Inkubator Conference

July 11-25

Register Now

The Inkubator is Literary Cleveland's free annual festival for writers and readers! Each day from July 11-25 will feature a new program or event open to the public and available online, including multi-week workshops, readings, panel discussions, craft talks, open mics, and a keynote address. Altogether, the two-week online conference will be a public celebration of writing in Cleveland that advances writers’ individual abilities, furthers artistic dialogue, fosters a more connected literary community, and invites more people to write.

The Literary Cleveland Inkubator Conference 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, CWRU Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, The Northeast Ohio MFA program, Mac's Backs Books, Loganberry Books, Appletree Books, Hathaway Brown, and The Press Club of Cleveland.

Daytime Workshops and Writing Club

Beginning July 12

Generate new writing, learn new techniques, and improve your craft with our free two-session writing workshops and morning writing club. These classes meet before work, during lunchtime, and at happy hour so you can spend your work break or afternoon leveling up your writing.

New this year is our early morning writing club which meets virtually each weekday morning from 6-8am for community, accountability, and writing time. We also have new workshops just for teens and an intergenerational workshop for writing family stories. Plus we are hosting a special Sunday workshop called Witness: Reclaiming Our Stories for Connection that invites members of historically marginalized communities to gather in solidarity and use the Radical Engagement/Get Empathy storytelling process to dismantle the oppressive narrative structures.

All workshops take place remotely through Zoom video conferencing. Register for the workshop and Lit Cleveland will send you an invitation and instructions on how to attend via Zoom.

REGISTER HERE!

Early Ink: Morning Writing Club

Mon-Fri July 12-16 & 19-23 from 6-8am EST

Join us each weekday morning of the conference for community, accountability, and some serious writing time in our early morning writing club. Log in any time from 6-8am ET to write with fellow Inkubator attendees before work, school, or the rest of the day begins. You can set personal writing goals, join whenever works best for your schedule, and make progress on your writing. Abby Vandiver will lead week one and Rhonda Crowder will lead week two with optional prompts and writing sprints. Start each day write!

Presenters

Abby Vandiver, Rhonda Crowder

Genre

Multigenre

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So You Want to Publish a Memoir?

Monday, July 12 & 19 from 12-1pm EST

Maybe you have drafted a handful of chapters. Maybe you have an entire manuscript sitting on your desk. Maybe you already have the photo picked out for your book jacket. Now what? How do you put your story into the world? Come learn the ins and outs of the nonfiction industry with two writers who have recently planned, pitched, and published their own memoirs. Eliese Colette Goldbach and Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh will share details from their own journeys to help aspiring writers on the path toward publication. They’ll talk about strategies for landing an agent. They’ll reveal the secrets of a winning book proposal. They’ll discuss the difficult task of marketing your work, and they’ll tackle the emotions that arise when your personal tale is suddenly available on Amazon. As both of these authors know, finishing a memoir is the easy part. It’s then that the real work begins. Sponsored by the Northeast Ohio MFA program.

Presenters

Eliese Colette Goldbach, Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh

Genre

Nonfiction

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Visual Narratives: Creating a Printed Book

Monday, July 12 & 19 from 4-5pm EST

Put on your storytelling caps for this unique writing and book making class! At the end of the two-part session, participants will walk a way with a handmade book of their own creative writing. This class is open to writers and makers of all levels—no previous experience required! During the first session, students will dive into generative writing prompts to explore lyric and fragmented narrative forms with writer Sarah Minor. During the second session, artist Eugene Sarmiento will guide participants through step-by-step techniques to learn basic printmaking and bookbinding and create a handmade book that features their writing. Sponsored by the Northeast Ohio MFA program.

Instructors

Sarah Minor, Eugene Sarmiento

Genre

Multigenre

Register for this free event here

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How to Begin Your Work of Nonfiction

Tuesday, July 13 & 20 from 12-1pm EST

This class will explore how to begin a personal essay or work of creative nonfiction. What makes an effective or engaging opening? What different strategies are available and how might writers work towards their own style and voice within these tropes? The class will examine examples of different openings in works of creative nonfiction before writing their own openings that reflect and develop on these openings. Sponsored by the Northeast Ohio MFA program.

