Lit Cleveland Launches Gordon Square Review Issue 2 and Announces Winners of Free Stamp Flash Contest

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Literary Cleveland, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help create and nurture a vibrant literary arts community in Northeast Ohio, and Gordon Square Review, the organization’s new literary magazine, are proud to announce the launch of Issue 2, along with the winners of the magazine’s first Free Stamp Flash Contest. Gordon Square Review showcases emerging writers nationwide, awards editing mentorships, and provides a venue to spotlight Northeast Ohio writers.

Issue 2 will launch on May 10th. Editors, writers published in Issue 2, and the Northeast Ohio literary community will gather on Tuesday, May 15th from 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at Terrestrial Brewing Company, 7524 Father Frascati, Cleveland OH for the launch party. In addition to readings, there will be a raffle of Lit Cleveland merchandise.

The Free Stamp Flash Contest, named for the Free Stamp sculpture in Downtown Cleveland, was open to Northeast Ohio writers. The winner will receive $250, publication in Issue 2 of Gordon Square Review, an invitation to read at the Issue 2 launch party, and a voucher for one free Literary Cleveland single-session class.

This year’s winner is Melissa N. Warren, for her flash piece “Bees.” Warren moved back to Ohio recently from an island in coastal Georgia.  During her teenage years and early 20s, she published in literary journals in the South and won the Gold Award for her poetry with both National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts and National Scholastic. She spent the next decade traveling and writing place-based stories. A mother of two now, her writing is inspired by nature hikes and seeing creatures through child-eyes.

“My friend’s husband was undergoing the Whipple procedure, a 14-hour surgery for pancreatic cancer,” Warren said of writing this story.  “I spoke to her while she waited in the hospital throughout the surgery, and imagined what it was like to have a partner undergo such an intense procedure. After several check-ins, I took my youngest, and went walking. I met a woman who was a beekeeper in a sweet little cottage, and she spoke almost exactly the words I wrote down in the story. It was uncanny, the parallels between wax moths and cancerous cells, between ending things quickly or opting to fight the impending spread of moths and disease.”

Additionally, the editors of Gordon Square Review chose a runner up in the contest, Kelly Griffiths, for her flash piece “Tease.” Having recently recovered from brain surgery, Griffiths says, “I found out I needed brain surgery in the middle of teaching a class. I called, thinking it would be the usual, all’s well. It was not. I made it through the rest of that day on a strength not my own. By faith I finished teaching, marked a moment where my students all laughed and teaching was sweet. I purposed to gulp life and appreciate everything around me.” Her recent work appears in Reflex Fiction, The Forge Literary Magazine, and Ellipsis Two.

Of the winning story and the runner up and finalists, Gordon Square Review editor-in-chief Laura Maylene Walter says, “We received many exciting entries for this contest, and we’re grateful to Northeast Ohio writers for sending such beautiful work our way. Ultimately, our editorial staff selected ‘Bees’ as the winner for the powerful way it conveys abstract concepts like grief, fear, and love through vivid, concrete detail. Melissa Warren manages to create a haunting, melancholy effect in a spare and layered story, all of which speaks to the strength of her writing. We selected ‘Tease’ as the runner-up because we loved its imagination, its subtle humor, and its strangeness. We’re so pleased to publish both ‘Bees’ and ‘Tease’ in Issue 2 of Gordon Square Review.”

Issue 2 of Gordon Square Review will feature poetry by Sara Ryan, Amy Williamson, Emily Ellison, Jalynn Harris, Amanda Stovicek, Donna Gary, and Roger Camp. Prose writers include Alysandra Dutton, Josie Turner, Stacie Williams, Yasmina Floyer, and Tara Isabel Zambrano. The Gordon Square Review Mentorships, in which Gordon Square Review editors worked with emerging writers to refine their pieces, were awarded to Steven Carey-Walton, Rose Driscoll, and Ijeoma Umebinyeo.

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