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6th Annual
Fall Literary Festival
October 20-22, 2022 Live 
Youngstown, Ohio

Conference Theme: “The Places That Make Us”

Featured Presenters: Laura Beadling (film scholar & screenwriter), Candace Fleming (children's & YA literature), Kelly Fordon (fiction writer), Karla Murthy (filmmaker) & Joy Priest (poet)

Used Books

Since 2016, Lit Youngstown's Fall Literary Festival has been a celebration of the literary arts, with creative readings, workshops, craft talks, and panels on writing, understanding, publishing, editing, and teaching literary works. We have welcomed hundreds of presenters, including Lesley Nneka Arimah, David Giffels, Janet Wong, Denise Duhamel, Philip Metres, Robert Olmstead, Sandra Beasley, and George Ella Lyon. Daytime sessions take place at Youngstown State, and evening readings in downtown Youngstown.


Featured Presenters

Image by Macau Photo Agency

October 20
Gathering In 

7:00 - 9:00 pm

Warm welcome, Fall Literary Festival attendees and presenters! Join us downtown for an open mic and reception, and the start of a great conference. Free and open to the public. Moderator Samantha Imperi.

The Concept Studio 217 W. Federal St.


October 21

Youngstown State Kilcawley Center
Walk-In Registration $85
Friday 8:30- 9:15 

Presenter book drop off, registration 

Friday 9:15-9:30

Welcome & Announcements, Director Karen Schubert 

Friday 9:30- 5:00

Book fair open

Friday Session 1 9:45-10:45 AM

Creative Reading

Mixby Dickon, Jim Ferris, Sara Moore Wagner

Moderator Laurin Wolf


​​Mixby Dickon will read from Dear Cis Readers, a collection of poems that touch on subjects of gender and the body, especially in regards to being non-binary. Other themes explored in the poems include relationships, mental health, and chosen family.

Jim Ferris: "During the pandemic lockdown I started a series of self-portrait poems that became as much about place, disability and race as about the surface of what appeared in the mirror. This reading will draw from those poems to explore some of the possibilities presented by the self-portrait poem."

Sara Moore Wagner will read from her debut poetry collection Swan Wife, which won the 2021 Cider Press Review Editor's Prize. This book is about a woman who’s never seen herself as a “wife,” in the traditional sense, about facing the societal expectations for a "housewife:", and then, about ultimately breaking free of those expectations to form something else—something rooted in real love and understanding. It uses myth and fairy tale to explore how we understand ourselves in marriage, especially if we come from a different world than our partner. It loosely follows the story of the “Crane Wife.”

Life Like: Crafting Memorable Settings in Creative Works

Melissa Dunlap & Amanda Miller

Moderator Gabriel Welsch

Life Like: Crafting Memorable Settings in Creative Works will focus on memorable settings in literature and popular culture in order to guide participants in creating settings within fiction, nonfiction, prose and poem in a way that enables the setting to feel tangible to the reader. This session will include discussion of memorable settings in books and movies, and time for participants to create or enhance their own settings in order to inspire the imagination.

Honoring Others with Our Fiction Research

June Gervais
Moderator Heather Dobbins

Writing a novel may lead us into territory beyond our expertise: occupations, time periods, regions, identities. We have a responsibility to get the details (and our spirits) right. For those of us whose greatest fear is doing harm, causing offense, or making a mistake, it can seem safer to just stick with autobiographical fiction! But letting a story draw us into respectful research is part of serving the work and honoring others. When approached humbly and thoughtfully, can research become a rewarding experience for everyone involved, and--occasionally--even lead us into moments of awe? And if so, how?


​​Writing Great Nonfiction With Kids

Candace Fleming 

Moderator Anthony Manna

Can kids write engaging nonfiction?  Absolutely!  In this fast-paced presentation, award-winning author Candace Fleming will share her secrets for creating fascinating nonfiction.  Participants will not only discover strategies for effective research and directed inquiry, but they will also leave with tips for creating exciting “true stories” that are fun to write... and read!

Poem and Place Caught on Film: An Interactive Workshop Responding to Photography, Movies, and Other Art Forms

Marjorie Maddox

Moderator Jackie Mercer

During this hands-on workshop for writers of both prose and poetry, participants will discuss and practice not only writing about place, but specifically those spaces we encounter through photography, movies, and other art forms. The presenter’s 20 books include Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For, a collaboration with photographer K. Elias, and the forthcoming In the Museum of My Daughter’s Mind, an ekphrastic response to 30 works of art and photography. Film clips, visuals from the books, and journalistic photography may serve as generative springboards for poems or flash prose. Come ready to view, discuss, focus, write.

Friday Session 2 11:00-12:00

Film Screening Peerless City

Director Amanda Page

Moderator Laura Beadling

Sponsored by Grace Ruth Memorial Endowed Professorship in English

If you've heard of Portsmouth, Ohio, it's because you're either 1.) from there, or 2.) seen it mentioned in a headline that claims it is the "pill mill capital of America." But, before it was "ground zero for the opioid epidemic," it was the "Peerless City," hyped by enthusiastic boosters, revered by its residents, and economic rival to Cincinnati and other cities along the Ohio River.


The film Peerless City tells the story of Portsmouth, from its days as the "Peerless City," through its time as "Where Southern Hospitality Begins," to the present day, as it works to be the "Comeback City." We explore the impact a slogan has on civic pride, on a sense of history, and how a slogan can inspire a sense of belonging in the people who live in the place it is meant to represent.



From the Small Screen to the Big Screen:  Crafting Stories for News and Documentary Films

Karla Murthy​

Moderator Rikki Santer

Sponsored by the Center for Working-Class Studies

In 2016, TV reporter Karla Murthy was sent to Youngstown, Ohio, to produce a news segment for PBS NewsHour, a fateful assignment that would begin her journey to make her first feature film, The Place That Makes Us.  Akin to writing a newspaper article and a narrative non-fiction book on the same subject, Karla explores the confines and freedoms of the newsmagazine format versus the documentary feature film. Comparing and contrasting similar thematic video clips from each, Karla pulls back the curtain to reveal not only the process, but how her journey from reporter to filmmaker led her to embrace the unexpected. 


Creative Reading

Ashley Cowger, Jan LaPerle, Tara Stillions Whitehead

Moderator Barrett Warner

Tara Stillions Whitehead's The Year of the Monster, Jan LaPerle's Maybe the Land Sings Back, and Ashley Cowger's forthcoming How to Figure all speak to a darkness that moves through you, changes you, tests you, excites and lifts you back up. These authors write what's right out their windows, caring less for the distant shade on the horizon.

​​Crabgrass and Hummingbirds: A Generative Workshop with a Focus on Incorporating -- and Maximizing -- Natural Elements in Poetry and Prose

Erica Anderson-Senter, Christian Whitney

Moderator Marissa Snyder

In this generative workshop, we'll discuss excerpts that maximize the use of the natural world. After, we'll have exercises in both poetry and prose to help make the most of our natural settings.

