Fifth Annual Young Writers and Artists Festival

November 3-5, 2016

 2016 Festival information | Footage from past events

 Watch: 2015 Festival participants perform their original works.

Read the digital brochure

Check out these videos from two of our amazing featured speakers!
 Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter ...  Jamaal May: I do have a seam


2016 Young Artists & Writers Festival

Grades 9-12: Open to Cleveland-area high school girls, the Young Writers and Artists Festival offers small workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.  Each section offers students the opportunity to pursue their creative passions and develop their craft through working with a talented and accomplished professional writer or artist in a small workshop setting with other invested young writers/artists. Enrollment in each section is limited to 15 students. Students will not necessarily be placed in their first choice selections.

Sarah Kay and Jamaal May to Kick Off 2016 Young Writers Festival

On Thursday, November 3, Spoken Word Poets Sarah Kay and Jamaal May will kick off the fifth annual Young Writers & Artists Festival at Hathaway Brown School. Read more about them here. That same day, songwriter Diana Chittester will offer a special concert for students and adult members of the HB community at 12:30 in the Black Box Theatre. Read more about Diana here

Special Thanks

The Young Writers and Artists Festival woud like to extend a special thank you to the Hathaway Brown Parent Association for helping to underwrite this festival.


Thursday, November 3 — 9 a.m.: Upper School Assembly with Sarah Kay and Jamaal May;
12:30: Concert with Songwriter Diana Chittester

Friday, November 4 — 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.High School Workshops  

Saturday, November 5 — 9:00 a.m. - 12 p.m.Wrap-Up Session and Student Reading


Festival registration available online.

$125 per student

Some financial assistance is available. Email Sarah Johnston for any questions and to register with financial aid

Questions: Contact Scott Parsons, director of the Osborne Writing Center or 216.320.8796 ext. 7211.

High School Program: Grades 9-12



Mindfulness: Alexandra Fuller

Alexandra Fuller has written numerous books, including Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood (Random House 2001), which was a New York Times Notable Book for 2002, the 2002 Booksense Best Non-fiction book, a finalist for the Guardian’s First Book Award, and the winner of the 2002 Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize. Her 2004 Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier (Penguin Press) won the Ulysses Prize for Art of Reportage. She also is the author of The Legend of Colton H Bryant (2008 Penguin Press). Fuller has written extensively for magazines and newspapers, and her work has appeared in The New Yorker and National Geographic. She contributed the essay about Wyoming that appears in the 2008 book State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America. Fuller’s book Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness (Penguin 2011), is a prequel/sequel to Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. It has received very favorable reviews from The New York Times and others.

Creative Nonfiction: David Giffels

David Giffels is the author of The Hard Way on Purpose (Scribner, 2014), a collection of linked essays about the quirky, hardbitten cultural landscape of America’s Rust Belt. An assistant professor of English at University of Akron, Giffels teaches creative nonfiction in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Program. Giffels’ previous book, All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House (William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2008), is a memoir of growing into young fatherhood while trying to reclaim a ramshackle mansion. The book received widespread acclaim, from the New York Times, which described it as “sweet and funny” to the Los Angeles Times, which called it “a truly wonderful book” to Oprah’s O at Home magazine, where it topped the “Fantastic Summer Reads” list. His essays appear in the anthology Rust Belt Chic (RBC Publishing, 2012); The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia (Indiana University Press, 2006); The Appalachians: America’s First and Last Frontier (Random House, 2004); and West Point Market Cookbook (University of Akron Press, 2008). He has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Grantland, Redbook and many other publications. He also was a writer for the MTV series Beavis and Butt-Head. Giffels’ recent awards include the Cleveland Arts Prize for literature, the Ohioana Book Award, the Associated Press’ “Best News Writer in Ohio” award, and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists award for general excellence.

Poetry: Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye describes herself as a “wandering poet.” She has spent 40 years traveling the country and the world to lead writing workshops and inspiring students of all ages. Nye was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother and grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio. Drawing on her Palestinian-American heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in Texas, and her experiences traveling in Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East, Nye uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity. Naomi Shihab Nye is the author and/or editor of more than 30 volumes. Her books of poetry include 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East , A Maze Me: Poems for Girls, Red Suitcase, Words Under the Words, Fuel, and You & Yours (a best-selling poetry book of 2006). She is also the author of Mint Snowball, Never in a Hurry, I’ll Ask You Three Times, Are you Okay? Tales of Driving and Being Driven (essays); Habibi and Going Going (novels for young readers); Baby Radar and Sitti's Secrets (picture books) and There Is No Long Distance Now (a collection of very short stories). Other works include several prize-winning poetry anthologies for young readers, including Time You Let Me In, This Same Sky, The Space Between Our Footsteps: Poems & Paintings from the Middle East, What Have You Lost?, and Transfer. Her collection of poems for young adults entitled Honeybee won the 2008 Arab American Book Award in the Children’s/Young Adult category. Her new novel for children, The Turtle of Oman, was chosen both a Best Book of 2014 by The Horn Book and a 2015 Notable Children's Book by the American Library Association.

