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7th Annual
Fall Literary Festival
October 19-21, 2023 Live in
Youngstown, Oh!


Jill Christman,

Ross Gay 

Alison Stine

with Matt Weinkam

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

Image by Macau Photo Agency

October 19 Gathering In 
7:00 - 9:00 pm

Warm welcome, Fall Literary Festival attendees and presenters! Join us for a performance by the #notwhite collective, and the start of a great conference. Free and open to the public.

McDonough Museum of Art


October 20

Welcome! Pre-registered attendees only, please (we are unable to accommodate walk-in registrations this year).


Friday 8:30am-9:00am

Presenter book drop off, registration 

Friday 9:00am

Welcome & announcements, Director Karen Schubert 

Friday 9:00am-4:00pm

Bookfair open

Friday Session 1 9:15am-10:30am

Creative Reading

Matt Dettmer, Anne Garwig Lucas, Jason Irwin, Barbara Marie Minney, Nicole Robinson

Moderator Marjorie Maddox

Matthew Dettmer: From the perspective of an emergency medicine and critical care physician, this work utilizes some of the chaos inherent in fusing prose and poetry to depict the acute and lingering psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Anne Garwig Lucas's recent poems focus on invigorating the quotidian and everyday with spirit and meaning.

Jason Irwin will read from his most recent collection The History of Our Vagrancies as well as a new manuscript (in-progress), poems about disability, travel, aging and mortality.

Barbara Marie Minney will read from her award-winning collection, If There's No Heaven, as well as Poetic Memoir Chapbook Challenge, and a new chapbook.

Nicole Robinson will read from her debut collection of poems, Without a Field Guide, which explores trauma and its aftermath with an unsentimental yet joyful regard for the natural world. Ellen Bass writes, “Robinson explores trauma with a stunningly deft touch and enormous heart. She has a keen eye for the living world and speaks truth with complexity and compassion.”


Last Words: How to Find the Right Ending

Susan Petrone

Moderator B. Elizabeth Beck

Why do some endings leave the reader longing for more and other endings fall flat? We’ll look at some of the best (and worst) story and novel endings and examine how to write last words that linger with your readers.


The Craft of Community

Tess Barry, K.J. Bryant, Sheila L. Carter-Jones, Nicole Ravas, Jennifer Roth, Sarah Shotland, Rachel Walton

Moderator Sharon Stringer

Sponsored by WYSU-FM

This roundtable discusses how writing communities can empower women. Participants from Carlow University’s MFA in Creative Writing, Madwomen in the Attic, Words Without Walls, and SubVerses Collective will share their experiences building and participating in writing groups that celebrate women, and how these communities lead to personal and professional growth. 

Creative Reading

Sheila-Na-Gig Editions presents Bonnie, Jonie, Deni, Wendy and Jane Ann

Jane Ann Fuller, Hayley Haugen, Jonie McIntire, Wendy McVicker, Deni Naffziger, Bonnie Proudfoot, Sandra Rivers-Gill

Moderator Debbie Allen 

Five poets and the editor who published them, either online or in print through Sheila-Na-Gig editions, share their published and newer works and talk about how their circles overlap, from Athens County open mics to Ohio Poetry Association to Uncloistered Poetry. Where their lives overlap, beauty grows.

Verbal Alchemy: Visualizing Poetic Structure as a Formula

Jeremy Jusek

Moderator Rebe Huntman

Poetry is an emotionally-charged writing discipline that utilizes concrete building blocks to serve as structure. Craft techniques are nigh objective tools that exist to subsidize a subjective experience. This workshop offers participants new perspective by revisiting well-worn structural techniques through unique—yet approachable—visual representations, writing exercises, and science-inspired analysis.

Friday Session 2 10:45am-noon

Creative Reading

Joanna Eleftheriou, Jocelyn Heath, Clarissa Jakobsons, Sarah Ann Winn

Moderator Chris Barzak 

Memory gifts us with recollections of moments, places, and loved ones; it also curses us to relive what is no longer available to us. Even more complex is when our memory fails or shifts, and the sense we had of our world feels terrifyingly uncertain. Writers Joanna Eleftheriou, Jocelyn Heath, and Sarah Ann Winn will present their work on memory, loss, and family.


Joanna Eleftheriou will read from “Moonlight,” a lyric essay about anticipatory grief which uses a refrain to mirror the writer’s elliptical and gradual process of accepting the reality of imminent loss. She will discuss the differences between composing this essay about a living but terminally ill loved one, and writing her collection’s opening essay which dramatizes her father’s funeral and learning to live in and with his absence.


Jocelyn Heath will present poetry from her manuscript in progress, Late Season, which examines the deterioration of memory through her late grandmother’s struggle with dementia, revealing the depth of loss for both patient and family.


Sarah Ann Winn will read from her chapbooks, Haunting the Last House on Holland Island and Ever After the End Matter, both of which look sidelong at grief and loss, seeking echoes in the hidden passages and labyrinths of folklore and hybrid forms. 


Born in Germany during WWII, Clarissa Jakobsons is a poet, book artist, and painter whose visual and written art is inspired by her Lithuanian heritage and her family’s history. Her 2023 book, Baltic Amber in a Chest, is published by Bird Dog Press. Personal turmoil can spur creative vitality.


Creative Reading

Kim Chinquee, Sarah Freligh, Jen Knox, Nancy McCabe

Moderator B. Elizabeth Beck

Kim Chinquee will read selections from her work of short stories, prose poetry, flash fiction, her novels-in-flashes, and discuss her research and theories on the forms, to include historical references, influences, and literary trends.

Sarah Freligh: A Reading of Very Small Fiction. "Freligh is a singular stylist and queen of compression whose work takes up boundless space in our hearts." -- Sara Lippmann, author of JERKS and LECH

Jen Knox will read from her award-winning debut novel, We Arrive Uninvited. 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.

Nancy McCabe will read from her young adult novel Vaulting through Time. Sixteen-year-old gymnast Elizabeth Arlington doesn’t care that her mother is older than the other girls’ moms or that she doesn’t look anything like her parents. She has too much other stuff to worry about.


Lyric A to Z: Exploring Abecedarian Forms in Poetry and Creative Nonfiction

Sandra Beasley

Moderator Bonnie Proudfoot

In an “abecedarian,” consecutive lines, sentences, or paragraphs lead with consecutive letters of the alphabet. What are this form’s advantages and strategies? We’ll look at examples from Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Michael Torres, and more, including book-length “dictionaries” or “encyclopedias.” Participants will experiment designing their own abecedarian structures for poems and essays.


Domestic Fabulism: The Supernatural Home

Virginia Konchan, Jennifer Moore, Carolyn Oliver, Caryl Pagel

Moderator Molly Fuller

What happens when the familiar and the surreal collide? This panel explores how poets might interweave fabulist elements—including myth, magic, and dreams—with domestic and pastoral modes, complicating and enriching received notions of labor, landscape, gender, ritual, performance, and observation, resulting in transformative and singular realities.


The Life of the Story

Jelisa Dallas, Edward Karshner, Joline ScottRoller

Moderator Sujata Lakhe

Developing a Culture of Belonging through Storytelling

Jelisa Dallas

We all experience realities that remind us of our shared human condition–, mental, emotional, spiritual and physical.  Through storytelling, we can explore and uncover the value in making meaningful connections amidst our differences.  In this roundtable, we’ll discuss how releasing our stories empowers us to belong. 


Writer Interrupted: The Art of Writing While Parenting

Joline ScottRoller

Writing can often be pushed to the back burner when parenting and other obligations of life and work seem more urgent. There are habits that can help you move your creative work forward, even when time, energy and money seem impossible to find. Learn some of these techniques in this seminar and begin the process of making the time for your writing.


Spinning Yesterday’s Yarn into Tomorrow’s Story

Edward Karshner


This session focuses on the process of crafting an anecdote into a creative non-fiction piece relatable to a wider audience, making use of the larger storytelling tradition in Appalachia.


Friday Session 3 1:00pm-2:15pm


What If We Put Our Wildernesses Together?

Ross Gay in Conversation with Jennifer Sperry Steinorth

Moderator Chloe Martinez

Reimagining our classrooms, workshops, collaborations and creative practice with Ross Gay. In recent years the model for creative writing workshop has undergone considerable scrutiny, with some teachers, like Ross Gay, scrapping the “workshop” model altogether. In this conversation we’ll discuss alternative approaches to collaborative learning that centers grace, devotion and unbridled play in the wild flowering fields of artistic practice.