Moving Past Influence

Mary Biddinger, Ali Black, Dylan Morris

Moderator Gabriel Welsch

Sponsored by the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts

Being influenced by someone is inevitable in creative writing. Some of those influences will stay with us for the rest of our writing career in different modalities. This panel of student and experienced writers will talk about one major influence on their work. For a beginning writer, copying or mirroring technique is one of the first ways to develop a style, but there aren't discussions on how to move beyond those model writers. This roundtable will give the audience the confidence and knowledge to move forward into the next phase of their development as writers.

Creative Reading

Karen Frank, Jeff Gundy, Becca J.R. Lachman

Moderator Heather Dobbins

Karen Frank's Pottery Town Blues is a collection of short stories set in East Liverpool, Ohio.


Wind Farm: Landscape with Stories and Towers explores the human and natural geography of the Illinois prairie landscape of Jeff Gundy’s youth, transformed long ago by the grid system of roads and ditches and intensive agriculture, and altered again by a vast wind farm. These deeply personal yet wide-ranging lyrical essays—whimsical, practical, and mystical, sometimes within the same paragraph—range across football and chicken farming, power grids and Mennonite history, folk music and mound-builders, set off by Gundy’s own photographs. Wind Farm investigates the imagined past and intricate present of one small portion of the prairie, and glimpses possible futures for it and the planet.

Becca J.R. Lachman "My most recent poetry helps tell the story of my aging body and home, both under renovation for the last decade. As we literally built onto our house, hoping for a family, I moved through endometriosis and infertility into a place of reckoning, acceptance, and creating again. I'll read from What I Say to This House, (a forthcoming book-length poem), My Friends' Enormous Children, (manuscript looking for a home), and from poems written while fostering-to-adopt during the pandemic-- all work that's asked me to step out of isolation and into feisty, messy, beautiful community again."


Friday 12:00-1:00

Lunch on our own

Grab a bite ​at the Kilcawley Center food court or one of the great coffee shops in the neighborhood.

Literary Arts Administrators Caucus

Literary Journal Editors Caucus

Friday 1:00-2:00

Changing Narratives and Building Connection: the Power of Documentary Film to Redefine, Reimagine, and Break Stereotypes by Creating Empathy
Karla Murthy

Moderator Chris Barzak

Sponsored by the Center for Working-Class Studies

As society has become increasingly and dangerously divided, empathy through the arts is now more than ever a vital and powerful tool to bring people together.  In this talk, filmmaker and reporter Karla Murthy will explore the subtle beauty of documentary as a vehicle to create an understanding of people's experiences unlike our own. Using clips from her award winning documentary film about Youngstown Ohio, Karla will unpack how her film sought to create new narratives, and in the process, made her confront her own stereotypes of Youngstown as an outsider, while exploring the essential role of the artist today to help transform and reimagine the world around us.

Friday Session 3 2:15-3:15


​​Workshop: Let's Deconstruct a Story Part 1

Kelly Fordon

Moderator Marissa Snyder

Examining the components of a story is the key to writing a good one. In this workshop, we will read and deconstruct a story by one contemporary short story writer, delving deeply into their choice of POV, plot, setting, tone, and structure. We will also spend some time with writing prompts based on this selection. At the end of this workshop, participants will have gained insight into the craft of fiction and will have mapped out the beginning of at least one story. The selection may include a story by a contemporary short story writer such as Danielle Evans, Lily King, Robin Martin, Alice Munro, Peter Orner, and Rion Amilcar Scott, among others. 

​Literary Mapping: The Place in Our Metaphors

Joy Priest

Moderator Jim Ferris

Sponsored by WYSU

Much has been said about “poetry of place,” but, what does it really mean? What makes a writer, a writer of place? And how can one write a place well? In this interactive craft talk, we’ll investigate how the places that we are from inform the figurative language that we use to make our images, and in turn, how those images can create a literary map of a particular region across a longer work. We will begin with a review by Allison Pitinii Davis that introduces the concept of “literary mapping,” and an essay by Ocean Vuong that discusses “the autobiography of sight.” Finally we’ll look at poets writing within the working-class experience from a particular place: Afaa Weaver (Baltimore), Diane Gilliam Fisher (West Virginia/Kentucky), James Wright (OH-WV-PA tri-state area), Rochelle Hurt (Youngstown), Phillip Levine (Detroit), Allison Pitinii Davis (Youngstown), and Joy Priest (Louisville/Appalachia).

​Marketing Your Book--Tips from a Professional Marketer and Writer

Gabriel Welsch

Moderator Christopher Barzak

You've got the book contract--now what? How do you let the world know, generate pre-orders, get it reviewed, develop your platform, and land sales and readings? Hear from a seasoned marketing professional on marketing practices that work especially well for literary writers--with a few surprisingly effective tips most writers don't consider.


Literary Citizenship: Writing for Other Writers

Christina Consolino, Meredith Doench, Erin Flanagan, Amy Gustine

Moderator McKayla Rockwell

This panel will discuss ways to uplift other writers through writing book reviews, an author-interview series, writing craft essays, and outreach in underrepresented communities.

Creative Reading

Julia Wendell, Matthew Graham

Moderator Barrett Warner

For most of us, music in a poem means someone wearing a Jethro Tull t-shirt who's about to jump off a rock into a lake. That lake is deeper than anyone imagined. And that rock will be sand one day. Matthew Graham and Julia Wendell met at the Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1981, he working closely with Donald Justice who could find a rhythm in a haystack, and she with Larry Levis who never let rhythm get in the way of a left turn. This reading will show you where we can take music in a poem, and where the music can take us--on a piano, in a painting, on a horse, in the quiet past, in the noisy now.

Friday Session 4 3:30-4:30

Film Screening Proud Citizen

Written by Katerina Stoykova and Thomas Southerland

Moderator Laura Beadling

Sponsored by the Grace Ruth Memorial Endowed Professorship in English

After winning second place in a play writing contest, Bulgarian Krasimira Stanimirova travels to the rolling hills of Kentucky for the premiere of her autobiographical, Communist-era play Black Coat. Expecting southern hospitality, Krasi instead finds herself isolated and lonely as she explores America on foot. Proud Citizen is a funny, sometimes heartbreaking meditation on disappointment, traveling, the comfort of strangers and the joy of funnel cakes.
Jury Prize - Best Narrative Feature/ New Orleans Film Festival. Best of Fest/River's Edge International Film Festival. Audience Award/Knoxville Film Festival. Best Narrative Feature/Athens International Film + Video Festival. Audience Award/RiverRun International Film Festival


Redirection as Reinvigoration

Molly Fuller, Robert Miltner, Melanie Murphy

Moderator Barbara Sabol

Sponsored by the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts

This three-poet panel will present a reading of poems created by way of inspiration and influence of other writers, other works, other perspectives, other times.