Comics: Derf

Comix creator Derf Backderf was born and raised in Richfield, Ohio, right down the street from a now-demolished sports arena. After a brief stint at art school, he dropped out and worked as a garbageman until he decided to give comics a try. For 24 years, Derf wrote and drew The City, a cranky freeform comic strip that was a staple in weekly papers nationwide, including The Village Voice. Backderf has received a host of honors for his newspaper comics, including a prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Award in 2006 for political satire. Derf retired the strip in early 2014 to concentrate on graphic novels. Derf is the author of two graphic novels, both international best sellers. Punk Rock & Trailer Parks (SLG Publishing, 2009), was cited by Booklist as "one of the stand-out graphic novels of the year." It was picked for inclusion in BEST AMERICAN COMICS 2010. Derf's latest graphic novel is My Friend Dahmer (Abrams Comicarts, 2012), the haunting account of his teenage friendship with the future serial killer. It has been hailed as one of the finest graphic novels in recent memory by Slate, BoingBoing, The Guardian (the UK) , USA Today, Le Monde (France), El Mundo (Spain) and many more. Time magazine listed it as one of the five best non-fiction books of the year. It received an Alex Award from the American Library Association, one of only ten books honored, and was named one of the 100 Greatest Graphic Novels by the same organization. It was awarded an Angoulême Prize, one of the most coveted honors in the industry, at the Angoulême International Comics Festival in France and the Prix du Polar for the best graphic novel of the year at the SNCF National Book Festival in Provence. My Friend Dahmer has been translated into French, German, Korean, Dutch and Spanish. It is currently in its 7th US printing and is in development as a film project. My Friend Dahmer was selected for BEST AMERICAN COMICS 2012. He is currently finishing a new graphic novel for Abrams, slated for publication in Fall 2015. The Derf Collection, comprised of 30 years of original art and papers, was established in The Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum at Ohio State University, his alma mater, in 2009. All his books are in the Library of Congress permanent collection. Derf lives in bucolic Cleveland, for reasons he can't remember, with his wife, Pulitzer prize winning journalist Sheryl Harris and their two children.

Stop-Motion Animation: Tyler Zeleny

Tyler Zeleny (b. 1990, Brunswick, OH) is a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) recipient from William Paterson University (WPUNJ) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) recipient from Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA). Tyler worked as a teacher and teacher’s assistant at CIA in 2012, as a TA at WPUNJ and as a substitute teacher in the Strongsville School System in 2013. Zeleny curated an exhibition of MFA Candidate work titled “Grawlixes” at William Paterson University’s Power Arts Gallery; in addition his work has been exhibited at the Lynch Tham Gallery in New York (2015), Miller Schneider Gallery (2013; now Gallery One-Sixty), Survival Kit Gallery (2012), ArtSpot (2012), Legation a Gallery (2011), Forum Artspace (2011), was frequently a part of exhibitions at CIA including the Student Independent Exhibition 66 (2012) and EMIT Film and Video Festival (2010). Tyler lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Flash Fiction: John Estes

John Estes directs the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. His poetry, prose, and translations have been widely published in journals such as AGNI, Tin House, West Branch, Gettysburg Review, and Southern Review. He is author of three volumes of poetry— Kingdom Come (C&R Press, 2011), Stop Motion Still Life (Wordfarm, forthcoming) and Sure Extinction, which won the 2015 Antivenom Prize from Elixir Press—and two chapbooks: Breakfast with Blake at the Laocoön (Finishing Line Press, 2007) and Swerve, which won a National Chapbook Fellowship from the Poetry Society of America.