Living Color

Jonie McIntire, Rod Martinez

Moderator Dahlia Fisher


Building Your Lines With Color

Jonie McIntire

From Marge Piercy's "Colors Passing Through Us" to Ashanti Anderson's "Ode to Black Skin," we'll take a look at concepts and prisms of color in poetry. Through generative exercises, participants will collect a rainbow of ideas for using tint and hue to bring complexity, creativity and spark to their writing.


Author Diversity 2.0- Tackling the Taboo

Rod Martinez

Diversity in writing has become a hot topic, from whether a person of one race can factually portray someone of another, to dialect, "isms," cultures and sexual orientation. Rod Martinez flows through these subjects and more in a smooth, fun entertaining way while keeping us on task.


Creative Reading

Chris Barzak, Hannah Allman Kennedy, Mary Kay Zuravleff

Moderator Robert Miltner

Chris Barzak will read from his new collection of short stories, Monstrous Alterations.

Hannah Allman Kennedy will read from her debut novel And It All Came Tumbling Down,  published in 2021 from the Watershed Journal Literary Group.

Mary Kay Zuravleff: In an Appalachian coal mining town, Yelena is the first American born in her family. Before the children’s bedtime story, Ma asks “Russian ending or American ending?” This refrain haunts American Ending, a gritty, darkly humorous tale of immigration, a worldwide pandemic, and the fragility of citizenship—100 years ago.


The Eleventh Thing You Notice: Getting the Right Detail

Gabriel Welsch, Karen Weyant

Moderator Barbara Sabol

Stories and poems spring from vivid detail. Yet, it’s easy to fall into using familiar images that, although they’re realistic and perhaps even enticing, risk being clichéd. This generative workshop will explore ways to find distinct images that draw readers to new characters and places. Writers of all genres are welcome.

Narrative in Communities

Julie Centofanti, Christina Fisanick, Crystal Lin, Mollie Hartup

Moderator Barbara Marie Minney


Serving through Transcribing

Julie Centofanti, Mollie Hartup

Youngstown State Honors College students reimagined serving and building community together, virtually, through the creation of a transcribing club that has logged more than 3,500 hours in first three years. This session will provide discuss the act of transcribing and skills that students learn while transcribing.


Telling Stories Out of School: Digital Storytelling as a Tool for Appalachian Liberation

Christina Fisanick

For more than a decade, Christina Fisanick's college honors composition students have created digital stories featuring artifacts from historical societies from throughout northern Appalachia. Using post-colonial theories about place, space, and identity, her presentation demonstrates how their work and the work we do together subverts stereotypes about Appalachia and its people.

How to Harness the Power of Your Personal History

Ann Howley

Moderator Pamela Anderson

Personal life experience provides one of the most powerful tools to lend authenticity to writing. In this workshop, writers will perform hands on exercises to: "map" memory; brainstorm ideas; research family history to form characters and storylines; understand how to avoid potential legal pitfalls when writing fiction and nonfiction.


Friday Session 4 2:30pm-3:45pm

Creative Reading

I Thought I Heard a Cardinal Sing

Moderator: Kari Gunter Seymour

Ellen Austin-Li, B. Elizabeth Beck, John Burroughs, Jane Ann Fuller, Marjorie Maddox, Mitchell James, Jonie McIntire, Wendy McVicker, Barbara Marie Minney, Bonnie Proudfoot, Phoebe Reeves, Barbara Sabol, S. Renay Sanders, Sara Shearer, Rose M. Smith 

I Thought I Heard A Cardinal Sing: Ohio’s Appalachian Voices is a one-of-a-kind collection of poetry focused specifically on the unique cultural experiences of poets located in or connected to Ohio (Central) Appalachia—a population that over time has become invisible. Listeners will discover a musicality of language and verse, rich and fertile as the Ohio foothills themselves.


I'm a Lit Mag Editor: Ask Me Anything

Meagan Lucas

Moderator Rebecca Moon Ruark 

Meagan Lucas, award-winning author, and Editor-in-Chief of Reckon Review, will tell you how the sausage is made, and offer her perspective on how to get your short work published. Topics include: formatting, cover letters and bios, editor pet peeves, finding calls, rejections, fees, jargon, and ‘fit.’


Write from Your Scars, Not Your Wounds

Jen Knox

Moderator Rod Martinez

This workshop is about breaking creative blocks that can arrive when exploring tough subjects on the page. There will be a short reading, discussion, and two prompts (come prepared to write!). This will be a safe and brave space to capture stories you may have been avoiding. It will offer writers an opportunity to deepen the emotional resonance of any genre, discuss holistic ways to tap the emotional truth that fuels our best writing, and go home with new tools for exploring the work that we've been avoiding.


Look Who’s Talking: Finding Voice in Persona Poetry

Georgia A. Popoff

Moderator Molly Fuller

Persona poetry often provides surprising perspectives, expanding theme and point of view. Viewing the world through characters in settings other than our own, we’ll plant seeds for poems beyond our autobiographical voice, identifying characters  to develop, discussing the value of research, and how to insure language best represents the speaker.


Comic Writing

Nora Hickey, Lauren Olesh

Moderator Jeremy Jusek 


These Aren't Your Sunday Funnies: the Art of Poetry Comics

Nora Hickey

This panel will explore the burgeoning art form of poetry comics. Combining two flexible, evocative, and unique genres, poetry comics is neither an introspective comic like Sandman by Neil Gaiman, nor illustrated poetry. Instead the form takes parts of both worlds to create something wholly new. We will look at the history of poetry comics as well as some creators who practice the art today.


Comic Creation from Memories

Lauren Olesh

Beginning with a memory of a favorite place from childhood, comic creators are encouraged to use motion and dialogue to create a comic.

Writing After Life

Dom Fonce, Rebecca Kilroy, Sarah Ann Winn

Moderator Nicole Robinson


The Good, the Bad, the Dead, and the Living: Writing About Family

Dom Fonce

In this discussion, we will be exploring the unique risks, challenges, and rewards of writing about living and deceased family members. We will examine our personal writing about family members, as well as the writing of other contemporary poets and authors.

Writing the Unspoken: Literary Expressions of Death and Grief

Rebecca Kilroy

Thanatos Review is a pioneering literary venue for writing about death, dying and grief. In conjunction with the Death Positive movement, our goal is to destigmatize death as a natural human experience. This presentation will explore how to approach writing difficult topics, and consequential individual and community impacts.


Befriending the Ghost: Writing Haunted Poems

Sarah Ann Winn

This talk will focus on poems of haunted-ness and hauntings, places we can’t return to and the ones we can’t leave, items we’ll never get back and things that re-appear no matter how many times we try to get rid of them.

Friday 4:00

The Craig Paulenich Endowed Lecture on Literary Community

Growing Together: On Writing in Community

Matt Weinkam

Moderator Rebe Huntman

No one writes alone. Each of us creates within communities of geography, identity, and artistry that create us as we create them. What responsibility do we have as individual writers to help foster an equitable literary ecosystem? How can we experiment with new ways of connection and co-creation? How can we provide “authentic help” to one another, so that, in the words of Paulo Freire “all who are involved help each other mutually, growing together in the common effort to understand the reality which they seek to transform.”

Friday 7:00 St. John's Episcopal Church

Free and Open to the Public

Keynote Reading by Ross Gay

Moderator Sandra Beasley 

Interpretive Movement by Reverie Movement Collective

Evening Reading 1
Panel Disussion
Screening & Discusssion

October 21

Welcome! Pre-registered attendees only, please (we are unable to accommodate walk-in registrations this year).

Saturday 9:00am-9:10am

Welcome & announcements, Director Karen Schubert

Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm

Bookfair open


Saturday Session 1 9:15am-10:30am

Revision Reality for Novelists

Laura Maylene Walter

Moderator Rod Martinez

What does it really take to revise a novel in preparation for submission to agents or editors? This workshop offers an honest view of today’s publishing landscape while covering practical tips and best practices for the novel-revision process.


Everyday Objects: A Writing Workshop

Katie Hartsock, Anne Garwig Lucas

Moderator Nicole Ravas 

How do everyday objects ground writers in the symbolic? In this workshop, participants will free-write on familiar objects. We also invite writers with disabilities and caretakers to explore how the everyday objects of medical equipment, from prosthetic devices to insulin pumps, ground their work’s exploration of embodiment, musicality, and meaning.


Creative Reading

Amy M. Alvarez, Jason Kapcala, Renee Nicholson, Randi Ward

Moderator Rebecca Moon Ruark

Authors Renée K. Nicholson (nonfiction), Randi Ward (poetry), Amy M. Alvarez (poetry), and Jason Kapcala (fiction) will read from their creative work, set in the mountains and hollers of Appalachia and the hardscrabble steel towns of the rust belt. Audience Q&A to follow.


