Our signature Cleveland Inkubator literary arts festival returned for the 4th consecutive year to bring nearly a week of stellar programming to Cleveland's community of writers and readers. This year's Inkubator conference at Cleveland Public Library -- which followed a number of free literary events, including a craft talk with acclaimed author Benjamin Percy, book swap and NEOMFA reading, LGBTQ storytelling event, and more -- was a great success, drawing nearly 300 readers and writers from Northeast Ohio. During the conference, participants attended an array of writing workshops and craft talks on topics ranging from literary journalism to speculative fiction and beyond. The conference also featured inspiring performances by members of Bullets into Bells and a robust Resource Fair staffed by local literary arts organizations, public libraries, and independent presses.
All in all, this year's Inkubator festival drew close to 500 participants and helped further our mission of creating and nurturing a vibrant literary arts community in Northeast Ohio.
Thanks again to our sponsors Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, Cleveland Public Library, OverDrive, and Council Gardens for helping make this special week possible. Thanks also to our dedicated staff, board members, and volunteers for lending your time, energy, and talents throughout the week. Finally, a thank you to all who attended for proving again just how vibrant and diverse Northeast Ohio's literary community is.
Click "play" on the slideshow below to check out photos from the week.
On Saturday, July 7th, Literary Cleveland's Cleveland Stories Program had another successful workshop with a presentation by Mark Souther. Souther is the director of the Center for Public History and Digital Humanities and a professor at Cleveland State University.
Souther began his presentation at the Mt. Pleasant branch of Cleveland Public Library with a question: Why oral history? Oral history adds to the historical record, fills the gaps in our understanding, and gives voice to our neighbors. Souther has been involved in multiple oral history projects and is the author of several books, including Believing in Cleveland: Managing Decline in 'The Best Location in the Nation.'
The presentation broke down the steps of planning and preparing for an oral history interview, from choosing someone to interview to planning the interview and the protocol for the interview itself.
The group discussed the positives and negatives of interviewing close acquaintances and family, techniques to keep the interview professional but not boring, and how to navigate recording the interview with digital records or phones.
Cleveland Stories is presented in collaboration with Seeds of Literacy and Neighborhood Connections.
Literary Cleveland, a nonprofit organization committed to nurturing a vibrant community of readers and writers in Northeast Ohio, is hosting its fourth annual Cleveland Inkubator conference this summer.
The conference will begin on Tuesday, July 31st with a book swap and reading by Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts (NEOMFA) alumni, and culminate on Saturday, August 4th with the Cleveland Inkubator writers conference featuring a keynote reading and talk from award-winning author Benjamin Percy at the Cleveland Public Library Stokes Wing (525 Superior Ave., Cleve. 44115).
“Literary Cleveland continues to promote a culture of reading and writing in Northeast Ohio by offering free programs with our partners,” says executive director Lee Chilcote. “For the fourth year running, Cleveland Inkubator is expected to engage hundreds of writers and readers in Northeast Ohio’s diverse, stellar literary scene!”
The schedule for Cleveland Inkubator includes:
Inkubator, Northeast Ohio’s largest free annual literary festival, is made by possible with the support of Cleveland Public Library and the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. Additionally, the festival is sponsored by Overdrive and Council Gardens.
The full schedule for 2018’s Cleveland Inkubator can be found on our website at www.litcleveland.org.
Cleveland Public Library will host four award-winning authors through its 2018 Writers & Readers series: Benjamin Percy, Paul Beatty, José Antonio Vargas, and Susan Orlean. The series, which is presented in partnership with Literary Cleveland, will also engage the community through book discussions, writing workshops, and more.
“Fostering a love of reading and an appreciation of literature is central to our work here at Cleveland Public Library,” says Felton Thomas Jr., Executive Director and CEO. “Through our revamped Writers & Readers series, we’re excited to bring world-class authors to Cleveland while creating workshops and discussions related to the writers’ work.”
The 2018 Writers & Readers series launches in August with novelist and comics author Benjamin Percy, who headlines Literary Cleveland’s Inkubator literary conference. On August 3, Percy will offer a fiction craft talk, “How Do You Create Suspense? I’ll Tell You Later,” as well as the August 4 Inkubator keynote. The remainder of the Writers & Readers series features Beatty’s appearance on September 22, Vargas on October 13, and Orlean on November 10.