Fiction Workshop: Let's Deconstruct a Story Part 2

Kelly Fordon​

Moderator Karen Frank

Examining the components of a story is the key to writing a good one. In this workshop, we will read and deconstruct a story by one contemporary short story writer, delving deeply into their choice of POV, plot, setting, tone, and structure. We will also spend some time with writing prompts based on this selection. At the end of this workshop, participants will have gained insight into the craft of fiction and will have mapped out the beginning of at least one story. The selection may include a story by a contemporary short story writer such as Danielle Evans, Lily King, Robin Martin, Alice Munro, Peter Orner, and Rion Amilcar Scott, among others. 


Rikki Santer

Moderator Barbara Marie Minney

The poet is at the movies
dreaming the filmmaker’s dream but differently
free in the dark as if asleep…
from “Images for Godard” by Adrienne Rich

Join award-winning poet Rikki Santer in exploring ways that poetry and film can be in conversation with each other.  In this workshop, Santer will present film clips and poems to demonstrate how the movies have influenced and energized poets.  Participants will glean ways to adapt cinematic techniques for their own poems as well as prompts to inspire them to create poems in response to the movies.


The Danger of Forced Silence: Why Fighting Book Bannings and Problematic Educational Legislation Matters

Christopher Barzak, Jackie Mercer, Sarah Valingo

Moderator Tim Francisco

Sponsored by the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts

In this panel session led by moderator Dr. Tim Francisco, author Christopher Barzak, high school teacher Sarah Valingo, and university faculty member and former high school teacher Jackie Mercer will discuss current proposed legislation in Ohio that sets to strip away the rights of teachers and create pathways for the removal of books and other texts from the K-12 classroom. Panel members will present their takes on proposed legislation in both Ohio and nation-wide and will discuss the need for diverse texts and ways to keep these texts in the hands of students.

Launching a Writer’s Residency on the Eve of a Pandemic

Arlan Hess, Dade Lemanski, Alyssa Velazquez

Moderator Laurin Wolf

The City Books Writer-in-Residence program was launched in February 2020. Due to the pandemic, however, the first year of the residency program was forced into the virtual space. As a result, current and former residents have had widely varying experiences. Moderated by Arlan Hess, shop owner and residency founder, this roundtable features current & former residents Dade Lemanski and Alyssa Velazquez and covers topics such as developing a residency, managing the application process, (re-) defining “space,” completing a residency during a pandemic, creating a routine, writing after the residency, and growing a locally-based residency program.

Strengthening Artistic Communities Through Podcasts

Jeremy Jusek
Moderator Laurin Wolf

This talk uses the Ohio Poetry Association’s podcast Poetry Spotlight as a case study for how podcasts can be utilized by small, creative groups to humanize its members and strengthen communities. The presentation will cover the added value podcasts bring artistic communities by focusing on four major benefits: (1) increased member recognition, (2) empowerment of members by recognizing nuanced achievement, (3) the humanization of digital profiles, and (4) added benefit of membership. The presentation will end by showing the structure and format of the OPA’s podcast Poetry Spotlight, and reflect on its strengths and weaknesses.

Friday 5:00-6:00
Tour of the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor
Sponsored by the Center for Working-Class Studies
Happy Hour at Noble Creature Cask House


You choose what works best for you. Want to know more about Youngstown? Join us at the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor for a tour. Want to rest and chat with other attendees? Join us at Noble Creature Cask House for a drink and great atmosphere. 

6:00 Dinner & Jazz

St. John's Episcopal Church

7:00 Creative Reading by Kelly Fordon & Joy Priest
Charity Morris, Winner of the Lou Yuhasz Writing Award
Sponsored by WYSU, the Centofanti Foundation and the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts
Free and open to the public
St. John's Episcopal Church | 323 Wick Ave.

Close out the first day of the festival in the historic stone sanctuary at St. John's Episcopal Church, with a reading and book signing by featured presenters Kelly Fordon and Joy Priest and Lou Yuhasz Writing Award winner Charity Morris.

Evening Reading 1

October 22

Youngstown State Kilcawley Center
Walk-In Registration $85
Saturday 9:15-9:30

Welcome & Announcements, Director Karen Schubert

Saturday 9:30-5:00

Book fair open

Session 1 9:45-10:45 AM

Tricks for Dialogue with Personality
Laura Beadling
Moderator Julie Cancio Harper
Do your characters tend to sound similar? This session will discuss tricks and tips for writing dialogue with vivid personality.


Creating a Creative Writing Infrastructure at the Community College

Michael Dittman, Jacqueline Kunkel

Moderator Samantha Casey

Sponsored by the Centofanti Foundation

While community colleges are often overlooked when it comes to creative writing, our unique mission, student body, and involvement in the community creates rich opportunity. Our panelists will discuss our efforts and rewards in developing new creative writing courses, clubs, reading series, and publications at Butler Community College in the last five years. Our presentation will also discuss identifying stakeholders on campus and in the community and efforts at promoting creative writing with students who often have a more vocational mindset.

Creative Reading

Susan McKenzie, Mary Ozbolt, Amber Ree Robinson

Moderator Rebe Huntman

In an effort to understand the complex truth of her identity, middle-aged writer Susan McKenzie reflects upon the enduring moments with her uniquely fierce and loving mother.

Mary Ozbolt's work focuses on motherhood, surrealism, sexuality, and the ways in which they conflict or overlap with biblical teachings. Her writing is fueled by matrilineal generational trauma passed down through Catholicism, but she subverts the religious teachings in conversation with witchcraft and the occult. Her poetry is heavily autobiographical and familial, incorporating ancestry research from Eastern Europe.

We all are searching for our place in time and space. We collect the largest units and carry on, making the world’s largest circuits of life—networks that demonstrate life, vitality, sentiment. We have to realize that we are both separate and a part of the world as well. This fragmented balance is what we seek. Amber Ree Robinson seeks to share pieces inspired by the areas of her upbringing and the creation of “home” and stability within her late “Auntie’s” embrace through concise creative works based on memory and unbridled love.

How to Get Somewhere Without Going There: A Panel Discussion on Writing Authentically about Place

Marion Starling Boyer, Marjorie Maddox, Barbara Sabol

Moderator William Heath

A panel of three poets will offer different perspectives on writing authentically about real and imagined landscapes (home, abroad, Mars, Antarctica), as well as the interior landscapes of trauma, resilience, and joy, both contemporary and historical. To illustrate how they each met these challenges, the poets will share examples of their work and discuss the difficulties of credibly capturing both the familiar and unfamiliar, and the strategies they used to shape individual poems as well as book-length manuscripts. Additional topics may include narration, context, point of view, research, interviews, and the persona and ekphrastic poem.