Presenters

Thomas Mira y Lopez

Genre

Nonfiction

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Family Stories: "Leaf Fall from the Family Tree”

Tuesday July 13 & 20 from 4-5pm EST

In this intergenerational workshop for individuals and family “teams,” we will sift through our memories, recollecting stories from the families we have found for ourselves or were born into. This workshop is for all ages. Writers are encouraged to invite an older/younger family member or a friend who has become family, but individual writers will also find inspiration and guidance for their recollecting and writing processes.

We will use a variety of prompts and brainstorming techniques as we seek out the stories we want to tell. Then writers will be given time to write their story (or poem). At our second workshop, we will share and celebrate our rough drafts and give each other encouraging feedback for revision.  Sponsored by Hathaway Brown.

Instructor

Cynthia Larsen

Genre

Multigenre

Register for this free event here

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The Shifty Speaker

Wednesday, July 14 & 21 from 12-1pm EST

Milosz famously said that the “purpose of poetry is to remind us / how difficult it is to remain just one person.” Often, we use the flexible space between a poet and their speaker to do this. However, this space doesn’t need to remain fixed in a poem, and in fact can often be expanded and contracted to surprise, beguile, and thrill the reader. In this workshop we’ll read poems that play with this distance, and practice writing our own that put on a mask so it can slip a little. Sponsored by the Northeast Ohio MFA program.

Presenters

Conor James Bracken

Genre

Poetry 

Register for this free event here

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Writing Multiple Storylines

Wednesday, July 14 & 21 from 4-5pm EST

In this interactive workshop, participants explore and discuss parallel story structures and investigate ways combining different perspectives or time lines deepen the plot, suspense, and mystery. Best-selling author D.M. Pulley shares her experiences weaving historical story threads into present day narratives. Through multiple examples, Pulley demonstrates different techniques to develop resonant story lines and ways to guide the reader along a shifting path. Together, participants outline the advantages and pitfalls of jumping back and forth in time or between characters and determine where best to use this technique in their own work. Sponsored by the Northeast Ohio MFA program.

Instructor

D. M. Pulley

Genre

Fiction

Register for this free event here

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Workshop for Teens: World Building for Story Tellers

Thursday, July 15 & 22 from 12-1pm EST

Every story takes place in a complex world—whether it’s in an alternate reality, outer space, or even set in Ohio. In this workshop we’ll learn how to create and develop believable worlds complete with animals, plants, climate, terrain, culture, and traditions. We'll make lists, draw maps, and respond to prompts together. Bring materials for drawing as well as writing. Sponsored by Hathaway Brown.

Note: you don’t have to be good at drawing to participate! The goal is to delve deeper into our fictional worlds, not to wind up with an artistic masterpiece.

Presenters

Lara Lillibridge

Genre

Teen fiction

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Writing Omniscient

Thursday, July 15 & 22 from 4-5pm EST

The third person omniscient point of view is the most open and flexible POV available to writers. Learn how to write it, avoid head hopping and guide the reader through your story in a unique way. Sponsored by the Northeast Ohio MFA program.

Instructor

Abby L. Vandiver

Genre

Fiction

Register for this free event here

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Workshop For Teens: Poetry and Justice

Friday, July 16 & 23 from 12-1pm EST

This workshop explores how to write poetry rooted in activism that is persuasive rather than alienating. Effective political poetry requires more than an opinionated stance; thoughtfulness, accuracy, and authenticity are also necessary to win over readers. To understand this balance, we will study overtly political work such as Lucille Clifton and Danez Smith alongside more gentle poems of social change by Ross Gay and Joy Harjo in order to generate our own poems of justice. Sponsored by Hathaway Brown.

