AKRON — With more people reading local lit and plenty of local art festivals promoting local creations, support for local writers, poets, and literary artists is growing.
While this is just the tip of the iceberg, allow us to introduce you to five of our favorite Akronian writers so you can get to know them. While having different focuses and styles, these writers have been featured in various journals, magazines and received awards for their work in the literary world and beyond.
Writer, editor, and professor at the University of Akron, Mary Biddinger, appeared in the Court Green, Poetry, and Sugar House Review. Biddinger also received the mid-career Cleveland Arts Prize in Literature in 2019. Most of her works are focused on women writers, contemporary poetry, and world literature. Her most recent work is called Partial Genius: Prose Poems, published in 2019.
Before being a best-selling author, Thirty Umrigar was a journalist for seventeen years and has written for the Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Thrity Umrigar was born in India and moved to the U.S when she was 21. Now she’s an English professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. She mostly wrote her best-selling books with India as their setting. She was also a recipient of the Cleveland Arts Prize in 2009, and she released her newest novel in January 2021, titled ‘Honor’.
A poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Colombus, Ohio, Hanif Abdurraqib has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and other journals. In 2017, he released his first essay collection titled ‘They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us’ and was named book of the year by Buzzfeed, Esquire, NPR, Oprah Magazine, Paste, CBC, The Los Angeles Review, Pitchfork, and The Chicago Tribune. In 2019, he became a New York Times Bestseller with his book titled Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest. His newest book, titled ‘A Little Devil in America’, was released this year.
Winner of the 2015 Cleveland Arts Prize, Dr. Mary E. Weems is an author, poet, playwright, and social/culture foundation scholar. Her works are mostly based on what is happening in the Black Community and discussed the issue of race, gender and class. She has been publishing plays since 1997. Her recent work was published in 2019 titled ‘At Last’.
Holly Christensen is a columnist from the Akron Beacon Journal and a second-place winner for the All Ohio Excellence in Journalism Award. Her winning article was featured in the lifestyle section in all Ohio daily newspaper titled ‘Sexual assault denies the humanity of women’. She is currently working on her memoir titled ‘Becoming the Mother I Wanted’.