Building Community & Empathy through Creative Writing

Cynthia Larsen, Amy Rosenbluth

Moderator Marissa Snyder

Sponsored by the Centofanti Foundation

Experience creative writing activities that build community, connection, and empathy in the K-12 classroom. Play with writing, try new prompts and activities. Discover ways to connect with your students through creative writing. Leave with resources, handouts, inspiration, and (hopefully) a smile on your face.

Persevering to Publication: Some Practical Tips

June Gervais

Moderator Janet Beard

You dream of seeing your novel in bookstores, but the process seems interminable, and you're tired of all the relatives saying "Why don’t you just self-publish?" (A fine option, but not as easy as the relatives think.) Ten years passed between the day I thought I'd finished my book JOBS FOR GIRLS WITH ARTISTIC FLAIR, and June 2022, when it was actually published by Viking Penguin. Some humble thoughts on finding an agent; persevering through rewrites; seeking traditional publication amidst responsibilities like working parenthood; and sustaining the most important thing—the satisfaction of writing itself—whether or not it brings conventional "success."

Saturday Session 2 11:00-12:00

Film Screening Exact Change (2017)

Written by Christine Howey

Moderator Laura Beadling

Sponsored by the Grace Ruth Memorial Endowed Professorship in English

A moving film about finding your voice and championing your identity, Exact Change is the powerful and personal story of noted Cleveland actor, journalist, and critic Christine Howey (formerly Dick Howey). Before transitioning in 1990, Ms. Howey was a celebrated stage actor in Cleveland, known for playing such heavy-hitting male roles as Lucifer, Goebbels, “Terrible Jim Fitch,” Richard Nixon, God and others. Exact Change is a one-woman tour-de force spiced with political rants, historical reflections, personal stories and an incisive wit that truly packs a punch.

Ohio's Girlhood Landscape: Exploring the Intersection of Place and Identity

Christen Noel Kauffman, Sara Moore Wagner, Sarah Ann Winn

Moderator Barbara Sabol

How much does landscape shape us? Are our identities as women tied to the land of our fathers? Poets Sara Moore Wagner, Christen Noel Kaufman, and Sarah Ann Winn will present their work rooted in Ohio, in the rust belt, the hills and the shadows, along with a discussion on how place-based writing uncovers truths about the way we construct gender and the self. This panel will also discuss the concept of “girlhood” as connected to place, demonstrating how to translate this to the page through readings, research, and explorations of their own craft and techniques.

The Objects That Reveal Who We Are

Jonie McIntire, Jim Ferris

Moderator Barbara Marie Minney

From Neruda's famous Odes to Common Things to Frost's fence to the horcruxes in Harry Potter, let's look at how objects can embody ideas and relationships in poetry. We'll discuss examples, how objects can carry political and sociological weight, and get into some generative writing.

Creative Reading

Janet Beard, Jennifer Militello, Rikki Santer
Moderator Rebecca Moon Ruark

Though she left the place where she grew up over half a lifetime, novelist Janet Beard keeps returning to the Southern Appalachia of her upbringing in her fiction. Beard reads from her latest novel The Ballad of Laurel Springs, and discusses how it is inspired by the places she is from.

Award-winning poet and memoirist Jennifer Militello reads from her newly published collection of poetry, The Pact, and her memoir, Knock Wood. Called "one of the finest poets of her generation" by Charles Simic, Militello's love poems confront obsession, intimacy, and abuse, while her memoir deals with the struggles of family and the passing of time.

Throughout her eleven published collections, Rikki Santer's poems often coalesce into the genre of nonfiction poetry and many in response to place. As a former journalist, she relishes incorporating research and a reportorial approach to evolve multi-faceted, poetic sequences, many of which have focused on place: two chapbooks Front Nine (the Hopewell earthworks of Newark, Ohio) , Kahiki Redux (the late Polynesian supper club of Columbus, Ohio), and most recently, Stopover (exploring the imaginary realm of place through the original five seasons of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone).

Writing Into and Out of Landscapes

Joee Goheen, Anastasios Mihalopolous

Moderator Robert Miltner

In this panel, we will discuss the way we write through and around our tethers to place. This presentation addresses the amorphous concept of home, how a landscape upholds its own identity as well as one for its inhabitants and the way we craft narrative about place. We will turn to several canonical works which posit the impact of place on our identity. Attendees will also engage in writing exercise about their own sense of place. Works discussed include Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Garret Hongo’s Volcano, Matthew Ferrence’s Appalachia North and Wendell Berry’s The Art of Loading Brush.

Evoking the Spirit: Place as Character in Fiction Writing

Karen Frank

Moderator Robert Miltner

Whether we use our first ground—the place of our birth—or a place we chose at some later time, the settings of our stories should be much more than backdrop or the passing reference to landmarks. Evoking a particular place is as important as characterization and structure. This presentation will include practical strategies for creating detailed and involved settings in fiction.

Saturday 12:00-1:00 

Catered Lunch Sponsored by the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services

​Saturday Session 3 1:15-2:15

Creative Reading

Jen Knox, Jonie McIntire, Sarah Ann Winn

Moderator Katie Urs

When Emerson was twelve, she was enamored by her grandmother Amelia and believed that what others saw as eccentricity or mental illness was instead a misunderstood gift. We Arrive Uninvited is Jen Knox's debut novel, the winner of the Steel Toe Books Award.

Jonie McIntire, Poet Laureate of Lucas County, Ohio, will read from Semidomesticated, Red Flag's 2020 chapbook contest winner (2nd edition from Sheila-na-gig).


Sarah Ann Winn reads from her first full length collection, Alma Almanac (Barrow Street, 2017), winner of the Barrow Street Book Prize. These poems invite the reader to the Portage Lakes in Akron, to a window into childhood, full of bass fishermen, lily pads, blue herons, and rippled with loss and memory. Contest judge Elaine Equi wrote "Alma Almanac is a stunningly original collection of poems about landscape, place, and memory. It is a lyrical scrapbook of skies, weather, stars, myths, recipes, rituals, and spells. [..] Come and listen for the sound of reservoir water lapping at the shores."

Publishing Law 101

Jacqueline Lipton

Moderator Samantha Casey

Can I quote song lyrics in my book? When can I incorporate other people’s photography and art in my own work? What if I want to write about a real person? Could I be sued for defamation? In this presentation, publishing attorney and literary agent Jacqui Lipton will cover the publishing law basics, surveying copyright, fair use, defamation, privacy and contract law (contracts with agents and publishing houses). Come along with your legal questions and concerns!

​Been There, Lit That

Mario J. Ricciardi

Moderator Janet Beard

This talk dives into what makes up our perception of “place” by taking a closer look at how lighting design in film elevates storytelling, by manipulating the mood and tone on screen, from feature films playing in the theater to the commercials on TV.