Sewing Clothes for a Mouse: A Short Course in Writing Micro

Sarah Freligh

Moderator Mike Dittman 

What do you get when you combine the compression and lyricism of poetry with the urgency of fiction? Micro prose! In this generative workshop, we’ll dive into some examples or the form to identify the aspects of craft particular to micro and use those to inspire our own little stories. You’ll leave class with drafts-in-progress and a list of markets for your finished work.



Bob Craven, Allison Pitinii Davis, Jodi Russell, Larry R. Smith, David Swerdlow

Moderator Phoebe Reeves


Tim Russell Tribute

Jodi Russell, Larry R. Smith


Tim Russell Tribute

Jodi Russell, Larry R. Smith, Marc Harshman (video)

This tribute will introduce Tim Russell’s life, work and voice, including a short video interview with Russell and an appraisal by Marc Harshman, then a reading of some of his finest work by his widow Jodi Russell and Larry Smith from In Plena Vita: In Full Life Collected Poems,

ed. Marc Harschman and Larry R. Smith (Bottom Dog Press).


Place, Labor, and Race in the Poetry of James Wright

Bob Craven, Allison Pitinii Davis, David Swerdlow

What happens when we read Wright as an Ohio Valley poet? A Midwestern poet? An Appalachian poet? What’s Wright’s relationship to Martins Ferry, Wheeling, and labor poetry? How does Wright’s understanding of race and ethnicity evolve in his poetry? Our panel will address these questions about Ohio’s Pulitizer Prize-winning poet.


Writing Place and Time

Marion Starling Boyer, James DeMonte, Molly Fuller, Robert Miltner, Barbara Sabol

Moderator Nicole Robinson 


Three Ways of Seeing Ohio:A Genre Reading

James DeMonte, Molly Fuller, Robert Miltner

A panel reading of poetry selections from Molly Fuller’s Always a Body, fiction excerpts from James De Monte’s Where Are Your People From, and nonfiction excerpts from Robert Miltner’s Ohio Apertures.


The Docu-lyric: Writing Poems about History

Barbara Sabol

Marion Starling Boyer

How can we write poems about historical events lyrically? In this session, contemporary poetry collections and the presenters’ own experiences will serve as examples of creating docu-lyric poetry. Resources for research, and strategies for creating historically themed poems that are both authentic and imaginative will be presented. 


Author Visits Class

Adam Blackman, Marjorie Maddox

Moderator Chris Gibowicz 


Poetry in Motion: A Children’s Author Models School Visits for K-8 Students (and Their Teachers)

Marjorie Maddox

Marjorie Maddox models how to use fun poetic techniques—powerful verbs, figurative language, onomatopoeia, rhyme—to get students moving and writing about animals, sports, adventure, and other don’t-sit-still subjects. A visiting poet at over 30 primary and secondary schools, she is the author of 20 books, including four for children.


The Inspirational Power of Author Visits

Adam Blackman

Nothing helps a text jump off the page like one of its creators, in the flesh, in your classroom. In this workshop, we will talk about how guest authors, illustrators, and publishers can enrich your literacy and ELA curriculum and inspire engagement with reading and writing. We will discuss the challenges you face in your school, from funding to accessibility, and identify opportunities for overcoming these.

Saturday Session 2 10:45am-noon

Publishing Creative Nonfiction

Jill Christman

Moderator Nicole Robinson  

Creative nonfiction writer, educator and River Teeth editor Jill Christman shares insights and answers your questions on publishing in this distinct genre.


What's for Supper: How Food Shapes our Identity

Bonnie Proudfoot

Moderator Jessica Manack

This generative workshop explores food as a backdrop through genres of writing.  Food is sensual, tied to culture, a source of tension or joy; a way to explore a deeper level of transaction. Selections include fiction, poetry, and memoir, as well as prompts to explore how food shapes our identity.


Creative Reading

Darren C. Demaree, Katie Hartsock, John Hoppenthaler

Moderator Robert Miltner

Darren C. Demaree will read from his 19th full-length collection neverwell (Harbor Editions, 2023).

Hartsock's second poetry collection, Wolf Trees (2023) combines imagery of changing ecosystems with personal experiences, such as motherhood and living with Type 1 diabetes. During her reading, she will discuss how her work situates the natural world within disability poetics, and how her hometown Youngstown has shaped her poetry.

Of Hoppenthaler’s latest book, Night Wing over Metropolitan Area, Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash writes, "Hoppenthaler’s attention to the specifics of nature—hummingbirds, Japanese maples, snowfall—are like embroidery, stitched through and holding together the sharp memories and images of loss, longing, regret, and hope. These poems nurtured me."


Writing Climate Fiction as the World Burns

Alison Stine

Moderator Rebecca Moon Ruark

This session focuses on the urgency of cli-fi as we deal with the worsening impacts of climate change, and how not to be discouraged with writing about the environment and nature.


Flexing Form – Finding a Shape for the Story You Need to Tell

Saida Agostini, Sandra Beasley, Sarah Freligh, Ellen Kombiyil

Moderator Juan Rojas


Authors accomplished in poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction discuss how the narratives they wanted to share—personal, cultural, historical—required adapting conventions of “storytelling” they were first taught. Brief illustrating readings from their own work will anchor discussion. Takeaways for the audience will include practical tips, with time for Q&A.


Language Arts Enrichment in the Classroom

Nikki Ericksen, Erin Hill, Jessica Jones, Bob King, Kellie Kordinak, Jacob Martzaklis, Susan Nason, Aimee Noel, Lucy Perry

Moderator Jocelyn Heath

Start the Presses: Creating Student-Led Literary Journals

Erin Hill, Aimee Noel


This session, led by two writers/educators, covers the practical logistics of starting a campus literary journal from funding, fielding an editorial team, and submission management to design, distribution, and its benefits -- not just for the students and the school, but for your professional and creative life as well.


YSU English Festival: Keep the Tradition Growing

Nikki Ericksen

The English Festival is a 45-year-old program that has  hosting over 125,000 high school and middle school students and hundreds of sessions with highly accomplished middle grade and young adult authors.


Beyond the Classroom: How to Creative a Writing Club with Your Students

Jessica Jones, Bob King, Kellie Kordinak, Jacob Martzaklis, Susan Nason, Lucy Perry

Community building and a climate of inclusion are crucial to college campuses, but MFA programs don’t always encourage this, and at undergraduate level it can be hard to garner support for student creativity.  This workshop offers a template of the highly successful Creative Writing Club at Kent State Stark and invites participants into conversation with its faculty advisors and student officers. 

Language Arts Pedagogy

Maria Pappas, Shaunda Yancey

Moderator John Sorvillo


Access to Complex Text: A Game Changer for Equity in All Classrooms

Maria Pappas

This session focuses on the work of Natalie Wexler in The Knowledge Gap and the importance of providing all learners with background knowledge around content as an implementation ramp into complex text and rigor in all classrooms. Participants will learn about the Simple View of Reading and other research under the umbrella of The Science of Reading cited in Ohio's Plan to Raise Literacy Achievement.


Releasing the Code! The Science of Reading and Why It Works

Shaunda Yancey

Elevate your school's literacy best practices with a workshop style presentation, focused on the Science of Reading. Evidence-based approaches to reading instruction will empower educators with the latest research and techniques to improve student outcomes. Invest in the future by understanding the importance of giving our kids the code. ​


Saturday Session 3 1:00pm-2:00pm



Ohio-born writers Ross Gay & Alison Stine in conversation with Ohio Center for the Book's Laura Maylene Walter.

Moderator Katie Hartsock


Multimodal Writing in the Era of Generative AI

David Lucas

Moderator Nicole Ravas  

This session will explore how generative AI is changing writing instruction, and discuss ways in which teachers can incorporate multimodal writing assignments that acknowledge the presence of generative AI, and how to work within the parameters of this technology while still giving students meaningful skills and opportunities for original written expression.

Saturday Session 4 2:15pm-3:30pm

Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Getting Your Short Story Collection Ready to Publish

Liz Breazeale

Moderator Jennifer Roth 

How do short story collections get published? It’s the Writing Fairy, right? We all wish! In this session, we’ll cover the basics of revising and preparing a short story collection manuscript for submission and, eventually, publication—both in practical and artistic terms.


Inheritance, Practice & the Mystical Document of Poetry

Ananda Lima, Chloe Martinez, Glenis Redmond, Jennifer Sperry Steinorth

Moderator Kim Jacobs-Beck

Where do we come from; where are we going? These poets will discuss what Mary Oliver refers to as the "mystical document" of poetry, its promise of knowledge and communion, and writing as a method of claiming our many inheritances (ancestral, ecological, literary, racial, gendered and more).


