Acclaimed poet Manuel Iris speaks at Lit Youngstown’s Writer-in-Residence Series in Lowellville

LOWELLVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) — A renowned poet spoke Saturday in Lowellville as part of Lit Youngstown’s Writer-in-Residence series.

The Hispanic community gathered for a day of writing workshops and discussions at the Community Literacy Workforce and Cultural Center in Lowellville.

Various Hispanic restaurants donated food for the event. There were also live music and writing workshops.

Cincinnati poet Manuel Iris held several writing workshops for young people on Friday and Saturday and spoke with dozens of elementary school children the day before.

He said it was important to him to encourage young people to communicate well and be creative.

“They will be adults one day, and they will make decisions, and if we help them now, and nurture them with love for others, hopefully we will have a more loving society,” Iris said.

Manuel said that for him the event is more than poetry – it is about bringing the community together after two years of isolation and separation.

“Poetry could also help us heal from all that has happened. There has been in the world, and it is still there, a lot of dismemberment of communities. There is so much hate. There is so much misunderstanding. There is so much fear, and poetry is the exact opposite,” Iris said.

He also led a workshop on writing and translating different languages.

Lit Youngstown coordinator Cassandra Lawton emphasized the importance of bringing different cultures together through art.

“There are so many really wonderful community members, writers, people who love literature here, and we just want to provide this space for them and for everyone who comes together to celebrate it,” Lawton said.

Lit Youngstown plans to host several more writer-in-residence events throughout the summer, made possible with funding from the Ohio Arts Council and a Robb Briggs and Alyssa Lenhoff-Briggs grant.