Presenters

Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello

Genre

Poetry 

Register for this free event here

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Let it Go! Let it Go! Editing and Revising Poems

Friday, July 16 & 23 from 4-5pm EST

Are your poems frozen in the same narratives, forms, themes, styles? What are you willing to give up to make a poem better?  How do you embrace revisions and editing without letting insecurities get in the way? Whether on stage or page, editing and revising are necessary tools to strengthen writing.This workshop will challenge participants to think beyond what initially triggered a poem to be written and provide tools to find new creative opportunities. Sponsored by the Northeast Ohio MFA program.

Presenters

Kelly Harris-DeBerry

Genre

Poetry

Register for this free event here

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Witness: Reclaiming Our Stories for Connection

Sunday, July 18 & 25 from 1-4pm EST

Today’s current political, cultural and social environments are wrought with anxiety, fear, and polarization. As minority communities, we mostly live within a larger narrative created by others often with few places to explore, find and share our voice.

In this two-part workshop for anyone who is a member of a historically marginalized or oppressed community, we will use the Radical Engagement / Get Empathy storytelling process to dismantle the dominant narrative structures that limit the validation, telling and listening to these stories.


Instructor

Kauser Razvi

Genre

Multigenre

Register for this free event here

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Week 1 Events

July 11-17

Our opening week of the conference features a kickoff reading and discussion, poetry presentations and panels, a virtual open mic, and a special event featuring New Yorker writers from Cleveland. We are also hosting an in-person pop-up event at the Cleveland Public Library Eastman Garden. All other events will take place remotely online via Zoom and there is no limit on attendance. Register for free by following the links below.

REGISTER HERE!

Inkubator Kickoff

Sunday, July 11 from 7-8:30pm EST

Help us kick off Literary Cleveland's two-week Inkubator Conference with exciting readings and a panel discussion titled “Walking the Talk: Literary Community In 2021” featuring representatives from local literary nonprofits, community programs, libraries and universities. In the past year writers have reckoned with what it means to be connected through our biology, our books, and our live streams of court proceedings. How will Cleveland’s literary community apply these experiences across our teaching, writing, and organizing in the next few years? This panel will invite community members from regional literary nonprofits, community programs and universities to think collaboratively about the questions: How do each of us act as agents of change within deeply ingrained systems? What will “equity” and “inclusion” mean for our diverse and physically dispersed literary community in the future?

Presenters

Ali Black, Stephanie Ginese, Dr. Leah Lewis, Philip Metres, Sarah Minor

Genre

Multigenre

Register for this free event here

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How to Order Your Poetry Manuscript

Monday, July 12 from 7-8:30pm EST

This class gives you a hands-on approach to finding the best order for your manuscript to keep readers (and contest judges) hooked. Topics include why editors care about poem order, publishing industry insight, recent trends in literary awards, ethical considerations, and more. Open to everyone interested in publishing a poetry book, whether you are just starting out or have a completed manuscript. Sponsored by Loganberry Books.

Presenters

Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello

Genre

Poetry

Register for this free event here

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Writing Illness: The Pandemic & Beyond

Tuesday, July 13 from 7-8:30pm EST

This panel will gather authors experienced in writing about illness to consider the work of writing about, and after, COVID-19. What can writing offer, as a space for mourning and for healing, as a call for racial and socioeconomic justice, for responsibility toward those who remain ill, and for rebuilding of community after isolation and through vulnerability? How do we help each other find language for the personal, systemic, and global nature of this pandemic? This panel hopes to offer some places to start. Sponsored by Mac's Backs Books.

Presenters

Caren Beilin, Ali Black, Leora Fridman, Hilary Plum

Genre

Multigenre

Register for this free event here

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So You Wrote a Short Story—Now What?

Wednesday, July 14 from 7-8:30pm EST

We'll cover how to identify markets to sell your work to, how to respectfully submit, and what to expect from the short-fiction publication world, as well as cover some tools to help you on your way. Sponsored by Mac's Backs Books.

