About the Project

Neighborhood Voices is a city-wide creative writing project designed by Literary Cleveland and the Cleveland Public Library to engage writers across Cleveland, allowing residents to connect with neighbors, share stories of their community, and draft new writing about what makes their neighborhood unique.

Between June and July 2020, free writing workshops were held online via Zoom (due to COVID-19) in six different regions of the city with each workshop facilitated by a different teaching artist: Darlene Montonaro, Philip Metres, Jason Harris, me (D.L. Ware), Vince Robinson, Stephanie Ginese. At the end of the summer, we received submissions from more than 80 residents all across the city and collected their poems, essays and memoirs into this anthology showcasing the vibrant lives and voices in Cleveland neighborhoods.

In the website that follows, you will find the selected submissions of the literary artist that stayed true to form, where their words and phrases add texture and history to an already written Cleveland landscape. These writers and poets selflessly share themselves in the telling of their triumphs, tragedies and the moments they remember as Clevelanders.


Edited by D.L. Ware

“We sing the song of Cleveland as the voices of this chorus, and as a community of writers we celebrate the very things that make us strong, worthy and unique, through technique, genre and imagination. And as your composers we leave small ambitious pieces of ourselves here in, laid out to be read and referred to forever, as representatives of what makes this city so great.”

Cleveland writes itself in a universal language, breaking down the barriers, the gaps, the dissolution about who we are and what it means to be a proud Clevelander. Read how the differences that surround us transform into the complexities of our diverse city. Hear how the words written, give context to the beauty of Tremont, the history of St. Clair and the creativity of Gordon Square. Reflect upon the better days, as our essays and memoirs connect us all, in examining what has happened to Glennville?

What is going on in Mt. Pleasant, on Miles and Union? Feel the humor and the elegant poetic verses with its chiseled stanzas bring attention and awareness to the challenges and the dangers that lurk in Detroit Shoreway, on Kinsman and around Downtown. Participate in the unearthing of the lesser known histories, facts and explore the found inspirations of Buckeye, Larchmere, 55th as it reminds us how the old and the new are interconnected.

About D.L. Ware

A community based poet and writer, D.L. Ware is a literacy advocate and literary artist in Southeast Cleveland's Buckeye, Woodland Hills, and Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods. He has a Masters of English with a concentration in poetry from CSU. Since 2010, D.L. Ware has used his love for the literary arts as means to bring communities together. In 2015 D.L. was commissioned by Land Studio to create "Love Lunes Over Buckeye," a literary place making project that displays "Lune Poetry" on the facade of vacant buildings along Buckeye road's upper corridor.

 In 2016 he was also commissioned by the Cleveland Sewer District to create "Ode to Lake Erie," a calligram poem that will be inlaid into the ground of the Sewer District's "Buckeye Green Infrastructure" project. In 2018 D.L. developed and led a weekly creative writing workshop called "Veterans' Voices," a 9-week creative writing workshop designed to encourage and support US Military Veterans to write and share their military experiences as a community. Husband and father of 3 boys, D.L. finds the act of writing to be healthy and therapeutic and makes time to write daily.

Our Instructors


Jason Harris

Harris is an educator, writer, and Watering Hole Fellow. He is the 2020-2021 Barbara Smith Writer-in-Residence. His first full-length collection of poems is forthcoming from Twelve Arts Press. Read more of his work at jasonharriswriter.com.


Philip Metres

Philip Metres has written ten books, including Shrapnel Maps (Copper Canyon 2020), Sand Opera, and The Sound of Listening. Awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lannan Fellowship, three Arab American Book Awards, and two NEAs, he is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University.


Darlene Montonaro

Darlene Montonaro is the former Executive Director of the Poets and Writers League / The Lit and a writing teacher with over 30 years of experience. She is also a poet whose work has appeared in a variety of literary magazines including Calyx, Slipstream, Visions International, Poetry Motel, Abraxas, and The Buddhist Poetry Review. Four of her poems were also anthologized in the book Illness & Grace: Terror & Transformation, published by Wising Up Press.


Vince Robinson

Vince Robinson is a multi-genre artist, having given time to evolving in music, the visual imagery of photography and the magic of words in poem and song. In addition to poetry, Vince has written for several publications beginning with The Spectrum at KSU to Eschelon Magazine and Crusader Arts and Entertainment. He is currently a writer for the East Side Daily News in Cleveland, Ohio and is a contributor to CAN Journal.


Stephanie Ginese

Stephanie Ginese (she/her) is a first generation Puerto Rican-Italian writer & poet living in Cleveland, OH with her two sons. She is the Director of Special Programs for Twelve Literary Arts. She has been published across platforms & publications nationally. When Stephanie isn’t writing, working, or raising; she can be found summoning wisdom through tarot, co-hosting The Fallen Fruit Podcast, finding any excuse to dance, or plotting ways to dismantle the system.


Neighborhood Voices is a city-wide creative writing project designed by Literary Cleveland and the Cleveland Public Library to engage writers across Cleveland, allowing residents to connect with neighbors, share stories of their community, and draft new writing about what makes their neighborhood unique.


Cleveland Public Library
325 Superior Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44114

Project Created By Literary Cleveland

Literary Cleveland is a nonprofit organization and creative writing center that empowers people to explore other voices and discover their own. Through an expanding roster of multi-level classes, workshops and events, Literary Cleveland assists writers and readers at all stages of development, promotes new and existing literature of the highest quality, and advances Northeast Ohio as a vital center of diverse voices and visions.

Project Presented with Support By the Cleveland Public Library

Founded in 1869, Cleveland Public Library serves the residents of Cleveland through its network of 27 neighborhood branches, the Main Library downtown, Public Administration Library at City Hall, homebound delivery services, and mobile services to daycare and senior centers. From a collection of 10.5 million items, the Library lends over 5 million items a year to its 330,000 registered borrowers and to 43 other CLEVNET-member libraries in 12 counties across Northeast Ohio. Cleveland Public Library is home to the Ohio Center for the Book and the Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled, serving all 88 counties in the state of Ohio. For more information, visit cpl.org.