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Writer Residency with Quartez Harris

Updated: Jun 13, 2022

We are so grateful to the Ohio Arts Council for an Arts Resiliency Grant Community Projects Award for allowing us to invite poet Quartez Harris to Youngstown, with additional underwriting from Rob Briggs & Alyssa Lenhoff-Briggs and the Raymond J. Wean Foundation.

Friday, Quartez visited 6 classrooms at Chaney High School, reading and speaking to over 120 students and answering their perceptive questions. We are so grateful to Maria Pappas and Mr./Ms. Jennings, Banks, Gallagher, Weems, Dooley, Dorbish, Gruber and Thompson for inviting us into your classrooms. At Kirkmere Elementary, Quartez led over 170 students in high energy chants, read some poems, and encouraged the children to read.

In the evening, Quartez taught new poetry writers how to write a sonnet, and then took the stage at St. John's Episcopal Church for a reading, along with poet Sony Ton-Aime. Thank you to St. John's for hosting a lovely evening.

Saturday, historian Vince Shivers led us on a Black history tour, beginning at the Youngstown Historical Center for Industry and Labor with slides to touch on some of the important people and places that shaped our past and present. We visited Oak Hill Cemetery where a Civil War reenacter told stories of Black veterans who returned to Youngstown after the war. We also learned about Malinda Knight, a business woman. and many others who came to Youngstown via the Underground Railroad.

Vince also told us about builder P. Ross Berry. One stop on the tour was to YSU Fok Hall, now housing the Sokolov Honors College, the best extant example of Berry's work. We also visited the historically important YMCA on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

At each stop, Quartez read his poetry and spoke of his own experiences, which helped connect the past to the present through stories.

We are so grateful to Penny Wells; Ursula, James, Julia and Wayne of the Community Bus Service; Mollie Hartup of Sokolov Honors College; Debbie Allen; Dr. Jeff Allen, Dr. Lee, Mark Zetts, Cassidy Unger, and the students in the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services’ Hospitality Management program; Marcelle Wilson and the Youngstown Historical Center for Industry and Labor; Nate Offerdahl and the Westside Bowl; Rich and Oak Hill Cemetery; James Perry; and Christina Young.

This project is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically.

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