“We sought a diverse set of contemporary authors whose work is socially engaged and cutting-edge, yet also accessible,” says Lee Chilcote, Director of Literary Cleveland. “We’re looking to engage the community with the authors’ work—to encourage people to read the books in advance, join book discussions, or attend a writing workshop. We also hope to involve some Northeast Ohio writers to spotlight the talent we have here.”
Cleveland Public Library and Literary Cleveland collaborated to select the authors for the 2018 Writers & Readers series. The schedule is as follows:
Percy is the author of the novels The Dark Net, The Dead Lands, Red Moon, and The Wilding, as well as Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction and the story collections Refresh, Refresh and The Language of Elk. His comics work includes DC Comics’ Nightwing, Green Arrow, Teen Titans, and Batman Detective Comics #35 and #36.
Fiction Craft Talk: Friday, August 3 at 7pm
Louis Stokes Wing, 525 Superior Avenue
Inkubator Keynote: Saturday, August 4 at 3pm
Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium, 525 Superior Avenue
Beatty is the author of The White Boy Shuffle, Tuff, Slumberland, The Sellout, and two books of poetry. The Sellout, which won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction and the Man Booker Prize in Fiction, tells the story of a modern-day farmer who reinstates slavery in a scathing satire. Beatty was the first American author to win the Man Booker Prize.
Saturday, September 22 at 2pm
Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium, 525 Superior Avenue
José Antonio VargasVargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, revealed his status as an undocumented immigrant in a 2011 essay published in The New York Times Magazine. He has since written, produced, and directed the autobiographical feature film Documented as well as the MTV film White People. His forthcoming memoir, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen (September 2018), addresses the larger conversation about immigration and American identity.
Saturday, October 13 at 2pm
Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium, 525 Superior Avenue
Susan OrleanSusan Orlean is the author of Saturday Night, The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, and The Orchid Thief (which became an Academy Award-winning film), among other works. Her newest title, The Library Book (October 2018), reopens the unsolved mystery of America’s most catastrophic library fire, underscoring and exploring the treasured place that libraries hold in our culture.
Saturday, November 10 at 2pm
Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium, 525 Superior Avenue
About Cleveland Public Library: Cleveland Public Library is The People’s University, the center of learning for a diverse and inclusive community. Founded in 1869, CPL serves the residents of Cleveland through its network of 27 neighborhood branches, the Main Library downtown, Public Administration Library at City Hall, homebound delivery services, and mobile services to daycare and senior centers. From a collection of 10.5 million items, CPL lends over 5 million items a year to its 330,000 registered borrowers and to 43 other CLEVNET-member libraries in 12 counties across northeast Ohio. CPL is home to the Ohio Center for the Book and the Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled, serving all 88 counties in the state. For more information, visit cpl.org.
On Friday 6/1, Lit Cleveland members, staff, and supporters gathered at The Bop Stop at the Music Settlement for Lit Cleveland's annual fundraiser party, A LIT Summer Night. True to its name, the sold-out party offered an evening of lively, lit-themed entertainment. The night featured celebrity writers-for-hire Mary Weems, Susan Petrone, and Ray McNiece composing short, spontaneous pieces with only a single noun, verb, and adjective to guide them; Lit Cleveland's first-ever Live Auction, emceed by WCPN's own Amy Eddings; a Lit Jam starring local authors Kisha Nicole Foster, EF Schraeder, and Michael Garriga backed by jazz trio Sun Song's smooth improvisations; an array of enticing raffle baskets; and more. Perhaps most importantly, A LIT Summer Night provided a unique opportunity for writers and readers of every stripe to connect and toast to the continued health of the literary arts in Cleveland and beyond.
A heartfelt THANKS to all who attended and performed on this special evening. Thanks also to our staff, board members, and fundraising committee for organizing, and to our sponsors OverDrive and Council Gardens for helping make A LIT Summer Night a reality.
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.
To create a strong community of readers and writers in Cleveland, Ohio through workshops, classes, readings and other events.