Poetry of Witness

Subhaga Crystal Bacon, Jessica Cuello, Stacy Gnall, Jennifer Martelli

Moderator Ellen Kombiyil

Subhaga Crystal Bacon and Jennifer Martelli read from and discuss their work on “project collections,” books that had their genesis in chronicling and reckoning with attacks on the feminine in the current socio-political climate. They’ll read from their own work and discuss how they used non-literary sources to craft a poetry of witness.


Jessuca Cuello reads from Yours Creature, composed of epistolary poems in the voice of Mary Shelley. Often written as missives to her famous literary mother, Wollstonecraft, the poems address months, years, and her own monstrous creation as they contend with exile, transience, and desire.


Stacy Gnall reads new poems from her third book project, The Danger Constellation, which combines poetry with moments of lyric essay to interrogate the cultural and philosophical history of women’s costume. These poems think through clothing’s gendered relationships to notions of vanity and shame, conformity and rebellion, decoration and escape.

Creative Nonfiction Workshop

Jill Christman

Seeing Beyond the I: Using Multiple Points of View in Creative Nonfiction

Moderator Rebe Huntman

In this creative nonfiction workshop, we’ll think about the relationship between point of view and time, point of view and the scope of our vision, point of view and emotional resonance. What does it do for our writing when we find ways to step outside of ourselves to look beyond, back, or down, for example? Either for the length of a few sentences or an entire essay? First-person singular, that endlessly flexible and oft-maligned “I,” is an excellent and sturdy place to stand. We’ve all earned our right to our “I”s—and we need to remember “I” is not the only option in the writing of personal nonfiction. Why should the fiction writers and poets have all the fun? Also, if we are showing up to try to say a true thing, the truest thing, we need to think about the way in which truth shifts depending on our point of view. In creative nonfiction, after all, the point of view might be the whole point.

Literary Representations

Pamela Anderson, Marjorie Maddox, Sylvia Moran, Stacy Joy Quiñones, Judith Sornberger

Moderator Susan McKenzie 

Crafting a Poetic Utopia: Queer Theory & Poetry Writing

Sylvia Moran

Embracing the radical queerness suggested by José Esteban Muñoz’s Cruising Utopia, this session explores what utopian queer poetics could be. What art arises when freeing ourselves of “straight time?” What can we learn writing towards utopia?


A Woman Scorned

Stacy Joy Quiñones

Revenge: it's a theme found in books, films, and myths throughout history. However, when women are featured in these stories, they're often subjected to stereotypes. This session examines movies and media centering on the theme of revenge and how we, as storytellers, can help shift from stereotype to empowerment.


Meeting Inspiration Head On: Muses, Museums, Meditation

Pamela Anderson, Marjorie Maddox, Judith Sornberger

In this themed reading, poets Pamela Anderson, Marjorie Maddox, and Judith Sornberger will discuss how immersion in art, nature, and/or meditative practices can become catalysts for poetic inspiration. Exploring contemplation/creation intersections, authors will read from their books and engage the audience in discussing what stimulates writing and nourishes linked poems.


Conor Bracken, Paula J. Lambert, Juan Rojas 

Moderator Nicole Robinson


Translation as a Re-Vision Process

Paula J. Lambert, Juan Rojas

This session will explore how translation can be a process of ‘re-visioning” a manuscript. What challenges does translation present? What opportunities? How might individual poems change through the process? Rojas and Lambert discuss their process and their discoveries in re-visioning work written in Spanish and translated to English.


Translating Poetry, from the Translator's Perspective

Conor Bracken

Why translate? Many cite benevolent reasons, like empathy and cultural competency, but it’s also a personally rewarding practice. In this panel, a poet/translator will talk about how translating others has influenced his poetry and helps remind him that “a writer is always a stranger in the language they write in.”


Window and Mirror: Writing in the Classroom

Jessica Jones, John Sorvillo

Moderator Lindsay Sinkovich 


Travel Writing for the High School Classroom

Jessica Jones

In a world rife with division, xenophobia and cancel culture, it can be hard to find tertiary realms for opening up student curiosity. Travel writing, by its very nature, provides a way to write with curiosity, to embrace the world with fresh eyes and to grow friendly with complexities.


Therapeutic Writing

John Sorvillo

Writing can be therapeutic. Sometimes it's easier to express our true feelings on paper than in person. When guided appropriately, writing can give anyone the freedom to let go and truly express themselves.

Saturday Session 5   3:45pm-5:00pm

The Art of Fiction

Kristy Boyce, Pamela Gay, Debbie Rigaud, Brieanna Wilkoff

Moderator Rebecca Kilroy


A Novel That's Also a 'Novel' Way of Writing

Pamela Gay

This braided narrative links together a couple wanting "be" all they can be" and the trauma that took them over. I will read excerpts, then talk about the inclusion of some poems, flash fiction, journal-like entries, and some riveting memory slides.


Write What You Know (And You Know More Than You Think)

Kristy Boyce, Debbie Rigaud, Brieanna Wilkoff

Writers are often told to “write what you know.” But what, exactly, does this mean? These YA authors will share their experiences infusing what they know—beyond plot points—into their work. Learn how to tap into your emotions, relationships, and culture to write believable, relatable stories and characters.


Appalachian Storytelling

Edward Karshner, Meagan Lucas, Sarah Rose, Natalie Sypolt

Moderator Amanda Page

Appalachia has a long tradition of storytelling, in this presentation, storytellers from all over Appalachia (from Urban Youngstown and Pittsburgh, to the hills of SE Ohio, to the apple country of the Southern Blue Ridge) will share their honest and sometimes gritty tales, pulled from soil, and memory, and soul.


Ross Gay

Moderator Jonie McIntire 


The Healing Impact of Writing

Ryan McCarthy, Deni Naffziger, Renee Nicholson

Moderator Jimmy Sutman

Sponsored by Purple Cat

Collaborative Writing with Adults with Disabilities

Deni Naffziger

Any writer can begin a writing program in a sheltered workshop setting, either as part of a service-learning course or independently.  This type of writing service provides tangible and rewarding benefits for all involved by introducing new writing processes for established and emerging writers and highlighting stories from a population rarely represented.


Healthcare is Human: Narrative Medicine in the Mountain State

Ryan McCarthy, Renee Nicholson

Beautiful, complex stories abound in healthcare; as Dr. Rita Charon writes, "The care of the sick unfolds in stories." At West Virginia University, the Healthcare is Human initiative promotes the work of narrative medicine and health humanities in West Virginia through a unique partnership between WVU Medicine and WVU Humanities Center

Engaging Youth

Tina Banks, B. Elizabeth Beck, Nikki Ericksen, Jackie Mercer

Moderator Amanda Hoover

The Great Book Match-Up

Tina Banks

Tina Banks has found that a good way to engage reluctant readers is to give them choice and to match them with books in which they are interested.

How to Engage Youth in the Literary World

B. Elizabeth Beck

Public school teacher specializing in engaging inner-city, at-risk youth, Beck is the founder of Teen Howl and created Leestown OUTLOUD and The Tracks Literary Magazine in Cincinnati Public Schools.

Build Your Stacks

Nikki Ericksen, Jackie Mercer

We propose a “book talk” session on building stacks based off of other books that are of interest; using, for instance, the 2024 English Festival books, or updating a list of classics with modern books and making “stacks” in the same vein and genre as the original book, like a real life Goodreads.


7:00 Penguin City Ballroom, free and open to the public

Reading by Jill Christman & Alison Stine

Q&A by Jen Knox

End the conference on a high note, as Jill Christman reads from her newest memoir If This Were Fiction: A Love Story in Essays and Alison Stine reads from her newest novel Trashlands.  Ohio novelist Jen Knox leads a Q&A. 

We'll follow the reading with a dance party, music provided by DJ John Dyer.


2023 Presenters


Saida Agostini is a queer Afro-Guyanese poet whose work explores the ways that Black folks harness mythology to enter the fantastic. Her debut, let the dead in, was a finalist for the Center of African American Poetry & Poetics' 2020 Book Prize; other publications include the Black Ladies Brunch Collective anthology, Not Without Our Laughter, and STUNT, a chapbook. She is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow.


Amy M. Alvarez is an Affrilachian Poet. Her first book, tentatively titled Makeshift Altar, will be released by University Press of Kentucky in 2024. She is co-editor of Essential Voices: A COVID-19 Anthology (WVU Press, 2023). Amy lives and teaches in West Virginia. For more information, visit


Pam Anderson is the author of three poetry chapbooks, including Just the Girls (Poetry Box Press) and Widow Maker (Finishing Line Press), a chronicle of her husband’s cardiac arrests/recovery. Her poetic inspirations often come from practicing yoga or hiking. She has never owned a red swimsuit.