Characteristics of Appalachian Literature and Film

Larry Smith

Moderator Janet Beard

How Appalachia as place shapes an art. An in-depth examination of how a culture and its values are reflected in its art.


Make Your Mark(eting)

Lannie Stabile

Moderator Chris Gibowicz

This panel will detail steps I have taken to successfully get my book, Good Morning to Everyone Except Men Who Name Their Dogs Zeus, into multiple brick and mortar bookstores across the United States. The panel includes additional information on contacting libraries and general promotional tips and tricks.


NAG the Competition -Naming, Aiming, and Gaming - A Guide to Titles and Marketing

Dianne Borsenik

Moderator Chris Gibowicz


Do you often find yourself wanting to leave a poem untitled, or treat the title as an afterthought? Do you struggle when it comes to naming your poetry collection? This presentation is designed to assist the poet in mining the titular gems hiding within their own poems, and to present ways to be remembered at readings and signings.

Naming: Utilizing unusual, eye-catching, and memorable titles
Aiming: Identifying and maximizing your target audience
Gaming: How to find unique opportunities to market in a competitive world

NAG the Competition and empower yourself with the words you already use in your craft!


The Window or the Door: Transitioning from Writing Stories to Novels

Erin Flanagan
Moderator Rebecca Moon Ruark

In scope and structure, stories and novels are as different as night and day, yet too often writing programs focus solely on short works leaving writers overwhelmed when they start a longer project. I’ll discuss the stumbling blocks I encountered and provide tips to branch from one to the other such as focusing on scenes not sentences, reverse plotting a book, and how to train for a marathon when you’ve been running sprints.

Creative Reading
Candace Fleming

Moderator Meg Silver

Honeybees, Tigers and Bears, Oh My! -- Want to be the first readers to hear Candace Fleming's newest picture book?  Then stop by and settle in for a lively reading about some of our favorite living creatures!

Saturday Session 4 2:30-3:30

Creative Reading

William Heath, Lannie Stabile, Katerina Stoykova

Moderator Molly Fuller

William Heath's chapbook, Night Moves in Ohio (Finishing Line Press), and his full-length poetry book, Steel Valley Elegy (Kelsay Books), dramatize life in the Steel Valley during the 1950s and 1960s. Born in Youngstown, Heath grew up in nearby Poland when the steel mills were thriving and Cleveland and Youngstown mobs fought to control gambling in Youngstown. His poems capture in vivid detail various experiences as a young man and comment on larger issues. Heath believes that poetry is written in musical lines about things that matter, but it is the craft of the poem that determines why they matter.


Lannie Stabile reads from her poetry collection, Good Morning to Everyone Except Men Who Name Their Dogs Zeus. This book challenges Greek Mythology, sexual assault, and men obsessed with other powerful men.

Bulgarian-born poet, teacher and translator Katerina Stoykova will read her own poetry, as well as her translations of other Bulgarian poets. Katerina is the author of several poetry collections in Bulgarian and English, as well as the main translator, editor and publisher for The Season of Delicate Hunger: Anthology of Contemporary Bulgarian Poetry.

Excavating a Protagonist's Inner Wounds

Meredith Doench

Moderator Karen Frank

We will examine the types of inner wounds that may be festering in different characters. These wounds have the power to influence a protagonist's thoughts and behavior. Understanding how these manifest in a character's life is a strong tool of the writer's toolbox.

Women & Words: Stories that Connect

Mary Leoson

Moderator Samantha Casey

Mary Leoson: "I lead a women’s creative writing group in conjunction with the Women’s Center at Lakeland Community College, where I teach in their English and Psychology Departments. We explore fiction, poetry, art, lyric essays, and digital shorts honoring the 'sacred story' within each of us. The digital stories are a recent focus, with words that move, images that invite, and sounds that reflect the deepest parts of our experiences. We hope that these stories will foster empathy and compassion for the stories we discover about each other and those we have yet to uncover about our fellow human beings."

Persona's Not Just People

Heather Dobbins, Christian Anton Gerard

Moderator Sara Moore Wagner

Persona voices in poems are often talked about as "voices other than the poet's." While that's true to some degree, those voices are often characters both fictional and nonfictional that can't just speak as "voices other than the poet's" because just as every story needs a setting, every persona comes from a place. Using our own recent work alongside the work of others, we'll work to demonstrate the supreme importance of place (both temporal and physical) in the crafting of successful persona poems.


Centering Writing in our Community 

Cynthia Larsen, Amy Rosenbluth

Moderator Jeff Murphy

Sponsored by the Centofanti Foundation

Lake Erie Ink, a writing space for youth, will share their history as a "space" for youth to express themselves and a resource for centering writing throughout our NE Ohio community. Learn more about how Lake Erie Ink works within the greater Cleveland community to center writing and youth voices through creative expression workshops and programs.

Talking About Tough Topics

Candace Fleming

Moderator Anthony Manna


Touching upon controversial topics in the classroom is an inherent part of teaching.  It is also an inherent part of writing.  How can writers and teachers work together to find ways of introducing tough topics to students?  How can we manage classroom discussions so they are positive and useful and help meet instructional goals?  In this presentation,  author Candace Fleming will discuss the considerations and decisions she makes when writing difficult material, as well as provide tips and suggestions for using her books (and other challenging titles) in the classroom.

Saturday 3:45-4:45
Panel Discussion, “The Places That Make Us”
Moderator Rebecca Brown Asmo, Executive Director of Ohio Humanities
Sponsored by the Youngstown Foundation

Featured presenters Laura Beadling, Candace Fleming, Kelly Fordon, Karla Murthy & Joy Priest in conversation about the element of place in the literary arts.

5:00-7:00 Dinner & Bowling
The Westside Bowl | 2617 Mahoning Ave.

7:00 Screening of The Place That Makes Us & Panel (free and open to the public)

Discussion with panelists Bill Mullane, Karla Murthy, Alexandra Nikolchef, Nate Offerdahl, AJ Sumell
Moderator Justin Nigro, Ohio Arts Council Operations and Public Affairs Director

Youngstown Playhouse | 600 Playhouse Lane


With gratitude to our fiscal sponsors the Centofanti Foundation, WYSU, the Youngstown Foundation, Pamela Anderson & Al Bartholet, Sally & Larry Sears, Diane & Tim FitzPatrick, the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts, the Grace Ruth Memorial Endowed Professorship in English, the Center for Working-Class Studies, the R.J. Wean Foundation, the Purple Cat, Ohio Arts Council & Ohio Humanities.

Screening & Discusssion
Panel Disussion

2022 Presenters


Erica Anderson-Senter lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Find her first full length collection,
Midwestern Poet’s Incomplete Guide to Symbolism, through EastOver Press. Her work has appeared in Midwestern Gothic and Dialogist. Her chapbook was published by Dandelion Review. She holds an MFA through the Writing Seminars at Bennington College.

