Sixth Annual Young Writers and Artists Festival

November 2-4, 2017

2017 Festival information | Footage from past events

Check out these videos from three of our amazing featured speakers!
Sarah Kay:
If I should have a daughter
 Jamaal May:
I do have a seam                                       
Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib:


2017 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.

Workshop Leaders to Kick Off 2017 Young Writers and Artists Festival

On Thursday, November 2, Poet Naomi Shihab Nye will headline an Upper School assembly to kick off the 2017 Young Writers and Artists Festival. At 6:30 that evening, the festival will host readings by Sarah Kay, Jamaal May, Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, Paula McLain, David Giffels, and Naomi Shihab Nye in The Ahuja Auditorium. Book sales will follow in the HB Atrium. At 7:30 p.m. on November 2, Songwriting workshop leader Seth Johnson will perform with HB students at NightTown.

Special Thanks

This event is made possible through The Horvitz/Rosenthal Family Fund for the Young Writers and Artists Festival, The Grace Wood Bregenzer 1927 Memorial Fund for the Young Writers and Artists Festival, the Peyrat Family Fund for the Young Writers and Artists Festival, through the generous support of the Hathaway Brown Parent Association, and through designated gifts to the Hathaway Brown Annual Fund. Please email to learn more. 


9 a.m.: Upper School Assembly with Naomi Shihab Nye 

12 p.m.: Lunch Forum with Naomi Shihab Nye and Ujjwala Maharjan. Open to parents. All those interested in attending should email to RSVP.

6:30 p.m.: Public reading and book signing by Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction workshop leaders. This event is free and open to the public, but RSVP is required. Please register here

7:30 p.m.: Concert by Songwriting workshop leader Seth Johnson at NightTown. Note: there is a ticket fee to attend this concert, but all students who participate in the Songwriting workshop may attend free of charge. 

8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.: High School Workshops  


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. Please click here 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 (this section under construction)



Authentic Voice: Alexandra Fuller
Third Annual H. William Christ Keynote Speaker

Alexandra Fuller has written five books of non-fiction. Her debut book, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, 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 won the Ulysses Prize for Art of Reportage. In 2008, Fuller’s The Legend of Colton H Bryant told the story of a modern-day Wyoming cowboy working on that state’s oil rigs. She contributed the essay on Wyoming in the 2008 book State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America. The New York Times Best Selling, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, is a prequel/sequel to Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. Her most recent memoir, about marriage and divorce, is entitled Leaving Before the Rains Come. Fuller has written for The New Yorker, Vogue, and is a frequent contributor to National Geographic Magazine. She recently released her first novel, Quiet Until the Thaw (June 2017, Penguin).


Creative Nonfiction: David Giffels

David Giffels is the author of the memoir, Furnishing Eternity: A Father, a Son, a Coffin, and a Measure of Life, to be published by Scribner in January 2018. His previous books include The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches from the Rust Belt (Scribner 2014), a New York Times Book Review “Editor’s Choice” and nominee for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and the memoir All the Way Home (William Morrow/HarperCollins 2008), winner of the Ohioana Book Award.

His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the, Parade, the Wall Street Journal,,, Redbook, and many other publications. He also was a writer for the MTV series Beavis and Butt-Head.

He is an associate professor of English at the University of Akron, where he teaches creative nonfiction in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Program.


Poetry: Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism has been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, and The New York Times. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and his poem "Hestia" won the 2014 Capital University poetry prize. His first full length collection, The Crown Ain't Worth Much, is forthcoming in 2016 from Button Poetry / Exploding Pinecone Press. He is a Callaloo Creative Writing Fellow, an interviewer at Union Station Magazine, and a poetry editor at Muzzle Magazine. He also is a member of the poetry collective Echo Hotel with poet/essayist Eve Ewing.

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: John G.

JOHN G is an illustrator, comics creator and head of Cleveland based Shiner Comics, Inc. With Jake Kelly, he creates and publishes The Lake Erie Monster, a rust-belt centered, horror comic. He co-founded and continues to run Genghis Con, an award-winning annual small press comic convention in Cleveland. In 2016 he was one of 40 artists awarded the Creative Workforce Fellowship grants by The Community Partnership for Arts and Culture.

Stop-Motion Claymation: Tyler Zeleny

Tyler Zeleny (b. 1990, Brunswick, OH) is a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) recipient from William Paterson University and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) recipient from Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA). Zeleny’s work has been exhibited at Waterloo Arts (2017, 2016), Gallery One-Sixty (2016 and 2013), Survival Kit (2012), Legation (2011), Forum Artspace (2011, 2017) and Lynch-Tham Gallery in New York City (2015). Zeleny’s curatorial debut was an exhibit titled “Grawlixes” at William Paterson’s Power Arts Gallery. Tyler lives in Cleveland and works as Visual Arts and Digital Media teacher at Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights, OH.



