Capturing Youngstown Through Poetry

By Brianna Gleghorn

Lovers of art and poetry gathered to hear Karen Schubert read poems from her new book, “Dear Youngstown” at A&C Studios on Feb. 28 where drinks and cookies were provided.

Schubert is also a co-director of Lit Youngstown, a nonprofit literary arts organization, and teaches composition at Youngstown State University.

In her career, she has won the William Dickey Memorial Broadside prize, an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award and residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and Headlands Center for the Arts.

The “Dear Youngstown” author wrote her poems with no intention of publishing them together. It wasn’t until after she wrote them she realized they all connected.

“Instead of sitting down and writing a collection, it kind of worked the other way around,” Schubert said. “I had a lot of pieces about my experience in Youngstown and thought they all went together.”  

The book is 48 pages of poems including “Ella Fitzgerald Marries Ray Brown,” “Dec. 10, 1947,” “Sculpture Near Bliss Hall,” “I Miss You,” “Chicken in Every Pot” and a poem about her grandson named “Autumn with Parker.”

The reading finished with “Letter to Youngstown,” a poem that shows the diversity and culture of Youngstown and Youngstown State University. She describes buildings and traits of the city that only residents would understand.

Timothy Gaewsky was the cover artist for the book, and Schubert said if she sees an artist she likes, she asks if she can use his or her art for covers of books.

“I like to work with both artists and poets and bring them together,” she said.

The collection of poems was published by NightBallet Press with Dianne Borsenik as editor, publisher and a poet herself.

The event began with Borsenik reading excerpts from her collection of poems called “Raga” for “What Comes Next.”

Along with the readings, art from the students of Dragana Crnjak, an associate professor of art, were hung on the walls for attendees to view. Julie Papadimas, a member of the audience, said she enjoyed the event and the poet.

“[Schubert] is a very talented writer and the reading was wonderful,” she said. “She did a great job describing all that the city has gone through over the years. [Schubert] is an inspiration to us all.”

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