Christopher Barzak is the author of the Crawford Fantasy Award winning novel, One for Sorrow, made into the Sundance feature film Jamie Marks is Dead. His novel The Love We Share Without Knowing was a finalist for the Nebula Award and the James Tiptree Jr. Award, and Wonders of the Invisible World received the Stonewall Honor Award from the American Library Association. He is also the author of collections Birds and Birthdays and Before and Afterlives, which won Best Collection in the 2013 Shirley Jackson Awards. Christopher teaches fiction writing in the Northeast Ohio MFA program at Youngstown State University.


Janet Beard left Tennessee to study screenwriting at NYU and later earned an MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her novel The Atomic City Girls became a bestseller in 2018 and was followed by The Ballad of Laurel Springs in 2021. Janet lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio.


Mary Biddinger’s newest poetry collection is Department of Elegy (Black Lawrence Press, 2022). Her poems have recently been published in Bennington Review, Crazyhorse, Couplet Poetry, Pithead Chapel, and Thrush Poetry Journal, among others. Flash fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Always Crashing, DIAGRAM, Gone Lawn, On the Seawall, and West Trestle Review. She teaches at the University of Akron and in the NEOMFA program, and edits the Akron Series in Poetry for the University of Akron Press.

Ali Black is a writer from Cleveland, Ohio. She is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets University & College Poetry Prize for her poem “Kinsman.” Her work has appeared in The Atticus Review, jubilat, Literary Hub, The Offing and elsewhere. Her first book of poetry, If It Heals At All, was selected by Jaki Shelton Green for the New Voices series at Jacar Press and it was named a finalist for the 2021 Ohioana Book Award.


Dianne Borsenik is active in the Ohio poetry communities. Her collection Raga for What Comes Next was published in 2019 (Stubborn Mule Press); recent work appears in Slipstream and the anthology I Thought I Heard a Cardinal Sing: Ohio’s Appalachian Voices (Sheila-Na-Gig, 2022). Find her on Facebook and at


Marion Starling Boyer’s Ice Hours won the 2021 Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from Michigan State University Press. Boyer’s four other poetry collections include The Sea Was Never Far, The Clock of the Long Now, and Composing the Rain, winner of Grayson Books Poetry Chapbook competition.


Christina Consolino’s debut novel, Rewrite the Stars, was a finalist for the Ohio Writers’ Association Great Novel Contest 2020, and she is the co-author of Historic Photos of University of Michigan. She serves as senior editor of Literary Mama, freelance edits, and teaches writing classes. For more information, visit


Ashley Cowger is the author of two short story collections: On the Plus Side (Galileo Press) and Peter Never Came, which was awarded the Autumn House Press Fiction Prize. Their stories and essays have appeared in several literary journals. Learn more at


Mixby Dickon is a non-binary poet and self-identified anarchist from Akron, OH (pronouns they/them). They are a candidate in the NEOMFA and their work has appeared in The Rubbertop Review.


Michael Dittman lives and writes near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Jack Kerouac; A Biography, Masterpieces of the Beat Generation, and Small Brutal Incidents. He has been awarded the Hicks Prize for Poetry, a Pennsylvania Arts Council Special Stipend Grant Award, a Pennsylvania Artist in Education Grant, and others.


Heather Dobbins is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. She is the author of two poetry collections, In the Low Houses (2014) and River Mouth (2017), both from Kelsay Press. Her poems and poetry reviews have been published in Beloit Poetry Journal, The Pinch, The Rumpus, TriQuarterly Review, and Women’s Studies Quarterly, among others.


Meredith Doench is the author of the Luce Hansen thriller series and Whereabouts Unknown (2022). Her writing has also appeared in many literary journals. She is a board member of Mystery Writers of America, Midwest Chapter, and is a senior lecturer of creative writing, literature, and composition at the University of Dayton in Ohio. For more information about this author and to view book purchase information, visit


Melissa Dunlap is revising a novel set in San Francisco inspired by Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series. She is a 2021 graduate of Kent State’s MLIS program where she studied archives, special collections, and professional ethics.


Jim Ferris is author of Slouching Towards Guantanamo, Facts of Life, and The Hospital Poems. Past president of Society for Disability Studies and Disabled & D/deaf Writers Caucus, Ferris was Poet Laureate of Lucas County, Ohio 2015-2019. He holds the Ability Center Endowed Chair in Disability Studies at the University of Toledo.


Erin Flanagan is the Edgar-award winning author of the novels Blackout and Deer Season, as well as the collections It’s Not Going to Kill You, and Other Stories and The Usual Mistakes. She is an English professor at Wright State University. For more information, visit


Timothy Francisco is a professor of English at Youngstown State University, where he is also director of The Center for Working-Class Studies. A former newspaper and magazine journalist, he hosts a weekly public affairs program on WYSUFM, a podcast on working-class politics, and has moderated and facilitated community conversations for a number of civic organizations on topics from refugee resettlement, to gun violence, to food insecurity.


The author of Pottery Town Blues and She Who is Like a Mare, Karen Frank is a recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence grant. She publishes under the name Karen Kotrba.


Molly Fuller is the author of For Girls Forged by Lightning: Prose & Other Poems and Always a Body, as well as two chapbooks. Her work has appeared in Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence, New Poetry from the Midwest, 100 Word Story, Kestrel, and Pedestal Magazine.


Christian Anton Gerard’s books are Holdfast (C&R Press) and Wilmot Here, Collect for Stella (WordTech). He’s received Bread Loaf Writers' Conference scholarships and the Iron Horse Literary Review’s Discovered Voices Award. His work appears in The Rumpus, Post Road, The Adroit Journal, Tupelo Quarterly and others. He teaches at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith’s creative writing program.


June Gervais’s debut novel JOBS FOR GIRLS WITH ARTISTIC FLAIR (Pamela Dorman Books/ Viking Penguin) is a feminist, LGBTQ coming-of-age novel set in a 1980s tattoo shop. June earned her MFA from Bennington College and has worked in activism, ministry, and the arts. Website:; Instagram: @june.gervais.writer


Joee Goheen is a writer from West Virginia in her second year of the NEOMFA. She holds a BS in English and German from Marshall University.

Matthew Graham is the author of four collections of poetry and is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, Pushcart, the Indiana Arts Commission and the Vermont Studio Center. Graham is a Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Southern Indiana and is the current Indiana State Poet Laureate. He is married to the painter Katie Waters.


Jeff Gundy, Distinguished Poet in Residence at Bluffton University, has published eight books of poems and five of prose. A 2008 Fulbright lecturer at the University of Salzburg, he was named Ohio Poet of the Year in 2015 for Somewhere Near Defiance. Recent work appears in Terrain, Christian Century, Image, and elsewhere.