Poetry: Sarah Kay

Sarah Kay grew up in New York City and began performing her poetry when she was only 14 years old. Even though she was often the youngest poet by a decade, Sarah made herself at home at the Bowery Poetry Club, one of New York's most famous Spoken Word venues.  In 2006, she joined the Bowery Poetry Club's Poetry Slam Team, NYC Urbana, and competed in the 2006 National Poetry Slam in Austin, Texas. That year, she was the youngest poet competing at Nationals. Sarah was featured on the sixth season of the television series Russell Simmons presents HBO Def Poetry Jam, where she performed her poem "Hands." She has performed in venues across the country including Lincoln Center, the Tribeca Film Festival, and the United Nations, where she was a featured performer for the launch of the 2004 World Youth Report.  She has also performed internationally in the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, India, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, France, Spain, Sweden, Australia, Mexico, and Singapore.  In 2004,Sarah founded Project V.O.I.C.E. and has since taught Spoken Word Poetry in classrooms and workshops all over the world, to students of all ages. Sarah was a featured speaker at the 2011 TED conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design) on "The Rediscovery of Wonder" in Long Beach, California. Sarah's first book, B (published by the Domino Project) has been ranked #1 bestselling poetry book on Amazon.

Poetry: Jamaal May

Jamaal May was born in 1982 in Detroit, MI where he taught poetry in public schools and worked as a freelance audio engineer. His first book is Hum (Alice James Books), which received the American Library Association’s Notable Book Award, Foreword Review’s Book of the Year Silver Medal, and an NAACP Image Award nomination. In 2014 Jamaal received more than a dozen awards and honors including the Spirit of Detroit Award, the Robert Frost Fellowship to Bread Loaf Writers Conference, The J. Howard and Barbara M. J. Wood Prize from Poetry, and a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship in Italy. His poems appear widely in magazines and have been anthologized in Please Excuse this Poem: 100 Poems for the Next Generation (Penguin), 2015 Pushcart Prize Anthology (Pushcart Press), Best American Poetry 2014 (Scribner), and elsewhere. Jamaal is a Kenyon Review Fellow and co-directs Organic Weapon Arts with Tarfia Faizullah.

Songwriting: Diana Chittester

Diana Chittester stands alone on stage with her arsenal of acoustic guitars. Her solo show is brought to life by her signature percussive multi-part playing, mimicking a full band on a solo acoustic guitar, blended with intelligent and articulate lyrics. The personal stories and vulnerability she shares on stage resonates with audiences as she invites them along on her journey. Diana’s energetic solo show provides audiences with the full experience. “If you don't believe an acoustic solo performance can fill a room with raw power, elegance and intelligence concurrently, you haven't experienced Diana Chittester” - Jennifer Conn (The Devil Strip)


Printmaking: Liz Maugans

Liz Maugans is an artist, co-founder and Executive Director of Zygote Press, a non-profit printmaking studio located in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the founder of the Collective Arts Network, a journal and arts network that works to promote Northeast Ohio visual artists and organizations to a greater audience through a free quarterly publication, website and collective events. She has organized one-person and thematic exhibitions featuring regional, national and internationally known artists. Her curatorial specialization is her devotion to emerging art, social justice and local experimental practices that broaden access through social networks and community-building initiatives. An advocate for artists and the visual arts, Maugans has served as a consultant for numerous organizations and art business start-ups. Her passion for cross-disciplinary partnerships includes collaborations with the North Shore Federation of Labor, The AIDS Taskforce, and Community Assessment and Treatment Services. She is an adjunct faculty member in printmaking and drawing at the Cleveland Institute of Art. She received her BFA in printmaking from Kent State University and her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1992. Maugans work is included in the Progressive Art Collection, BF Goodrich (Charlotte, N.C.) and The Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, (Columbus, OH) collections. She received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship in 2000 and a 2005 Artist-in-Communities Grant for "Drawing It Out", a program that introduces creative experiences for women (reentering the community from the criminal justice system) in chemical dependency programs towards their recovery. Maugans was awarded an Ohio Arts Council’s International Residency to Dresden, Germany in 2009. She was honored, along with her Zygote co-founder, the Martha Joseph Prize for Distinguished Service from the Cleveland Arts Prize in 2012. In 2013, she was awarded a $20,000 Creative Workforce Fellowship from Community Partnership for Arts and Culture.

Playwriting: Rinne Groff

Rinne Groff’s plays and musicals including 77%, Comfort Inn, Compulsion, Saved, In the Bubble, What Then, The Ruby Sunrise, Inky, Jimmy Carter was a Democrat, and Orange Lemon Egg Canary have been produced by the Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Trinity Rep, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Yale Rep, the Women’s Project, PS122, Clubbed Thumb, Target Margin, and San Francisco Playhouse, among others, in the United States and internationally. TV: staff writer on Weeds, season two. Rinne is a recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Obie Award grant. Founding member of Elevator Repair Service Theater Company. New Dramatists, Dramatist Guild.


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