By Amanda Lehnerd
Youngstown State University’s Compose: Review of Writing has partnered with Lit Youngstown for the first time since the program started in 2011 for a recognition reading event at Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts Feb. 3.
Angela Messenger, coordinator of the YSU Writing Center and part of the CROW committee, has helped create a place for students to exchange ideas and receive recognition for outstanding work in composition courses.
Lit Youngstown is a nonprofit literary organization founded in 2015. The organization’s programs and events are focused on honing the craft of literary arts: publishing, performing and engaging with literature. They offer classes taught by writers and scholars each spring, summer and fall for all ages and experience levels.
“Lit Youngstown hosts many events throughout the year including readings at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts the first Wednesday of each month,” Messenger said.
YSU CROW is composed of students who have submitted their graded work from undergraduate English courses. When students submit their work, they have to remove their name and their professor’s name from the assignment, and it is goes through a double blind review process.
“The CROW subcommittee aims to publish a journal of the selected writing samples. This collection of student writing recognizes the curiosity, analysis and elegance that make a strong essay,” Messenger said. “The publication showcases works from the different levels of composition courses to celebrate the continuum of student writing.”
The students who composed the selected writing samples are given the opportunity to read them at the recognition party. Not every student who has work selected is able to attend the event to read his or her work.
Philip Brady — professor at YSU, poet, essayist and editor — is one of the featured readers at the event. Brady has four of his students reading work that was selected. He will also be reading work from students who are not able to attend the event.
Brady will be presenting a chapter from his latest book, “To Banquet with the Ethiopians: a Memoir of Life Before the Alphabet.”
“The chapter will feature some great writers like Homer and Joyce, and they will come together at a poetry workshop,” Brady said. “The book takes place on the border between myth and time.”
According to Brady, this inclusive event is a great place for the students and community to be heard and interact with well-known writers.
Lynn Lurie is the other featured speaker at the event. She is an attorney with a Master of Arts in international affairs and a Master of Fine Arts in writing. She is a mentor at Girls Write Now in New York City. Her latest novel is titled “Quick Kills.”
Guy Shebat, a YSU English professor, has been a supporter of the YSU CROW program from the beginning. Since the partnership with Lit Youngstown, the event is now taking place in the spring semester, whereas in the past the reading event was only offered in the fall.
“It is nice to see the reading event return to the local downtown area,” Shebat said. “The past year we partnered with the poetry center and presented readings in Kilcawley Center. In the years before that, we rented a room at a local downtown restaurant for the reading event.”
Students whose work is selected not only have the chance to present it at the reading event, but they also receive an award.
“Student authors of selected works get a certificate and a gift card or small monetary prize dependent on donations received,” Messenger said. “There is often some swag included as well.”
YSU Writing Center has started collecting work from students from summer and fall 2015 semesters for the next volume and reading event. Composition students who are interested in submitting work from summer and fall and the current semester can email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the Writing Center in Maag Library.