Breakthrough Writing Residency

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Spend a full year working one-on-one with a mentor and alongside a cohort of writers to complete a book-length project.


Publishing a book is breakthrough moment in a writer’s career, a transformational step that suddenly makes available a whole host of opportunities, including readings, speaking engagements, teaching and more. But it is very difficult to complete a book-length project without support. It is a long-term process that requires encouragement, feedback, mentorship, and resources. That is why Literary Cleveland created the Breakthrough Writing Residency.

Literary Cleveland’s Breakthrough Writing Residency provides free year-long mentorship, support, and opportunities to help six emerging writers in Greater Cleveland develop a book-length project.

Residents (two in each genre of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) will work with a mentor to make progress on a manuscript, gain free access to Literary Cleveland programs, take part in professional development opportunities, and present their work at the annual Inkubator Conference. The program is primarily virtual with occasional in-person meetings throughout the year.

The Breakthrough Writing Residency is intended for those who demonstrate a passion for writing and a commitment to developing a book-length manuscript but who have not published a book or attended a MFA program.

Applicants are selected for the program based on the excellence of their writing and ability to complete their proposed writing project. Writing projects may include (but are not limited to) completing the first draft of a novel, memoir, poetry manuscript, or similar creative work, or revising and submitting a book-length project for publication. The residency is for personal writing projects (manuscripts) only, not community writing programs.

Virtual Info session: Monday, May 23 from 7-8pm via Zoom. View the info session recording here.

Deadline to apply: June 20

  

Benefits to Residents

  • Mentorship with professional writer for encouragement and accountability
  • A supportive writing cohort and environment
  • Free access to Literary Cleveland classes and programs (with some restrictions)
  • Participation in Inkubator Conference (as reader, presenter, or panelist)
  • Opportunities to develop teaching skills
  • Professional development consultation from working writers, agents, and more

 

What the Program Supports

  • The development of new writing 
  • Personal writing projects that will be completed within one year (manuscripts, not community writing projects)
  • Works not previously published and/or produced (excluding excerpts or individual poems or stories that are part of a larger project)
  • Works of writing, including, but not limited to, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction

 

Who Can Apply

The residency specifically aims to assist emerging writers who have not published a book and have not completed an MFA program.

We are especially interested in reaching writers with low or limited income for whom expensive writing opportunities are out of reach. Additionally, we encourage writers who are Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American Pacific Islander, or multihyphenate, those who identify as LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, and other members of communities historically underrepresented by and in the literary community to apply.

Applicants must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Resident of the Greater Cleveland/NortheastOhio area at the time of application and through completion of the residency period
  • Age 18 or older
  • Cannot be a current staff, board, or committee member of Literary Cleveland
  • Cannot be a graduate or undergraduate student in any degree program during the residency
  • Cannot already have and MFA or a traditionally published book  

 
Do not reject yourself! Don’t stop yourself from applying because you don’t want to take the opportunity away from someone else who needs it more. Apply and let us sort that part out! If you have any questions, email info@litcleveland.org.

Selection Process & Criteria

Applications are reviewed by an independent panel of writers working in a variety of disciplines. The panel will select finalists based on the following criteria:

  • Artistic excellence of work samples
  • Quality of the proposed writing project (manuscript)
  • Feasibility of and ability to complete the writing project (manuscript) 

Mentors will then select participants from the list of finalists.

 

Application Materials

  • Application form
  • Artist biography
  • Artist résumé or CV
  • Personal statement
  • Project description
  • Writing sample and description

Timeline

  • June 20 – Applications due  
  • August – Responses sent 
  • September – Residents publicly announced and introduced  
  • October – Orientation and first meetings with mentors
  • Nov-Aug – Regular weekly or bi-weekly check-ins with mentors, quarterly residents meetings
  • Sept/Oct – Final reading 

 

Mentors

Residents will work year round with the mentor in their genre. These mentors have experience with publishing, teaching, attending residencies, and receiving fellowships. They will help set your work plan for the year and will keep you accountable to writing deadlines and goals. See their full bios below.


Fiction: Laura Maylene Walter

Nonfiction: Eliese Colette Goldbach

Poetry: Kelly Harris-DeBerry

Questions? Email info@litcleveland.org

Spend a full year working one-on-one with a mentor and alongside a cohort of writers to complete a book-length project.


Publishing a book is breakthrough moment in a writer’s career, a transformational step that suddenly makes available a whole host of opportunities, including readings, speaking engagements, teaching and more. But it is very difficult to complete a book-length project without support. It is a long-term process that requires encouragement, feedback, mentorship, and resources. That is why Literary Cleveland created the Breakthrough Writing Residency.

Literary Cleveland’s Breakthrough Writing Residency provides free year-long mentorship, support, and opportunities to help six emerging writers in Greater Cleveland develop a book-length project.