Fiction: Paula McLain

Paula McLain is the author of The Paris Wife, a New York Times and international bestseller, which has been published in thirty-four languages. The recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, the Cleveland Arts Prize, the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, she is also the author of two collections of poetry; a memoir, Like Family, Growing up in Other People’s Houses; and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She lives with her family in Cleveland.


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: Seth Johnson

Seth L Johnson is an established guitarist, a passionate composer and dedicated educator (all ages and skill levels). Having earned his Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance from San Francisco State University, and his Master’s degree from Mason Gross School of the Arts (under the tutelage of Vic Juris), Johnson grasps and interprets a well-rounded, expansive scope of musical genres. He plays Jazz, Western Classical, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Peruvian, Brazilian, African, Country, Funk, Bosa Nova, Hip Hop, and any popular North American styles. From free improvised music, to Rock, to Jazz standards, he will have fun with all of it, taking the music as far as his body allows. Johnson was born in Buffalo, NY and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. There, he began playing and experimenting with guitars, at age 10. Largely self-taught, he developed individualistic approaches to music and his instrument-- prior to receiving formal training. Inspired by his first teacher, Cleveland blues guitarist John Christopherson, Johnson delved deeply into the blues and finger-style guitar. Thus, while thoroughly exploring the outskirts of the guitar’s sound and timbre, and embracing his musical versatility, the blues has ultimately remained at the core of his style.Johnson is also a member of the Brooklyn based supergroup People's Champs, whose members have performed internationally with Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, Boy George, Beyonce and many others. As a leader Seth can be seen performing in such notable New York venues as The Blue Note Jazz Club, The Apollo Theatre, The Lambs Club, The Bitter End, The Rum House, Fat Cat, Smoke, Brooklyn Bowl, The Jazz Standard, Mercury Lounge, Zinc Bar, S.O.B.'s, Joe’s Pub, Rockwood Music Hall among others. Clubs and venues aside, you may catch Johnson playing in colleges, theaters and performing arts centers, across the United States and abroad.


Printmaking: Rebekah Wilhelm

Rebekah Wilhelm is a professional artist and printmaker currently working in Cleveland Ohio. She completed her Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Delaware and has her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Cleveland Institute of Art. She has shown her work in multiple group and curated shows and traveling portfolios throughout the country including the Cleveland Print Room’s Experiment in Process, Cleveland Ohio, Co-Curated The Cleveland West Art League’s The Intersection of Process, as well as the Crane Arts Building in Philadelphia as part of the Rate of Return show in conjunction with the Philagraphika 2010 conference and has exhibited in a solo show in New York City at Salt Gallery. She currently teaches at Tri-C Community College as an adjunct and works as Shop Manager at Zygote Press. She has fully transitioned the shop at Zygote to a green, non-toxic space as part of the Zygote Operation Green initiative.  


Ceramics: Kristen Cliffel

Kristen Cliffel’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Erie Art Museum (PA); the Canton Museum of Art (OH); The Clay Studio (Philadelphia, PA); William Busta Gallery (Cleveland, OH); and The Other Gallery Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada). Cliffel’s work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions at such venues as the Akron Art Museum (OH), The Windsor Gallery of Art, Ontario, Canada, San Angelo Museum (TX), Mobilia Gallery (Cambridge, MA), Borelli Edwards Gallery (Pittsburgh, PA), Baltimore Clayworks (MD), Santa Fe Clay Gallery (NM), and Anderson Gallery (Buffalo, NY). Between 2014 and 2017 Cliffel’s work was featured in State of the Art, Discovering American Art Now, a traveling exhibition that originated at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.





Playwriting: Arwen Mitchell

Arwen Mitchell is a playwright, dramaturge, and educator based in Cleveland, Ohio. Produced plays include RPM (Revolutions Per Minute), Snake Oil, The Birds and the Bees, and The Maybe Pile. She was the recipient of Cleveland Public Theatre’s 2nd Nord Playwriting Fellowship, and was a PlayLabs playwright in 2015’s Great Plains Theatre Conference. She holds an MS in Theatre History & Criticism from Illinois State University, as well as an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. She is a company member of Ohio City Theatre Project, teaching artist for Playwrights Local 4181, and is a member of The Dramatists Guild and International Center for Women Playwrights.


Footage from past festivals

 Watch: 2015 Festival participants perform their original works.

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