Ellen Austin-Li’s poetry appeared in Artemis, The Maine Review, Rust+Moth, Salamander, SWWIM, & elsewhere. Finishing Line Press published her chapbooks, Firefly & Lockdown: Scenes From Early in the Pandemic. She’s a Best of the Net nominee. Ellen earned an MFA in Poetry from the Solstice Low-Residency Program. She lives in Cincinnati.  


Subhaga Crystal Bacon is a Queer poet living in rural Washington. She is the author of four collections of poetry including Surrender of Water in Hidden Places, forthcoming, and Transitory, recipient of the Isabella Gardner Award for Poetry, forthcoming from BOA Editions.


Tina Banks has been teaching in the Youngstown City School district for 20 years. She is passionate about reading and writing education and uses YA literature as a way to motivate reluctant readers. She is a graduate of Ursuline High School and lives in Youngstown with her dog, Carson.


Tess Barry was shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize, twice a finalist for North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize and Aesthetica’s Poetry Award, and shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize. Her work has been widely published. A longtime Madwomen member, Barry directs Carlow University’s MFA in Creative Writing Program.

Christopher Barzak is the author of four novels and two short story collections. His books have received the Stonewall Honor Award from the American Library Association, the Shirley Jackson Award, the Crawford Award, the Whippoorwill Award, and have been placed on the Human Rights Campaign list of books for LGBTQ welcoming school libraries. He grew up in rural Ohio.


Sandra Beasley is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Made to Explode, as well as Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, a disability memoir. She also edited Vinegar and Char: Verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance. She teaches with the University of Nebraska Omaha’s low-residency MFA program. She lives in Washington, D.C.


B. Elizabeth Beck is the author of seven titles. Specializing in engaging inner-city, at-risk youth, she is the founder of Teen Howl and created Leestown OUTLOUD and The Tracks Literary Magazine in Cincinnati Public Schools. Her debut collection of short stories about women and their relationships to music will be released by Accents Publishing in 2024.


Adam Blackman, based in Brooklyn, New York, has taught writing workshops and civic engagement classes in elementary and middle schools and presented in schools and writer's conferences about writing, editing, and the publication process. He runs a community center with a middle school after school program, ran a nonprofit bookstore, and is an agented writer with an MFA in fiction.

Kristy Boyce lives in Pickerington, OH and teaches psychology as a senior lecturer at The Ohio State University. When she’s not spending time with her husband and son, she’s using her travel experiences and academic background to write young adult novels about self-discovery, friendship, and love.


Marion Starling Boyer’s collection, Ice Hours, won the Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize and was released in January 2023 by Michigan State University Press. A professor emeritus for Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Boyer currently conducts workshops for Lit Cleveland and lives in Twinsburg, Ohio. For more link to

Conor Bracken is a poet and translator. He is the author of Henry Kissinger, Mon Amour (Bull City Press, 2017) and The Enemy of My Enemy is Me (Diode Editions, 2021), as well as the translator of Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine's Scorpionic Sun (CSU Poetry Center, 2019) and Jean D'Amérique's No Way in the Skin Without This Bloody Embrace (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2022). He teaches at the Cleveland Institute of Art.


Liz Breazeale is an NEA 2020 Creative Writing Fellow and won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize for her first story collection, Extinction Events. Her work has appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Best Small Fictions, Best of the Net, Joyland, Columbia Review, and many others.

K.J. Bryant is a recent graduate of Carlow University MFA in Creative Writing Program. She has been published in Pittsburgh Magazine, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Table Magazine, and others. As Bryant searches for a publisher for her debut novel Reclaiming Grace, she supports Carlow’s MFA community with her marketing skills.


John Burroughs: I was born on the banks of the Cherry River in Richwood, West Virginia, in 1966. When I was a toddler, we moved to Ohio where Dad took a job at the Lorain Ford plant and I grew up Southern Baptist in Elyria before embarking on my own journeys. But my family visited our hometown several times a year and much of my heart has remained there.


Sheila L. Carter-Jones is the author of Three Birds Deep, the 2012 winner of the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Book Award judged by Elizabeth Alexander. Her next volume of poetry is forthcoming from BOA Editions. She is a fellow of Cave Canem, Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop and a Walter Dakin Fellow of the 2015 Sewanee Writer’s Conference. Sheila holds an MFA from Carlow University and facilitates writing workshops in the Madwoman in the Attic Program.

Julie Centofanti is a junior biology major in the BaccMed pre-medical program at the Youngstown State University Sokolov Honors College. Julie founded the Transcribing Club as a method for students to volunteer and build community during the pandemic and co-authored a publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal detailing the Transcribing Club.

Kim Chinquee has published flash fiction in NOON, CONJUNCTIONS, THE NATION, DENVER QUARTERLY, STORY; and eight books including debut novel PIPETTE. She's received three Pushcart Prizes and a Henfield Prize; is editor of NEW WORLD WRITING QUARTERLY, MIDWEST REVIEW, and ELM LEAVES JOURNAL (ELJ), and co-directs SUNY-Buffalo State University's writing major. She is a triathlete and lives with three dogs in Tonawanda, NY.


Bob Craven is a writer, musician, and scholar from rural Western Pennsylvania. Studying English literature, he earned his M.A. at Duquesne University (2015) and his Ph.D. at the University of Oregon (Eugene, 2022). He serves as Assistant Professor of English at Westminster College (New Wilmington, PA).

Jessica Cuello’s most recent book is Yours, Creature (JackLeg Press). Her book Liar, selected by Dorianne Laux for The 2020 Barrow Street Book Prize. Cuello has been awarded The 2022 Nina Riggs Poetry Prize, two CNY Book Awards, The 2016 Washington Prize, The New Letters Poetry Prize, a Saltonstall Fellowship, and The New Ohio Review Poetry Prize. She is poetry editor at Tahoma Literary Review and teaches French in Central NY.


Jelisa Dallas, M.S. Ed. is an author, educator and empowerment coach.  With over 12 years of experience in education, Jelisa is a sought after contributor on topics related to authorship, emotional intelligence, belonging and personal development.


Allison Pitinii Davis, PhD, is the author of Line Study of a Motel Clerk (Baobab Press, 2017), a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and the Ohioana Book Award. She is a visiting assistant professor of English at Bethany College.

James De Monte is the author of Where Are Your People From? (Cornerstone, 2023) and teaches English at Lakeland Community College. He graduated from the NEOMFA and holds a PhD from the University of Toledo. Along with his wife and sons, he lives a short walk from the Cuyahoga River.


Darren C. Demaree is the author of eighteen poetry collections, most recently “the luxury”, (January 2023, forthcoming from Glass Lyre).  He is the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, the Louise Bogan Award from Trio House Press, and the Nancy Dew Taylor Award from Emrys Journal.


Matt Dettmer is a writer, musician, and physician currently practicing in Cleveland, OH.  He is also a creative writing student in the Northeast Ohio MFA program with a focus in poetry.  His work has previously been published in The Harpy Hybrid Review, Olney, and Bacopa Literary Review.

Joanna Eleftheriou is the author of This Way Back (West Virginia University Press, 2020). She has published essays and poems in Arts & Letters, CutBank, Bellingham Review, and Sweeter Voices Still: An LGBTQ Anthology from Middle America. A contributing editor at Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, she teaches at Christopher Newport University and the Writing Workshops in Greece. Find her at

Nikki Ericksen is a part time English instructor at Youngstown State University, Eastern Gateway Community College, and Southern New Hampshire University, and is a coordinator for the YSU English Festival. Nikki has an MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults and an MA in English literature, both have focused on neurodivergence representation in literature.

Dr. Christina Fisanick is professor of English at PennWest California. With Robert Stakeley of the Heinz History Center, Dr. Fisanick co-authored Digital Storytelling as Public History: A Guidebook for Educators (Routledge 2020). She is author or editor of more than thirty and books and nearly 100 articles, essays, and creative works. Dr. Fisanick is president of Writers Association of Northern Appalachia (WANA) and co-chair of Northern Appalachian Network.


Dom Fonce is the author of the two chapbooks Here, We Bury the Hearts and Dancing in the Cobwebs. He is an MFA candidate at the NEOMFA. His poetry has been published in Gordon Square Review, Rappahannock Review, Delmarva Review, Jenny Magazine, Obra/Artifact, and elsewhere. He lives and writes in Youngstown, Ohio.

