Prepare for launch: Lit Cleveland's Gordon Square Review makes its debut

In just under three years, Literary Cleveland has launched the annual Cleveland Inkubator conference (which attracted 500 people in 2017), gained nonprofit status, and hosted a wide array of workshops, networking events, and author readings—all geared at empowering Northeast Ohio writers. This year, the organization also introduced a podcast, blog, and YouTube channel.

That momentum continues with the launch of Lit Cleveland's new literary journal, Gordon Square Review. The online-only journal will be published bi-annually, and its debut edition features 10 poems and eight prose pieces, representing writers from Northeast Ohio and beyond.

“It’s a great way to make a journal accessible to local writers and not just those who are regularly published in other journals,” says editor Laura Maylene Walter. “We are finding ways to include a diverse spectrum of local writers, as well as open it up to people everywhere.”

Laura Maylene WalterWalter calls the journal a natural outgrowth of Lit Cleveland’s mission to elevate local writers and foster the literary community. Executive director Lee Chilcote (also former editor of Fresh Water) approached Walter last year about helming the project, since the former Mid-American Review fiction editor brings "experience both editing journals and submitting to them."

Of course, with more than 800 submissions, making final selections for the inaugural issue of Gordon Square Review proved a challenging task.

“I wasn’t surprised (by the number of submissions), but I was pleased,” Walter says. “It was a lot of work, but we found it really enjoyable—and often really enlightening. I think we surprised ourselves with some of the pieces we selected.”

In addition to pieces from the general submission pool, the debut issue features the winning entries from a contest for local writers. The winning writers, Mimi Plevin-Foust (poetry) and Shannon Ready (prose) each received a $250 prize, plus a voucher for a free Literary Cleveland workshop.

Each issue of Gordon Square Review will also feature two pieces that win an editorial mentorship, in which the editors work with contributors to revise and improve their writing. Walter says she is not aware of any other literary journal offering a similar program for aspiring writers.

“We picked two pieces that were almost there, but not quite,” says Walter. “[With] the one I picked, the author had never submitted to a journal before. This is an avenue we have to help develop writers and fits right in with the goals of Literary Cleveland.”

The entire issue will be available online free of charge, as Lit Cleveland strives to make the content accessible to all. Says Walter, “We want people to be able to share their pieces on social media, and spread them around the world.”

Lit Cleveland will celebrate the Gordon Square Review launch with a party at the Happy Dog West this Thursday, Nov. 9, at 6:30 p.m. Admission to the launch party is $8, or two for $15 (and free to Lit Cleveland members). All proceeds will benefit Gordon Square Review. The event will feature readings from contributors to the first issue, as well as the opportunity to mingle with the writers and editors.  The Happy Dog is located at 5801 Detroit Avenue.

Read more articles by Leslie Basalla-McCafferty.

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