Presenters

Marie Vibbert

Genre

Fiction

Register for this free event here

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Poetry & Basketball

Thursday, July 15 from 7-8:30pm EST

From the first Olympics in ancient Greece, where poets would gather to share their works and write poems for the victors, writers and athletes have competed with each other. Some modern writers, like panelists David Tomas Martinez, Philip Metres, and Tomás Q. Morín, sharpened their ball skills, their attention to detail, their verbal and non-verbal communication, and their team play, on the basketball court. This panel will explore the art of athletics and the athletics of art, calling a truce between the jocks and nerds once and for all. Sponsored by Mac's Backs Books.

Presenters

Philip Metres, Tomás Q. Morín, David Tomas Martinez

Genre

Poetry

Register for this free event here

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Inkubator Open Mic with One Mic Open

Friday, July 16 from 7-9pm EST

Raise your voice and tell your story! The Inkubator open mic is your chance to be featured during the conference or to hear the best upcoming talent in our area. If you want to read, check the box when you register for the event on Zoom. Readers will be drawn from a hat. Join host Eric Odum from One Mic Open for the chance to read your work at a virtual open mic.

Presenters

Eric Odum

Genre

Open mic

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From Dream to Reality: Publishing a Debut Novel

Saturday, July 17 from 10-11:30am EST

Authors Nancy Johnson, Eman Quotah, Laura Maylene Walter, and E. Lily Yu discuss how they came to publish their debut novels in 2021. Panelists will offer insight surrounding the writing and revision process; working with agents and editors; the highlights and challenges of the publication experience; debuting during a pandemic; lessons learned along the way; and practical advice for aspiring writers. Sponsored by Loganberry Books.

Presenters

Nancy Johnson, Eman Quotah, Laura Maylene Walter, and E. Lily Yu

Genre

Fiction

Register for this free event here

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Inkubator Pop-Up Led by Starlight Elsewhere

Saturday, July 17 from 12-5pm EST

Join us Saturday, July 17 in-person for an outdoor literary pop-up and book fair featuring community-building events led by Starlight Elsewhere! Stop by the Eastman Reading Garden at the downtown Cleveland Public Library any time from 12-5pm for a book fair featuring local stores & presses as well as a DJ and food and drink vendors.

Beginning at 1pm, Anisfield-Wolf Fellow Kamden Hilliard will lead a community-building workshop on how to support, create, and maintain ethical, sustainable communities around literature. Then at 3pm, Inkubator Fellow and Starlight Elsewhere creator J. David will host an open mic with a kickoff reading from poet Lisa Summe.

Don't miss this opportunity to gather and build community!

Presenters

J. David, Kamden Hilliard, Lisa Summe

Genre

Multigenre

RSVP for this free event here

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Cleveland New Yorker Writers

Saturday, July 17 from 7-8:30pm EST

Cleveland is home to more writers on The New Yorker staff than almost any other city in the country. In this panel discussion with New Yorker writers and Cleveland natives Andy Borowitz, Mary Norris, and Kathryn Schulz, we will explore their backgrounds, their magazine writing, what influence Cleveland had or has on their work, and what makes Northeast Ohio such fertile ground for writers. Sponsored by Appletree Books and The Press Club of Cleveland.

Presenters

Andy Borowitz, Mary Norris, and Kathryn Schulz

Genre

Nonfiction

Register for this free event here

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Week 2 Events

July 18-25

Week two of the conference features prose presentations and panels, a program featuring New York editors, a Lake Erie Ink event for teens, and a special event featuring Viet Thanh Nguyen and Thrity Umrigar (keep scrolling for our keynote with Claudia Rankine). Events will take place remotely online via and there is no limit on attendance. Register for free by following the links below.

REGISTER HERE!

Ethical Representation in Writing

Sunday, July 18 from 7-8:30pm EST

We all want to make our literature diverse and inclusive. But how do we ethically write about identities that we do not belong to? This panel explores how to create diverse representation without stealing the spotlight away from other authors that belong to those underrepresented groups. Nonfiction author and DEI leader Dr. Deborah L. Plummer will be joined by writers and instructors to discuss ethical boundaries in different genres and identity groups. Sponsored by Loganberry Books.