Sarah Freligh is the author of five books, including Sad Math, winner of the 2014 Moon City Press Poetry Prize, and A Brief Natural History of Women, published in 2023 by Harbor Editions. Among her awards are poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Saltonstall Foundation.


Jane Ann Fuller's work appears or is forthcoming in On The Seawall, Verse Daily, Shenandoah, Ekphrastic Review, Blue Earth Review, Calyx, and elsewhere. Fuller's Half-Life (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2021) was a finalist for the National Indie Excellence Awards, and she is a recipient of the James Boatwright III Poetry Prize.

Molly Fuller is the author of For Girls Forged by Lightning and Always a Body. She recently won the Gris-Gris Literary Journal Summer Poetry Contest. Her work has appeared in Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence, New Poetry from the Midwest, 100 Word Story, and Bellingham Review.

Pamela Gay's writing has been published in many journals including Iowa Review, Brevity, & Midway Journal and her memoir I'm So Glad You're Here (2020) won several awards. She is professor emerita at Binghamton University, State University of New York, where she taught courses in flash fiction and flash memoir.

Stacy Gnall is author of poetry collections DOGGED (winner, 2021 Juniper Prize for Poetry from University of Massachusetts Press) and HEART FIRST INTO THE FOREST (Alice James Books, 2011). Gnall holds a PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Southern California and is a graduate of the University of Alabama’s MFA in Creative Writing and Sarah Lawrence College. From Cleveland, she is Poet-in-Residence at University of Detroit Mercy.


Kari Gunter-Seymour: I am a ninth generation Appalachian. My people, Welsh, Irish, Dutch, have lived, prayed and died within Appalachia’s borders, worked the land, the mines, served their country, a few going off to the factories, never giving up—from Virginia to North Carolina, down into South Carolina, up and across to Tennessee and finally southeastern Ohio. It’s their voices I hear as I write.


Katie Hartsock is the author of Wolf Trees (2023) and Bed of Impatiens (2016), both from Able Muse Press. Her poetry appears in journals such as Kenyon Review, Ecotone, Poetry, The Threepenny Review, 32 Poems, Pleiades, and RHINO. She is an associate professor of English at Oakland University in Michigan.

Mollie Hartup serves as director of Youngstown State University’s Sokolov Honors College. She teaches honors seminars, including Magazine Editing and Production, which provides students opportunities to publish their work in the award-winning With Honors magazine. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Telecommunication Studies and Geography and an MBA from YSU.

Hayley Mitchell Haugen is a Professor of English at Ohio University Southern. Her latest chapbook, The Blue Wife Poems, is from Kelsay Books (2022). She edits Sheila-Na-Gig online and Sheila-Na-Gig Editions.

Jocelyn Heath is an Associate Professor in English at Norfolk State University. Her debut poetry collection, In the Cosmic Fugue, came out in November 2022. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Crab Orchard Review, Poet Lore, Sinister Wisdom, Fourth River, and elsewhere. She is an Assistant Editor for Smartish Pace. Find her at

Nora Hickey lives in Springfield, Ohio. She writes about comics and poetry comics on her substack "Autobiographix." Her poetry, nonfiction, and reviews appear in Guernica, Diagram, the Rumpus, and elsewhere.

Erin Hill is a writer, educator, and director of Champion City Write Now at Wittenberg University. A resident of Yellow Springs, Ohio, she also serves on the Little Art Theater board, is a first reader for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and definitely wants your recommendations for good local tacos.


John Hoppenthaler’s books of poetry are Domestic Garden, Anticipate the Coming Reservoir, Lives of Water, and Night Wing over Metropolitan Area, all with Carnegie Mellon UP. His poetry, essays, and interviews have appeared in Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, New York Magazine, Southern Review, Poetry Northwest, Southern Humanities Review, etc.

Ann K. Howley is an award-winning writer for Pittsburgh Parent Magazine. Her debut novel, The Memory of Cotton, was a finalist in the Family Saga category of the 2022 American Fiction Awards and her memoir, Confessions of a Do-Gooder Gone Bad, won a TAZ Award in 2014.

Jason Irwin is the author of the three full-length poetry collections, most recently The History of Our Vagrancies (Main Street Rag, 2020). He was a 2022 Zoeglossia Fellow and has also had nonfiction published in various journals including the Santa Ana Review, & The Catholic Worker. He lives in Pittsburgh.

Kim Jacobs-Beck is the author of Luminaries, and a chapbook, Torch. Her poems can seen at Museum of Americana, Great Lakes Review, West Trestle Review, Nixes Mate, Gyroscope, SWWIM, and Apple Valley Review, among other journals. She is the founder and editor- in-chief of Milk & Cake Press.


Born in Germany during WWII, Clarissa Jakobsons is a poet, book artist, and painter whose visual and written art is inspired by her Lithuanian heritage and her family’s history. Her 2023 book, Baltic Amber in a Chest, is published by Bird Dog Press.

Mitchell James: After living the first twenty-five years of my life in rural locations in Illinois, Arkansas, and South Dakota, I lived nearly a decade in rural Appalachia and have for the past six years lived in Northeast Ohio. It’s a bit different up here. I miss the country and mountains, but the Great Lakes region has its own beauty and draw.

Jessica Jones (MA, University Montana) is full-time faculty at Kent State University at Stark, where she teaches poetry, Native American Literature and composition courses that focus on social justice. Her work has been published in numerous journals and anthologies and her book, Bitterroot (2018), can be found at Finishing Line Press.

Jeremy Jusek is Parma’s poet laureate. He has authored three books: We Grow Tomatoes in Tiny Towns, The Less Traveled Street, and The Details Will Be Gone Soon. He hosts the Ohio Poetry Association's podcast Poetry Spotlight, runs the West Side Poetry Workshop, and founded the Flamingo Writers’ Guild.

Jason Kapcala is the author of the rust belt noir novel Hungry Town and the short story collection North to Lakeville. His writing has been nominated for numerous prizes, including the Pushcart Prize. He grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania, near the ruins of the Bethlehem Steel Works, and now lives in northern West Virginia. For more information, visit


Ed Karshner is an Associate Professor of English at Robert Morris University where he teaches writing and literature. A 2022 Summer Research Fellow at Berea College’s Special Collections and Archives, his creative non-fiction has appeared in the anthology Appalachian Reckoning and in Reckon Review where he is a featured columnist.


Hannah Allman Kennedy hails from the oil ghost towns of Venango County, Pennsylvania. Her debut novel, And It All Came Tumbling Down, was published in 2021 from the Watershed Journal Literary Group. She is a graduate of the Carlow University MFA in Creative Writing program. She lives in Pittsburgh.


Rebecca Kilroy is a novelist, short story writer and writing teacher. Arden Young is a writer and visual artist. Both eager to explore their fears around mortality, they founded Thanatos Review with the goal of broadening conversations around death.


Bob King is an Associate Professor of English at Kent State University at Stark. He holds degrees from Loyola University Chicago and Indiana University (MFA, poetry), where he was Editor-in-Chief of Indiana Review. Bob’s poetry has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Narrative Magazine, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Northwest Review, Quarter After Eight, Allium: a Journal of Poetry & Prose, and Green Mountains Review, among dozens of other journals.


Jen Knox was a high school dropout who went on to find purpose through writing, which led her to earn a BA in English from Otterbein and an MFA from Bennington. Her short fiction and creative nonfiction are taught in classrooms and appear in over two hundred publications around the world. Jen's first novel, We Arrive Uninvited, won the Steel Toe Books Award in Prose.


Ellen Kombiyil is the author of Histories of the Future Perfect (2015), and a micro chapbook Avalanche Tunnel (2016). Her latest book, Love as Invasive Species, is forthcoming in 2024. A 2022 BRIO Award winner from the Bronx Council on the Arts, she teaches writing at Hunter College.


Virginia Konchan is the author of four poetry collections, including Bel Canto (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2022), and Hallelujah Time (Véhicule Press, 2021), a collection of short stories, Anatomical Gift, and is coeditor of Marbles on the Floor: How to Assemble a Book of Poems (University of Akron Press, 2023).

Kellie Rose Kordinak is a senior working towards her B.A. degrees in History and Applied Communications at Kent State University at Stark. She is an active member of the Honors Program, Chairman of the KSU Stark Anti-Human Trafficking Committee (AHTC), Club Leader of the Creative Writing Club and currently works as a Talent Recruiter. 

Paula J. Lambert has published several collections of poetry including The Ghost of Every Feathered Thing (FutureCycle 2022) and How to See the World (Bottom Dog 2020). Awarded PEN America's L'Engle-Rahman Prize for Mentorship and two Ohio Arts Council grants, she lives in Columbus with her husband Michael Perkins.

