Literary Cleveland announced Voices from the Edge, a free online writing program designed to give essential workers in Northeast Ohio the opportunity to process their experiences of the pandemic through writing and share their stories with the public.


Since March of 2020, essential workers have been putting their health at risk to ensure our communities have access to food, deliveries, health care and other essential services. However, few have been given a chance to reflect on the past year of the pandemic or to share what it is like to live on the edge of history.


Beginning in April, Literary Cleveland will offer free eight-week online writing workshops for essential workers in Northeast Ohio. Participants will engage with writing, connect with other frontline workers, and learn to craft their individual stories. Workshops are offered at a variety of days and times to accommodate different work schedules. Participants will receive an honorarium, and all attendees will be informed about Northeast Ohio financial, mental health, food, and family support services and programs available to them as essential workers.


In the fall, participant writing will be collected and published in an online anthology, presented in a variety of public readings, and distributed in news stories amplified by Literary Cleveland’s media partners to re-engage the public with the individual stories of these workers and transform our understanding of the challenges they face.


Program partners include the Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, Greater Cleveland Nurses Association, Cleveland Emergency Medical Services, Cleveland Division of Firefighters, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Agency, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, and Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. This program is made possible through the generous support of the Cleveland Foundation.


Literary Cleveland Executive Director Matt Weinkam said, “Many essential workers were already in a precarious position before the pandemic—underpaid, unrepresented, replaceable—and now they have been forced to risk their lives for work that often pays below a living wage and provides little or no health benefits. Now that we approach the one-year anniversary of Ohio’s stay-at-home order, these workers don’t need more empty praise about their heroism, they need the public to hear their full story told in their own words. Voices from the Edge is designed to give them that platform.”


Essential workers interested in participating can learn more and apply to join the workshops here.

Literary Cleveland is a nonprofit organization and creative writing center that empowers people to explore other voices and discover their own. Through an expanding roster of multi-level classes, workshops and events, Literary Cleveland assists writers and readers at all stages of development, promotes new and existing literature of the highest quality, and advances Northeast Ohio as a vital center of diverse voices and visions.