Panelists

Dr. Deborah L. Plummer, more to come

Genre

Multigenre

Register for this free event here

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Convictions: Creative Writing/Performing Workshops in Prison

Monday, July 19 from 7-8:30pm EST

The panelists plan to share their experiences in leading creative writing and performing in prison programs throughout the U.S. and especially Ohio. They can inform the audience of opportunities for writers to work and volunteer as creative writers now as programming begins to open post- (dare we say?) covid. They will also address questions on what writers might avoid, and what they might learn for their own writing. Most of all, they may, in the words of Gorfain, help incarcerated residents “transform their lives as they seek to redeem their pasts and remake their futures.” Sponsored by Mac's Backs Books.

Presenters

Christopher Dum, Phyllis Gorfain, Annie Holden, Diane Kendig, Zachary Thomas

Genre

Multigenre

Register for this free event here

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How to Research

Tuesday, July 20 from 7-8:30pm EST

In this workshop, you'll learn all the skills you need to research non-fiction, look up information for your next novel, and even how to find the truth behind a suspicious social media post.

In this primer on researching, we'll cover: beyond the Google search: Google Books and Ngram viewer, how to find primary sources and when to trust secondary sources. how to access academic articles and scientific studies (and why you should), how to research historical figures using Ancestry.com and newspaper databases, when you need to go to the library/archive (and when you don’t), and the importance of research experiences—go touch a thing, see a thing, and do a thing.

We'll practice analyzing sources throughout class and there will be plenty of time for Q&A! Sponsored by Loganberry Books.

Presenters

Sarah Lohman

Genre

Nonfiction

Register for this free event here

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Eyes of the Editor: Inside the Book Business

Wednesday, July 21 from 7-8:30pm EST

Discover the behind-the-scenes of publishing with some of the business’s hottest editors. Editors Angela Kim (Berkley), Kate Napolitano (Dey Street), Nadxieli Nieto (Flatiron Books), Shannon Jamison-Vazquez (Little,Brown), will share what they do, what they’re seeking, the state of the industry, and how books come to be. Brave participants are encouraged to send in the first paragraphs of their novels or non-fiction manuscripts for brief editor feedback. Moderated by Literary Cleveland Board President Brandi Larsen. Sponsored by Appletree Books.

Presenters

Angela Kim, Kate Napolitano, Nadxieli Nieto, Shannon Jamison-Vazquez

Genre

Business of Writing

Register for this free event here

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Teen Book Launch & Open Mic with Lake Erie Ink

Thursday, July 22 from 7-8:30pm EST

What's on the other side? Find out at the anthology release party for Lake Erie Ink’s 5th teen writing anthology, On the Other Side. Teen contributors will share poetry, fiction, personal stories, and art and editors will share their experiences about putting it all together. Teen open mic to follow. Sponsored by Mac's Backs Books.

Presenters

Lake Erie Ink, teen contributors

Genre

Multigenre

Register for this free event here

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Creative Risks: A Conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen and Thrity Umrigar

Friday, July 23 from 7-8:30pm EST

In this discussion between Pulitzer Prize winner and MacArthur Fellow Viet Thanh Nguyen and best-selling author Thrity Umrigar, we will explore the risks of creativity and creation, whether it is experimenting with a new genre or form, breaking with convention or expectation, engaging personal or political material, or fighting to dismantle systems of oppression. From Viet Thanh Nguyen's most recent work, "The Committed," to Thrity Umrigar's forthcoming novel "Honor," to both authors' children's books, we will explore the intersections of their writing and learn why every act of creativity or creation is a risk we should take. Sponsored by Loganberry Books.

Presenters

Viet Thanh Nguyen, Thrity Umrigar

Genre

Fiction

Register for this free event here

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Solutions Journalism: Seeking to Tell the Whole Story

Saturday, July 24 from 10-11:30am EST

In the last year, the local journalism landscape in Cleveland has undergone a major shift. The loss of Plain Dealer union jobs and birth of new projects including The Land, Cleveland Documenters, The Cleveland Observer and more have reinvented how news is reported, framed, and distributed locally. Central to this new landscape is the Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative, a collection of 22 partner newsrooms in Greater Cleveland "passionate about news and information, amplifying the voices of those often unheard, and changing the narrative about our communities."