Ananda Lima is the author of Craft (Tor Books, forthcoming 2024), Mother/land (Black Lawrence Press, winner of the Hudson Prize, 2021), and four chapbooks, including Amblyopia (Bull City Press). Her work has appeared in The American Poetry Review,, Kenyon Review Online, Gulf Coast, Witness, Pleiades, and elsewhere.

Crystal Lin is a sophomore Social Work and Spanish student in the YSU Sokolov Honors College. Crystal is a host for the Transcribing Club, the treasurer for Los Buenos Vecinos Student Club, and the treasurer for the Student Social Work Association.


Anne Garwig Lucas graduated from the NEOMFA and is currently a doctoral teaching fellow at Kent State University. She/they have published poetry in Abstract Magazine, Cleaver, TIMBER, The Mojave River Review, The Ekphrastic Review, and Jenny. Anne served on the Lit Youngstown board of directors from 2017-2019.


David Lucas has an MA in English from YSU. He currently teaches ELA, ELL, and Mythology at Boardman High School, and composition and rhetoric part-time online at Eastgate Community College.

Meagan Lucas is the author of the award-winning novel, Songbirds and Stray Dogs (2019) and the collection, Here in the Dark (Shotgun Honey, 2023).  Meagan’s short work is in journals like Still, BULL and Pithead Chapel. She teaches at Robert Morris University and is the Editor-in-Chief of Reckon Review.

Author Marjorie Maddox, Lock Haven University English professor, has published 14 collections of poetry (most recently Begin with a Question and ekphrastic collections Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For and In the Museum of My Daughter’s Mind)+ the prose collection What She Was Saying; children’s books; an anthology on Pennsylvania.

Jennifer Martelli is the author of The Queen of Queens and My Tarantella, named a “Must Read” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. Her work has appeared in Poetry and elsewhere. Jennifer Martelli has received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She is co-poetry editor for Mom Egg Review.

Attracted to words at an early age, Rod Martinez wrote his first book in grade school, and his teacher used it to encourage creativity in her students. His high school English teacher told him to try short story writing, he listened, and the rest – as they say, is history.

Chloe Martinez is a poet and scholar of South Asian religions. She is the author of the collection Ten Thousand Selves (The Word Works, 2021) and the chapbook Corner Shrine (Backbone Press, 2020). Her work has appeared in POETRY, Ploughshares, AGNI, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. She works at Claremont McKenna College.

Jacob Martzaklis is currently a student at Kent State University with a major in English and a minor in Creative Writing. He enjoys reading and writing poetry, spending time with family, and continually learning new ideas and insights regarding the world around him. He hopes to one day become a professor and have some of his work published.


Nancy McCabe is the author of eight books, including Can This Marriage Be Saved? (Missouri 2020) and From Little Houses to Little Women: Revisiting a Literary Childhood (Missouri 2014). Her debut YA novel is Vaulting through Time (CamCat July 2023) and her debut middle-grade novel, Fires Burning Underground, is forthcoming from Regal House.


Ryan McCarthy, MD is a primary care physician and assistant professor in WVU’s School of Medicine, Eastern Campus. Inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ryan created Healthcare is Human to provide a forum where healthcare workers tell own stories.

Jonie McIntire, Poet Laureate of Lucas County, Ohio, has authored three chapbooks, including Semidomesticated, (rereleased through Sheila-Na-Gig Editions in 2022) 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. McIntire hosts Uncloistered Poetry from Toledo. Learn about her at


Wendy McVicker is Poet Laureate emerita (2020-2022) of Athens, Ohio, and a longtime Ohio Arts Council teaching artist. Her most recent chapbook is Zero, a Door (The Orchard Street Press, 2021). Her collaborative collection with poet Cathy Cultice Lentes is forthcoming from The Orchard Street Press in 2023.

Jackie Mercer is a Senior Lecturer at Youngstown State University in the English Education and English and World Languages Departments. Currently chasing her two boys and an EdD.


Robert Miltner’s books include a lyric memoir, Ohio Apertures (Cornerstone Press); a collection of short stories, And Your Bird Can Sing ( Bottom Dog Press); and three collections of prose poetry: Hotel Utopia (New Rivers Press), Orpheus & Echo (Etruscan Press), and Cicatrix Vortex Codex, forthcoming from MadHat Press.

Barbara Marie Minney, a seventh generation Appalachian,  is a transgender woman, award-winning poet, writer, and quiet activist. Barbara’s first collection of poetry, If There’s No Heaven, was the winner of the 2020 Poetry Is Life Book Award and was selected by the Akron Beacon Journal as a Best Northeast Ohio Book in 2020. Barbara is a retired attorney and lives in Tallmadge, Ohio, with her wife of 41 years. She is also the author of the Poetic Memoir Chapbook Challenge.


Jennifer Moore is the author of The Veronica Maneuver (The University of Akron Press, 2015), Smaller Ghosts (Seven Kitchens Press, 2020), and Easy Does It (The University of Akron Press, 2021). Her poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, The Bennington Review, Interim, The Cincinnati Review, and other venues.

Sylvia Moran (she/her/hers) is a queer poet and author from Cleveland, Ohio. She is currently in the NEOMFA program, focusing on poetry and nonfiction. Sylvia has been published in pendemic and Ashbelt. She is always looking to find more ways to bring joy through writing.

Deni Naffziger is a poet with over 30 years of experience teaching Creative Writing at Hocking College, Ohio University, and Kendal College in England as a Fulbright Scholar. Naffziger co-authored Revenants: A Story of Many Lives, awarded an Ohio Arts Council Special Projects grant. She co-founded The Writers’ Collaborative that partnered college-level creative writing students and adults with disabilities.

Susan Nason is a junior double-majoring in History and English at Kent State Stark, and a professional photographer. She is a second year student leader in the Creative Writing Club. Following graduation, she hopes to utilize her skills in a career that serves the public.   


Renée K. Nicholson is associate professor and Director of WVU’s Humanities Center. She was the 2018 recipient of the Susan S. Landis Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts from the State of West Virginia for writing stories with over 70 patients with cancer. She has authored several books, including Fierce and Delicate: Essays on Dance and Illness.

Poet and 30-year educator Aimee Noel has published in journals such as Witness, Michigan Quarterly Review, Belt, and elsewhere. She was a Summer Fellow at Provincetown’s Fine Arts Work Center and recipient of OAC’s 2020 Individual Excellence Award. She can also eat her weight in pierogi. Find her at


Lauren Olesh is a published queer writer, comic, screenwriter, and poet. She’s graduate of the North East Ohio Master of Fine Arts program. Lo is currently working on her novel, Growing, and a graphic memoir about her uncle’s untimely death. She loves hikes in nature, and all things witchy.

Carolyn Oliver is the author of two poetry collections: The Alcestis Machine (Acre Books, forthcoming 2024) and Inside the Storm I Want to Touch the Tremble (University of Utah Press, 2022), selected by Matthew Olzmann for the Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry. Her chapbooks include Night Ocean and Dearling.

Caryl Pagel is the author of Free Clean Fill Dirt (University of Akron Press, 2022), Twice Told (University of Akron Press), and Experiments I Should Like Tried at My Own Death (Factory Hollow Press), as well as a collection of essays, Out of Nowhere Into Nothing (FC2), and three chapbooks.

Maria Cougras Pappas is a Youngstown-area educator whose service spans the roles of Teacher, Gifted & Talented Coordinator, High School Literacy Coach, Elementary Principal, Chief of Curriculum, and Superintendent. She was selected as The Ohio Gifted Educator of the Year by The Ohio Association for Gifted Children and was appointed to the State Superintendent's Gifted Advisory Panel.


Loustella Perry, also known as Lucy, is an English major/creative writing minor at Kent State University at Stark. She is a self-published author of a poetry collection called Toast, which is  available on Amazon. She enjoys content creation and working on social media for Kent Stark’s feminism club. 


Susan Petrone is author of five novels, including The Musical Mozinskis (2023) and The Heebie-Jeebie Girl (2020). Her short fiction has been published by Glimmer Train, Muse, Conclave, Cleveland Review, and Whiskey Island. Her non-fiction has appeared in CoolCleveland, Belt magazine, and She is a recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award.


Georgia A. Popoff, Syracuse, NY, is the YMCA of CNY’s Downtown Writers Center Workshops Coordinator and faculty member, editor/book coach, and was named Poet Laureate of Onondaga County, NY (2022-2024). The Under Discussion series editor for University of Michigan Press, her fourth collection is Psychometry (Tiger Bark Press, 2019).