Residents (two in each genre of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) will work with a mentor to make progress on a manuscript, gain free access to Literary Cleveland programs, take part in professional development opportunities, and present their work at the annual Inkubator Conference. The program is primarily virtual with occasional in-person meetings throughout the year.

The Breakthrough Writing Residency is intended for those who demonstrate a passion for writing and a commitment to developing a book-length manuscript but who have not published a book or attended a MFA program.

Applicants are selected for the program based on the excellence of their writing and ability to complete their proposed writing project. Writing projects may include (but are not limited to) completing the first draft of a novel, memoir, poetry manuscript, or similar creative work, or revising and submitting a book-length project for publication. The residency is for personal writing projects (manuscripts) only, not community writing programs.

Virtual Info session: Monday, May 23 from 7-8pm via Zoom. View the info session recording here.

Deadline to apply: June 20

  

Benefits to Residents

  • Mentorship with professional writer for encouragement and accountability
  • A supportive writing cohort and environment
  • Free access to Literary Cleveland classes and programs (with some restrictions)
  • Participation in Inkubator Conference (as reader, presenter, or panelist)
  • Opportunities to develop teaching skills
  • Professional development consultation from working writers, agents, and more

 

What the Program Supports

  • The development of new writing 
  • Personal writing projects that will be completed within one year (manuscripts, not community writing projects)
  • Works not previously published and/or produced (excluding excerpts or individual poems or stories that are part of a larger project)
  • Works of writing, including, but not limited to, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction

 

Who Can Apply

The residency specifically aims to assist emerging writers who have not published a book and have not completed an MFA program.

We are especially interested in reaching writers with low or limited income for whom expensive writing opportunities are out of reach. Additionally, we encourage writers who are Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American Pacific Islander, or multihyphenate, those who identify as LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, and other members of communities historically underrepresented by and in the literary community to apply.

Applicants must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Resident of the Greater Cleveland/NortheastOhio area at the time of application and through completion of the residency period
  • Age 18 or older
  • Cannot be a current staff, board, or committee member of Literary Cleveland
  • Cannot be a graduate or undergraduate student in any degree program during the residency
  • Cannot already have and MFA or a traditionally published book  

 
Do not reject yourself! Don’t stop yourself from applying because you don’t want to take the opportunity away from someone else who needs it more. Apply and let us sort that part out! If you have any questions, email info@litcleveland.org.

Selection Process & Criteria

Applications are reviewed by an independent panel of writers working in a variety of disciplines. The panel will select finalists based on the following criteria:

  • Artistic excellence of work samples
  • Quality of the proposed writing project (manuscript)
  • Feasibility of and ability to complete the writing project (manuscript) 

Mentors will then select participants from the list of finalists.

 

Application Materials

  • Application form
  • Artist biography
  • Artist résumé or CV
  • Personal statement
  • Project description
  • Writing sample and description

Timeline

  • June 20 – Applications due  
  • August – Responses sent 
  • September – Residents publicly announced and introduced  
  • October – Orientation and first meetings with mentors
  • Nov-Aug – Regular weekly or bi-weekly check-ins with mentors, quarterly residents meetings
  • Sept/Oct – Final reading 

 

Mentors

Residents will work year round with the mentor in their genre. These mentors have experience with publishing, teaching, attending residencies, and receiving fellowships. They will help set your work plan for the year and will keep you accountable to writing deadlines and goals. See their full bios below.


Fiction: Laura Maylene Walter

Nonfiction: Eliese Colette Goldbach

Poetry: Kelly Harris-DeBerry

Questions? Email info@litcleveland.org

Cleveland, OH 44113

Our Presenters

Eliese Colette Goldbach

Eliese Colette Goldbach received an MFA in nonfiction from the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Program. Her writing has appeared in Ploughshares, Western Humanities Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Best American Essays 2017. Her first memoir, Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit, was published in March 2020 by Flatiron Books.

Kelly Harris-DeBerry

Before leaving Cleveland for love, Kelly Harris-DeBerry was a recipient of MOCA's Wendy L. Moore Emerging Artists Award and The Akron Museum of Art Poetry Prize. Now living in New Orleans, Kelly continues as a poet, freelance writer, literary curator, and owner of a small communications boutique that serves nonprofits and artists. Her debut book, Freedom Knows My Name (Xavier Review Press), was published in August 2020.

Laura Maylene Walter

Laura Maylene Walter is the author of the novel Body of Stars (Dutton, 2021) and the short story collection Living Arrangements (BkMk Press, 2011). Laura’s writing has appeared in Poets & Writers, Kenyon Review, Slate, The Sun, and many others. Laura is a founding editor of Literary Cleveland’s Gordon Square Review and is the Ohio Center for the Book Fellow at Cleveland Public Library, where she hosts Page Count, a literary podcast.

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