Featured Authors: “Fallen City Writers”

Featured Authors: “Fallen City Writers”

“Every city has writers’ groups. Christine Darin talks with several participants in one Mahoning Valley workshop that’s been meeting for more than 30 years.

Interview by Christine Darin

Interview: Fallen City Writers

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Featured Poem: “Vernal Equinox” – Doug Wiesen

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(It’s really amazing to see the fervor here artistically that’s going on. It’s usually during times of depression that art flourishes.  And to see all the people writing. I made a joke one time that since the steel mills closed everybody became a poet.)

That’s Peter Kautsky. He’s a member of the Fallen City Writer’s Workshop, the longest-lived writers group in Youngstown. He thinks economic troubles spark creativity.

One of the writers, Laura Woodward says during times of strife, art prevails.

(When you don’t have anything else, you do have art. I mean, art is cheap. Art is accessible. And art comes out of struggle, strife, pain, anguish, disillusionment.)

Many things in life inspire writers. Woodward says her inner thoughts and questions inspire her poetry and short fiction essays.

(The questions that we ask ourselves. You know, who are we? Why are we here? How can we be better people?)

 Fallen City writer Susan Wojnar writes to express her life with a mental illness.

(I’m focused these days on exploring through writing through prose and poetry different aspects of my experiences with schizophrenia.)

The Fallen City Workshop meets once a month at Café Cimmento in downtown Youngstown. Professionals, teachers and retirees make up the six to 20 people who bring works for the others to critique. Members write fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Anyone is welcome to attend.

More than 30 published books feature writers from Fallen City. The most recent is Doug Wiesen, who self-published a short fictional novel called Daymoon.

Wiesen attends meetings for critiques of his work.

(I love their feedback. I love talking about writing.)

Wiesen writes to answer questions in life.

(To me to be able to put it down into words is highly fulfilling and that’s sort of what inspires me. I keep hoping that my next page will be better than the page I just wrote.)

Dorothea Polite has been part of Fallen City since its birth in the late 70s when the workshop had a different name.

(It used to be called ‘Will it Fly?’. And so what used to happen is if your writing didn’t fly or wasn’t up to specs or whatever, we would make a paper airplane out of it and throw it across the room.)

Dorothea’s late husband and Fallen City founder, Frank Polite, still inspires group members who knew him. They remember Frank for his teaching abilities and blunt criticism.

Bill Koch remembers his friend.

(Frank was great because he had a lot of passion. I loved his name because Frank Polite is an oxymoron. You can’t be frank and polite at the same time.)

 Dorothea Polite says artistic creativity isn’t a choice, but rather a necessity for people to express themselves and have a voice.

(Artists have a way of cutting through the expected. They’re not afraid to be the pioneers. Some people want to follow the rules and follow what society expects; artists don’t care about that.)

Reporting for The Jenny Magazine, I’m Christine Darin.

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