Bonnie Proudfoot's novel, Goshen Road was the 2022 WCONA Book of the Year and Long-listed for the PEN/ Hemingway. Fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in journals and anthologies. A new chapbook of poems, Household Gods, was published by Sheila-Na-Gig. She lives in Athens, Ohio, and teaches at WVU.

Stacy Joy Quiñones was born and raised in Youngstown. She is a communications and public relations professional who graduated with a BA from YSU and earned her MA at Ohio University. Stacy loves stories and storytellers that make you question everything.

Nicole Ravas earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Carlow University. Her work has been published in The Ekphrastic Review, Loud Coffee Press, and Voices from the Attic. She is a fiction reader for the Northern Appalachia Review and a member and mentor in Madwomen in the Attic.

The First Poet Laureate of Greenville, South Carolina, Glenis Redmond received the Governor’s Award and induction into the South Carolina Academy of Authors in 2022. The Listening Skin was longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award.

Phoebe Reeves is Professor of English at the University of Cincinnati. She has three chapbooks of poetry, most recently The Flame of Her Will. Her first full length collection, Helen of Bikini was published in March 2023. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband Don, amidst her unruly urban garden.         


Debbie Rigaud is a New York Times bestselling author of YA, MG, and soon, picture books. She colors her stories with sights and sounds of her hometown East Orange, New Jersey. Debbie now lives with her husband and children in Columbus, Ohio, where she's actively transferring her impressions of Midwestern life onto new pages.

An Ohio native, Sandra Rivers-Gill's debut, As We Cover Ourselves With Lightwork, is forthcoming from Sheila-na-Gig Publishing and her work has appeared in Hope Springs Eternal, Rise Up Review, North of Oxford, Open Earth III, As It Ought To Be, Poet’s Against Racism & Hate USA, Jerry Jazz Musician, ONE ART, and elsewhere. 

Nicole Robinson is author of the poetry collection Without a Field Guide (Unbound Edition Press). Her poems have  appeared in Columbia Journal, The Fourth River, Spillway, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of an Individual Excellence Award in poetry from the Ohio Arts Council and currently serves as the narrative medicine coordinator at Akron Children’s Hospital. 

Transborder poet Juan Rojas has been published in several languages. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Arizona, and was an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at Amherst College, Massachusetts. Retired from Ohio Wesleyan University, Rojas chaired the foreign languages department and served as associate Dean for Diversity.

Sarah Rose, a spoken word artist living in Pittsburgh, is ranked among the top female poets in the city and has competed at the National Poetry Slam in Atlanta. She was a regional competitor of The Moth storytelling series on NPR and is president of the Pittsburgh Poetry Collective.

Jennifer Roth is a fiction writer currently completing her MFA in creative writing at Carlow University. A technical writer by day and a member of Carlow’s Madwomen in the Attic Writing Workshops, Roth is re-learning storytelling as a craft. Her fiction has been published in Voices from the Attic.

Barbara Sabol’s latest collection, WATERMARK: Poems of the Johnstown Flood of 1889, was published by Alternating Currents Press. She is the associate editor of Sheila-Na-Gig online. Her honors include an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. Barbara lives in Akron, Ohio with her husband and wonder dogs.

S. Renay Sanders's love of the spoken word began amidst a family of storytellers in Tennessee. Her poetry and stories have appeared in several anthologies including, WOAP's Women Speak. Her chapbook Dancing in Place was published 2019. She writes from her home in the Cuyahoga Valley. 


Miranda Scharf serves as Poetry Editor and Social Media Manager for Milk and Cake Press. She holds a BA in English literature from Miami University  and a BFA in theatre arts from The Theatre School at DePaul University. She is also beginning work as a freelance editor.

Joline ScottRoller is a PenParentis Team Leader with over ten years of editing and teaching experience. She holds a BA, MA, and MFA in Fiction. She lives in Ashland, Ohio with her two children and three cats.


Sara Shearer is a poet from Cuyahoga Falls, OH, whose writing focuses on place and memory. Recently, her poetry has appeared in the I Thought I Heard a Cardinal Sing and Songs for Wild Ohio anthologies.


Sarah Shotland is director of Madwomen in the Attic and co-founder of Words Without Walls. She is author of the novel Junkette and the nonfiction project Abolition is Everything. Her work has been published in Creative Nonfiction, Baltimore Review, HOBART, The Iowa Review and elsewhere.


Larry R. 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.   


Rose M. Smith's work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is author of four chapbooks, most recently Holes in My Teeth (Kattywompus Press, 2016). Her collection, Unearthing Ida (Glass Lyre Press, 2019), won the 2018 Lyrebird Prize. She has been a Senior Editor with Pudding Magazine, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and a Cave Canem fellow.


Judith Sornberger’s books include Angel Chimes: Poems of Advent and Christmas (Shanti Arts), I Call to You from Time (Wipf & Stock), Practicing the World (CavanKerry), Open Heart  (Calyx Books), six chapbooks and the prose memoir The Accidental Pilgrim/Finding God and His Mother in Tuscany (Shanti Arts).

John Sorvillo is the Director for Westwood Prep Academy at New Beginnings. New Beginnings is a Children's Residential Treatment Center. Westwood Prep serves children receiving intense therapy for severe trauma, including juvenile sex offenders.


Jennifer Sperry Steinorth’s books include A Wake with Nine Shades (2019) and Her Read, A Graphic Poem (2021), recipient of Foreword Review’s bronze prize in poetry. She lectures at the University of Michigan and is a 2023-2024 Beinecke Fellow at Yale, conducting research for a biography of C.D. Wright.

David Swerdlow’s third book of poetry, Nightstand, is forthcoming from Broadstone Books. His work has appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, The Iowa Review, and other distinguished journals. A professor of English at Westminster College, Swerdlow serves as co-director of the James Wright Poetry Festival.

Natalie Sypolt lives and writes in West Virginia. She is the author of The Sound of Holding Your Breath (West Virginia University Press), former President of the Appalachian Studies Association, co-editor of Change Seven Magazine, and an Associate Professor of English and Writing Coordinator at Pierpont Community & Technical College.

Patricia Thrushart writes poetry and historical nonfiction. Her fourth book of poems is Inspired By Their Voices: Poems from Underground Railroad Testimonies (Mammoth Books). Her work appears in Appalachian voices anthologies I Thought I Heard A Cardinal Sing and Women of Appalachia Speak. She coedits North/South Appalachia and its yearly anthology, and is cofounder of Poets Against Racism & Hate USA.


Laura Maylene Walter is the author of the novel Body of Stars and is the Ohio Center for the Book Fellow at Cleveland Public Library, where she hosts Page Count, a literary podcast. Her writing has received support from Yaddo, Ohio Arts Council, Ohioana Library Association, Tin House, and elsewhere.

Rachel Walton graduated from Carlow University’s MFA in Creative Writing Program, with a specialty in creative nonfiction. She has

been a pediatric nurse, women’s health nurse practitioner, and hospice nurse. She is working on a memoir about caring for her husband when he was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer.


Randi Ward is a poet, translator, and photographer from WV. She earned an MA in Cultural Studies from the University of the Faroe Islands and has twice won the American-Scandinavian Foundation's Nadia Christensen Prize. Her work was featured on Folk Radio UK, National Public Radio, and PBS NewsHour. For more information, visit

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

Karen J. Weyant is a poet and essayist who lives in Warren, Pennsylvania. Her first full-length poetry collection is Avoiding the Rapture (2023). She is an Associate Professor of English at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, New York. Her website is

In her debut young adult novel, I’ll Be There for You, Brieanna Wilkoff (she/her) shows how theatre can be a lifeline—how it transforms the life of the main character, Rae, as it did for her in high school. Brieanna lives in Westerville, Ohio, with her husband, daughter, and dog.

Sarah Ann Winn’s first book, Alma Almanac (Barrow Street, 2017), won the Barrow Street Book Prize. Her most recent collection is Ever After the End Matter (Porkbelly, 2019). In 2022, she was awarded the MISA Excellence in Teaching Fellowship by the Loft Literary Center. Join her classes and retreats at Find her at

Shaunda Yancey is a literacy specialist, working with public library systems to provide students with access to a range of reading resources. Shaunda is the owner of D.O.P.E poetry, a non-profit organization that supports scholars interested in writing and performing original poetry. As a Project LIT chapter leader, Shaunda is committed to promoting literacy through student book clubs, and also runs book clubs for parents to support their children's learning.


Mary Kay Zuravleff is the award-winning author of American Ending, inspired by her Russian Orthodox Old Believer grandparents, who lived in Marianna and Erie. Her novel, Man Alive!, was a Washington Post Notable Book, and she is the winner of the American Academy’s Rosenthal Award. She lives in Washington, DC.

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