But what is solutions journalism, what makes it unique, how is it being implemented in Cleveland, and what does it mean for the future of journalism and of our city?

The participants in this panel will discuss how solutions journalism provides a balanced, complete look at a story. They will address the best research, reporting, and interviewing techniques and how journalists incorporate those components into a well-structured, well-written article. And they will discuss how the approach is being applied in publications locally and nationally to "tell stories that lift up ways to solve issues that plague our communities and change the conversation about what’s possible." Sponsored by Appletree Books.

Presenters

Sharon Broussard, Ron Calhoun, Lee Chilcote, Rachel Dissell, Claudia Longo, and moderator Christopher Johnston

Genre

Nonfiction

Register for this free event here

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Common Ground Community Discussion

Saturday, July 24 from 2-4pm EST

Tara Pringle Jefferson and Karen R. Long of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards will host "An American Conversation," the subtitle of "Just Us," in advance of Claudia Rankine's keynote for Inkubator. Guests will read, hear and discuss excerpts from Rankine's 2020 book. Participants will use the author's insights to consider what whiteness means in Cleveland. Registration opens June 2 via Common Ground. This event takes place Saturday, July 24 at 2pm in person outdoors at the Rockefeller Greenhouse (750 E 88th St, Cleveland, OH 44108).

Presenters

Tara Pringle Jefferson and Karen R. Long

Genre

Discussion


Register for this free event here.

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How Storytelling Can Lead to Social Change

Sunday, July 25 from 3-4:30pm EST

Using personal narratives as a catalyst for collective social impact, Asian American creatives and change-makers from OPAWL - Building AAPI Feminist Leadership and OBG - OtherBrownGirl.com will share innovative, disruptive, movement building projects that re-write and challenge the dominant cultural narratives that shape our world.

Centering the voices of women and gender expansive leaders, activists, artists, educators, and writers Dr. Naazneen Diwan, Jing Lauengco, and Emily Hanako Momohara, this powerful panel explores the practices of AAPI creativity, intersectionality, grassroots community organizing, and resilience that uplift immigrant stories to create social and political change. Sponsored by Loganberry Books.

Presenters

Dr. Naazneen Diwan, Jing Lauengco, Emily Hanako Momohara

Genre

Multigenre

Register for this free event here

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Closing Ceremony

Sunday, July 25 from 7-8pm ET

Join us for the closing ceremony of Literary Cleveland's two-week Inkubator Conference. We will look back at the conference and look ahead to what is next!

Presenters

Literary Cleveland staff, guest readers

Genre

Multigenre

Register for this free event here

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Keynote

July 24

REGISTER HERE!

Keynote: Claudia Rankine

Saturday, July 24 from 7-8:30pm EST

Keynote speaker Claudia Rankine will talk with ideastream reporter Shelli Reeves about her writing and read from Just Us: An American Conversation, which uses essays, poems, and images to urge us to break silences around race and white supremacy and begin the discussions that might open pathways through this divisive and stuck moment in American history. This event is presented by the Cleveland Public Library. Books available for purchase from Mac's Backs Books.

Presenters

Claudia Rankine, Shelli Reeves

Genre

Multigenre

Register for this free event here

More Details

The Inkubator is Literary Cleveland's free annual festival for writers and readers! Each day from July 11-25 will feature a new program or event open to the public and available online, including multi-week workshops, readings, panel discussions, craft talks, open mics, and a keynote address. Altogether, the two-week online conference will be a public celebration of writing in Cleveland that advances writers’ individual abilities, furthers artistic dialogue, fosters a more connected literary community, and invites more people to write.

The Literary Cleveland Inkubator Conference 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, CWRU Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, The Northeast Ohio MFA program, Mac's Backs Books, Loganberry Books, Appletree Books, Hathaway Brown, and The Press Club of Cleveland.

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