Amy Gustine’s collection, You Should Pity Us Instead, was a finalist for the 2017 Ohioana Book Award in Fiction. Her work has appeared in The Michigan Quarterly Review, The Kenyon Review, The Alaska Quarterly Review, and the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal. For more information, visit


William Heath has published two books of poetry, The Walking Man and Steel Valley Elegy; two chapbooks, Night Moves in Ohio and Leaving Seville; three novels: The Children Bob Moses Led, Devil Dancer, and Blacksnake's Path; a work of history, William Wells and the Struggle for the Old Northwest; and a collection of interviews, Conversations with Robert Stone.


Arlan Hess is the owner of City Books and directs the City Books Writer-in-Residence program. She hosts Shelf Life, a book show about Pittsburgh authors & topics and is a regular contributor to The Writer Shed, a podcast hosted by David W. Berner.

Christine Howey is a performance poet, stage actor and director, playwright, theatre critic and the former executive director of Literary Cleveland. She performed Exact Change, her one-person play about her transgender journey, at Cleveland Public Theatre, followed by runs at Playhouse Square in Cleveland and the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival. She then adapted the play into a film. 


Jeremy Jusek is Parma, Ohio’s poet laureate. He authored two collections, We Grow Tomatoes in Tiny Towns (2019) and The Less Traveled Street (2022). He hosts the Ohio Poetry Association's podcast Poetry Spotlight, runs the West Side Poetry Workshop, and founded the Flamingo Writers Guild. To learn more, visit


Christen Noel Kauffman is author of the lyric essay chapbook, Notes to a Mother God (Paper Nautilus Press, 2021). Her work can be found in A Harp in the Stars: An Anthology of Lyric Essays (University of Nebraska Press), Nimrod, Tupelo Quarterly, The Cincinnati Review, and DIAGRAM, among others.


Jen Knox is an educator and storyteller who teaches writing, leadership, and meditation. Her books include the short story collections The Glass City (Hollywood, CA: Winner, Prize Americana for Prose), and Dandelion Ghosts, a chapbook of flash fiction. Most recently, Jen was the 2021 winner of the Steel Toe Books Prize for Prose. Her first novel, We Arrive Uninvited, will be out in fall 2022. Jen's writing has been nominated for the Pen Faulkner, The Best of the Net, and a Pushcart. @jenknox2 @_jenknox_


Jacqueline Kunkel is the Web Manager at Butler County Community College and an Early Career Researcher. Her research focuses on the slasher film Final Girl and gender roles within horror. She holds a Master’s degree in Publishing from The George Washington University, and a Bachelor’s in Communications and English from Penn State University. She is currently working toward her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration and Leadership.



Becca J.R. Lachman works in the magical land of public libraries. Her 3rd collection of poems What I say to this house is a collaboration with German visual artist Astrid Kaemmerling on home-building and alternative creation myths. In 2013, she edited the anthology A Ritual to Read Together to mark the centennial of poet and conscientious objector William Stafford. Her work’s been recognized by the Ohio Arts Council and Pushcart, and can be found in places like Rattle, Connotation Press, Sweet: Lit, Consequence Magazine, and Image Journal.


Jan LaPerle’s new book of poetry, Maybe The Land Sings Back, was published in 2022 from Galileo Press. Her other books include It Would Be Quiet (Prime Mincer Press, 2013); an e-chap of flash fiction, Hush (Sundress Publications, 2012); a story in verse, A Pretty Place To Mourn (BlazeVOX, 2014). In 2014 she won an individual artist grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission. She lives in Kentucky with her husband and daughter where she serves as a master sergeant in the Army.


Cynthia Larsen is Lake Erie Ink’s co-founder and Education Director. Ms. Larsen has facilitated project-based creative writing in collaboration with teachers since 2003, combining her training and experience as a teacher with her passion for creative writing. She studied creative writing at Stanford (BA) and University of Arizona (MFA), earning her teaching credential at SFSU. @lakeerieink


Dade Lemanski writes about whiteness, Appalachia, Jewishness, antisemitism, and white supremacy through a trans(sexual)-historical lens. Their writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the Village Voice, and In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies, and Pittsburgh City Paper.


Mary Leoson is a Pushcart Nominee and Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association. Her writing has appeared in The Lost Librarian's Grave Anthology, Castabout's Halloween Anthology, Free Spirit Historic Tales Anthology (forthcoming), and Coffin Bell Journal. Leoson holds an MFA in Fiction, an MA in English, and an MS in Psychology.


Jacqui Lipton is a law professor, publishing attorney and the founder of Raven Quill Literary Agency. She is also the author of Law and Authors: A Legal Handbook for Writers (University of California Press, 2020) and a number of blog posts and magazine articles on the business and law of publishing. @Jacqui_Lipton


Professor of English at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 14 poetry collections—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation, Begin with a Question, ekphrastic collaborations Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For and In the Museum of My Daughter’s Mind—What She Was Saying (stories); 4 children’s/YA books; and Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania. @marjoriemaddox

Jonie McIntire, Poet Laureate of Lucas County, Ohio, has authored three chapbooks, including Semidomesticated which won Red Flag Poetry’s 2020 chapbook contest. She is poetry editor at Of Rust and Glass and Membership Chair at Ohio Poetry Association. She hosts the reading series Uncloistered Poetry in Toledo. Learn about her at


Susan McKenzie is an MFA candidate in the Northeast Ohio MFA (NEOMFA) program. Her work focuses on the female experience. She holds a BA in American Studies from Middlebury College (1987), a JD from Case Western Reserve University School of Law (1992), and an MA in English Literature from the Bread Loaf School of English (2021).


Jackie Mercer is a lecturer in the English and World Languages department at YSU. Previous to working at YSU, Jackie worked as a high school English teacher for 8 years. She is an avid young adult literature reader. Jackie is passionate about many issues in education, including advocacy for teachers.


Anastasios Mihalopoulos is a Greek/Italian American and is currently an MFA candidate in the Northeast Ohio MFA (NEOMFA) program. He holds a BS in both chemistry and English from Allegheny College. His work has appeared in Foothill Poetry Journal, Volney Road Review and Jenny Magazine.


Jennifer Militello is the author, most recently, of The Pact (Tupelo Press/Shearsman Books, 2021) and the memoir Knock Wood (Dzanc Books, 2019), winner of the Dzanc Nonfiction Award. She teaches in the MFA program at New England College.


Amanda Miller received a BA in English from Youngstown State University and an MFA from the NEOMFA. She is a member of the adjunct faculty at YSU and Westminster College, and is a Reference and Instruction Librarian at Eastern Gateway Community College.


Robert Miltner’s books of poetry include Hotel Utopia, Orpheus & Echo, and Against the Simple. His short fiction collection is And Your Bird Can Sing and his collection of creative nonfiction is Ohio Apertures. He was Visiting Scholar on Contemporary of American Poetry, March-April, 2022, University of Paris East, France.

