Staged Reading to Ignite Memories and Hope Inspired by the Infamous Cuyahoga River Fire

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Cleveland’s infamous Cuyahoga River Fire in 1969 triggered a lot of change, accelerating the environmental movement in Cleveland and around the U.S. On the 50th anniversary of the fire, 20 creative writers from Northeast Ohio will share their thoughts about that event, with their words performed by three professional actors at the 2019 Cleveland Humanities Festival.

This one-hour staged reading titled: “Words On Fire: A Remembrance of the Cuyahoga River Fire, 1969,” presented by Literary Cleveland, will be held on Saturday, March 16th and Sunday March 17th. The performances each night will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Cleveland State University’s Student Center Ballroom.

Lit Cleveland’s call for submissions garnered more than 100 poems, plays, personal essays, and short stories from writers across Northeast Ohio. The selected works–some urgent and some elegiac–explore various topics including climate change, Hurricane Harvey, humanity’s relationship with nature, California wildfires, the fate of native animals and plants, and some very personal reflections. 

The performances promise to be very involving. As director Chennelle Bryant-Harris says, “It’s a unique challenge to craft performances from diverse kinds of writing such as poetry and essay. We’re excited to share these resonant works because the range of emotions they touch on really express what it means to be a Clevelander.”

Christine Howey, Executive Director of Literary Cleveland also notes, “We are thankful to all the writers who shared their perspectives and insights with us, and look forward to collectively exploring a truly life-altering event for Cleveland and the nation.” 

This free event is made possible with the support of the Baker Nord Center for the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Humanities Festival, and Cleveland State University. Although there is no charge for the performance or the reception afterwards, there is a suggested donation of $10. All attendees are asked to register in advance for the event at: litcleveland.org/cleveland-humanities-fest-2019.html. The Cleveland State University Student Center is located at 2121 Euclid Avenue.

Literary Cleveland is a nonprofit organization committed to nurturing a vibrant literary arts community in Northeast Ohio. Find out more online at www.litcleveland.org. Contact: Christine Howey, Executive Director, Literary Cleveland, chowey@litcleveland.org.

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