Center for the Humanities, Cleveland Humanities Festival, Cleveland State University, and Margaret Wong and Associates, without whose support this program would not have been possible.
Literary Cleveland is accepting applications for its 2018 Programming Fellowship, a part-time fellowship that offers a writer for an underrepresented group an experience in editing, publishing, literary programming, and outreach in collaboration with the staff of Lit Cleveland.
Lit Cleveland’s mission is to help build and nurture a vibrant literary arts community in Northeast Ohio. The organization produces dozens of workshops and networking events annually, hosts a reading and author talk series at the Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern, and organizes the annual free Inkubator conference at Cleveland Public Library, among other core programs. Lit Cleveland was incorporated in 2015 and is a 501c3 nonprofit organization with 300+ contributing members. In 2017, we organized nearly 100 events impacting more than 2,000 individuals.
A complete history and description of activities is on our website at www.litcleveland.org.
Duties and responsibilities will include:
Timeline: April 1st 2018 through August 31st 2018 (5 months, start date somewhat flexible)
Email one-page letter of inquiry and resume to:
Lee Chilcote, Director
6516 Detroit Ave. Suite 13, Cleveland Oh 44102
We're excited to announce the program for our upcoming staged reading at Cleveland State University's Student Center Ballroom during this year’s Cleveland Humanities Festival on Saturday March 17th and Sunday March 18th at 7 pm.
The hour-long performance, titled I Will Sing for You: Writers on Health, features original work by Northeast Ohio writers Nicholas Cohen, Diane Ferri, Aubrey Hirsch, Ray McNiece, Darlene Montonaro, Robin Pease, Mimi Plevin-Foust, Susan Rakow, Jane Richmond, Elaine Schleiffer, Karen Schubert, Jill Sell, Mary Weems, and Joe Kapitan.
Lit Cleveland's call for submissions earlier this year garnered over 180 poems, stories, and plays from writers throughout Northeast Ohio. The moving, often funny works explore issues such as aging, cancer, addiction, mental health, race and poverty, and the inequities in our current health care system.
Diane Ferri's moving essay “I Will Sing for You” recounts her final memories of time spent with her aging mother. Philip Metres reflects on finding peace in the midst of a painful concussion as well as the current presidential administration in his essay “Refuge.” Playwright Mary Weems encounters the tragedy of addiction in her piece "Pill/Box." Ray McNiece playfully taunts death in his poem “The Bone Orchard Conga,” while Joe Kaptian humorously highlights the hypocrisy of health care coverage in his one act play "Minimal Coverage."
“Reading the selected pieces, it’s striking how relevant, and often how American, these stories are,” said Director Dale Heinen, who will work alongside professional actors to adapt these written pieces for the stage. “It’s a fun, intriguing challenge to craft performances from diverse forms of writing like poetry and essay, and I look forward to sharing our discoveries with festival audiences.”
"We're thrilled to have worked out a program for this year's performance, and are truly grateful to have received such outstanding, powerful work from so many people living in this region," added Lee Chilcote, Executive Director of Lit Cleveland. "We'd like to thank everyone who went out on a limb to share their stories with us, and look forward to what we hope will be a powerful and insightful performance."
In contrast to last year's Crossing Borders: Immigrant Narratives performance, which featured a different program each evening, I Will Sing for You will showcase the same work both nights. A reception with the actors and writers will follow each performance. Register in advance for the event.
This program is made possible with the support of the George Gund Foundation, the Baker Nord Center for the Humanities, Cleveland Humanities Festival, Cleveland State University, and Margaret Wong and Associates.
About the Director
Dale Heinen is a director/dramaturge focused on new work. She has worked on new plays in Cleveland, Chicago, London, New York, Dublin, Tokyo and Brazil. Her work has been recognized by the Jeff Awards and by the After Dark Awards (Chicago), and she was the recipient of the Arches Award for Directors (Glasgow). Since returning to her hometown of Cleveland in 2014, she has directed new work at Cleveland Public Theatre, Lake Erie College, Dobama Theatre and Playwrights’ Local, where she is a company member. Dale teaches at John Carroll University and has a BA from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and an MFA in theatre directing from Middlesex University (London). In 2015, Dale co-founded BorderLight: the Festival of International Theatre, Cleveland, which aims to present visionary international theatre and build cross-cultural understanding. BorderLight is expected to launch in late summer 2019 in downtown Cleveland.
by Raquel Wilson, Lit Cleveland Intern
On Thursday 2/22, Literary Cleveland and Story Club Cleveland held their third Writing Out Loud class show at Forest City Brewery. The performance marked the end of a month-long process in which eight class participants studied the art of storytelling and crafted their own stories from scratch. While many of us may be familiar with writing stories in the genres of fiction, nonfiction, or in poetic form, writing a personal story and performing it for an audience is, well, a different story altogether. As a current Lit Cleveland Intern and spoken word poet, I knew that stage presence is necessary, but after participating in this workshop I understand just how crucial it is. And while I've been a storyteller my whole life -- I've always captured the attention of my friends and family with my personal stories -- this class helped me to see storytelling as an art that can be studied and taught and performed for an audience.
Writing Out Loud encouraged us to study the techniques essential to good storytelling, including detail, revision, and performance tips. I'm no stranger to the microphone, but as I listened to the methods of telling a story in another fashion I realized just how valuable Lit Cleveland, Story Club Cleveland, libraries, and independent bookstores are to our community of writers. If it weren't for these organizations, spoken word artists and writers interested in performance wouldn't have nearly as many opportunities to express ourselves.
The experience of hearing these eight individuals tell their personal stories in a room full of strangers for the first time was amazing. The crowd was respectful and pleasant, and each storyteller held the attention of the audience by bravely speaking their truth. I encourage anyone interested in sharing their story to participate in future classes and performances with Lit Cleveland and Story Club.
To create a strong community of readers and writers in Cleveland, Ohio through workshops, classes, readings and other events.