C. Morris writes horror fiction, political poetry and the rare second-person memoir when provoked. Previous publications can be found in ADDitude Magazine, Miniskirt Magazine, Havik: Journal of Arts and Literature, The Antonym, and The Lucky Jefferson among others. 2023 Best of the Net award nominee for creative nonfiction, C. Morris studies fiction in the NEOMFA program at Cleveland State.

Dylan Morris (they/them) is a second year MFA candidate in the NEOMFA program.


Mary Ozbolt is a graduate from the NEOMFA program through The University of Akron. She teaches English Composition and is poetry editor for Rubbertop Review. She has been published in Ashbelt Literary Journal and The Bind, won the Sam Ella Dukes Memorial Poetry Prize in 2020 and 2021, and has forthcoming work in Wingless Dreamer.

Amanda Page is a Columbus-based writer from southern Ohio. Her work appears in Belt Magazine, The Daily Yonder, 100 Days in Appalachia, and Literary Hub. She is the editor of The Columbus Anthology from Belt Publishing and The Ohio State University Press, and founder of Scioto Literary, a nonprofit that supports writers and storytellers in Scioto and surrounding counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Page is co-director, with David Bernabo, of Peerless City, a documentary that examines the rise and decline of economic prosperity in Portsmouth, Ohio, through the lens of three distinct slogans publicized by the city. 


Mario Ricciardi is a commercial filmmaker, born and raised in Youngstown. An alumni of Youngstown State University, he is the owner of Appleridge Productions, a local film production company that produces work for Penguin City Beer, Mercy Health, and Phantoms Hockey, amongst many others. When he’s not bending the knee to corporate overlords (he really does love his clients and the work), he is shooting music videos and short films with friends.


Amber Ree Robinson is a recent graduate of Florida International University. In 2020, she contributed to her first published postsecondary academic paper titled "Improving Spanish-Language Teacher Retention and Success among Black Spanish-Language Learners: An HSI-HBCU Collaboration." Prospectively, Amber aspires to become a civil rights lawyer.


Amy Rosenbluth is co-founder and executive director of Lake Erie Ink. She has worked with youth since 1991. She received her BA in English from Hiram College and her teaching certification and graduate work from San Francisco State University. Her training in Bay Area Writers’ Project has given her a passion for and strategies in incorporating writing throughout the curriculum.


Barbara Sabol’s fourth collection, Imagine a Town, was published by Sheila-Na-Gig Editions in 2020. Her poems have most recently appeared in SWWIM, Evening Street Review, The Copperfield Review, Mezzo Cammin, and Modern Haiku. Her awards include an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council.


Rikki Santer’s poetry has received many honors including six Pushcart and three Ohioana and Ohio Poet book award nominations as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her eleventh poetry collection, Stopover, which is in conversation with the original Twilight Zone series was recently published by Luchador Press.  She is also a member of the teaching artist roster of the Ohio Arts Council, a vice president of the Ohio Poetry Association, and a member of the poetry troupe, Concrete Wink. Please contact her through her website:


Larry Smith is director of Bottom Dog Press and its Appalachian Writing Series of 20 books. He is professor Emeritus of Bowling Green State University and a creative writer. He is a filmmaker of JAMES WRIGHT'S OHIO and KENNETH PATCHEN: AN ART OF ENGAGEMENT.


Lannie Stabile (she/her), a queer Detroiter, is the winner of OutWrite’s 2020 Chapbook Competition in Poetry and a back-to-back semifinalist for the Button Poetry Chapbook Contest. Lannie was also named a 2020 Best of the Net finalist. Her debut poetry full-length, Good Morning to Everyone Except Men Who Name Their Dogs Zeus, was published in 2021 by Cephalopress. Her fiction debut, Something Dead in Everything, is out now with ELJ Editions. Find her on Twitter @LannieStabile.


Bulgarian-born poet, teacher and translator Katerina Stoykova will read her own poetry, as well as her translations of other Bulgarian poets. Katerina is the author of several poetry collections in Bulgarian and English, as well as the main translator, editor and publisher for The Season of Delicate Hunger: Anthology of Contemporary Bulgarian Poetry.


Sarah Valingo is a high school English teacher of 15 years, currently at Northeast Ohio IMPACT Academy, a STEM school in Campbell, Ohio. Books are her favorite teaching tools and integral to her sanity.


Alyssa Velazquez is a cultural historian specializing in the material culture of gender, performance, and women’s studies. She has published articles in AutoStraddle, GRLSQUASH, The Establishment, Women's History Magazine, The Fashion Studies Journal, and Votive Project.


Sara Moore Wagner is a 2022 Ohio Arts Council Poetry Awardee. She’s also the winner of the 2021 Cider Press Review Editors Prize for Swan Wife (2022), the 2020 Driftwood Press Manuscript Prize for Hillbilly Madonna (2022), and a 2021 National Poetry Series Finalist. Find her journal publications at


Barrett Warner is the author of Why Is It So Hard to Kill You? (Somondoco, 2016), and My Friend Ken Harvey (Publishing Genius, 2014). Poems and stories appear in Beloit Poetry, Phoebe, Salamander, Industrial Decay, Be About It Zine, The Adroit, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Baltimore Review. He is the editor of Free State Review.


Gabriel Welsch is the author of a collection of short stories, Groundscratchers, and four collections of poems, the latest of which is The Four Horsepersons of a Disappointing Apocalypse. He lives in Pittsburgh, and works as a vice president for marketing and communications at Duquesne University. @gabrielwelsch


Julia Wendell’s sixth collection of poems, The Art of Falling, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2022. Her poems have appeared widely in magazines such as Forklift Ohio, American Poetry Review, Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner, and Cimarron Review. She is Founding Editor of Galileo Press. She lives in Aiken, South Carolina, and is a three-day event rider.


Tara Stillions Whitehead is a multi-genre writer, filmmaker, and professor. She is the author of the hybrid chapbook Blood Histories (Galileo Press, 2021), and two collections: The Year of the Monster (Unsolicited Press, 2022), and They More Than Burned (ELJ Editions, 2023).

Christian Gilman Whitney is a former high school English teacher whose work has appeared in Gulf Stream Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Complete Sentence. He was born and raised in Western Massachusetts and received his MFA from Bennington College.


Sarah Ann Winn’s Alma Almanac (Barrow Street, 2017), won the Barrow Street Book Prize. She’s the author of five chapbooks, most recently, Ever After the End Matter (Porkbelly, 2019). Her writing has appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Massachusetts Review, and Nashville Review, among others. *Follow her @blueaisling on Twitter and Instagram, and visit her at to read about her classes and workshops.


“I've made so many connections with writers that started with Lit Youngstown's Lit Festival, in particular.”

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