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Check in for Drafts 2019 starts at 1:00pm on October 12th at Loganberry Books! The festival kicks off with a conversation between local writers, activists, and organizers at 1:30pm. 


This year's opening panel will focus on the question: 

"How does a community support writers from diverse 

backgrounds at every stage of their career?"

Cleveland Drafts 2018 panel. Photo by Hilary Bovay.

 2019 Panelists


Moderator, Noelle Celeste

Noelle Celeste has spent 30 years exploring the nonprofit world. Her love of a good learning curve has had her working in everything from multimedia to public media and from political campaigns to local publishing. She kicked off her return to hometown as MOCA’s marketing director, then moved to ideastream, and eventually went solo for a decade as an independent consultant working with dozens of organizations including the Cleveland Foundation, the Cleveland International Film Festival, Civic Commons, SPACES, and Hathaway Brown, just to name a few. She’s helped launch new projects like Summer on the Cuyahoga and Cleveland Colectivo, and was the founding publisher of Edible Cleveland. Noelle is a Cleveland public schools graduate and has a B.A in American Studies with a concentration in Media and the Arts from Yale University. She currently dedicates her talents to The City Club of Cleveland and lives in Cleveland Heights with her husband, two kids, and two dogs.

Opening Performance, Noam Dorr

Noam Dorr is the author of Love Drones (Sarabande Books), which was recently featured in Poets & Writers Magazine as one of the best debut nonfiction books of 2019. His work has appeared in Gulf Coast, Seneca Review, Passages North, and other places. His essay, "Love Drones," won the Gulf Coast Essay Prize and was a notable essay in the Best American Essays 2016. Born and raised in Kibbutz Givat Haim, Israel, he is a former Fulbright scholar and received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. Dorr is currently a doctoral candidate in the Literature and Creative Writing Ph.D. program at the University of Utah and the International Essayists Columnist at Essay Daily.

Panelist, Daniel Gray-Kontar

Daniel Gray-Kontar is a poet, teacher, youth mentor, rapper, journalist, and education activist. He has worked as an advocate for social transformation in the city of Cleveland for more than 25 years. Gray-Kontar is an education consultant for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; writer-in-residence at MOCA Cleveland; the former chair of the Literary Arts Department at the Cleveland School of the Arts; and a former graduate school fellow at UC Berkeley's College of Education. His work in arts education has been showcased on PBS Newshour. Gray-Kontar has lectured at universities, public schools, arts organizations and scholarly conferences across the US. His Ted Talk discussing youth leadership in public school education has affected the ways public school administrators think about the inclusion of youth and their families in the process of re-making school cultures and curricula.

Panelist, Noor Hindi

Noor Hindi (she/her) is a Palestinian-American poet who is currently pursuing her MFA in poetry through the NEOMFA program. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Rumpus, Winter Tangerine, Tinderbox Poetry, and Cosmonauts Avenue. Her essays have appeared in or are forthcoming in Literary Hub and American Poetry Review. Hindi is a Senior Reporter for The Devil Strip Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @MyNrhindi, or visit her website at


Panelist, Christine Howey

Christine Howey is the executive director of Literary Cleveland. She was the Poet Laureate of Cleveland Heights, Ohio from 2016-2018., and has had four chapbooks of poetry published. Christine has also been a stage actor, director, and theater critic. Her one-person stage play of poetry about her transgender journey, Exact Change, was performed at Cleveland Public Theatre, Playhouse Square and the New York International Fringe Festival. It has recently been turned into a feature film.

Panelist, Zachary Thomas 

Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Zachary Thomas graduated from John Carroll University in 2018. He studied creative writing and professional writing, and literature, which complements his background as one of the founders and program director of Writers in Residence, an organization that teaches creative writing to youth who are incarcerated in jails and prisons across Ohio. As an Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards Fellow, he had the opportunity to expand and develop cohorts at Oberlin College, Hiram College, College of Wooster, and Youngstown State University. Zach was recently one of the inaugural residents of the Baldwin House Residency with Twelve Literary Arts, which gave him the space and time to continue his writing outside of an academic setting surrounded by young prolific writers of color in northeast Ohio.

Panelist, Catherine Wing

Catherine Wing is the author of two collections of poetry, Enter Invisible and Gin & Bleach. Her poems have been published in such journals as Poetry, The Nation, and Tin House, featured on The Writer's Almanac, and included in Best American Erotic Poems and Best American Poetry. She teaches at Kent State University and is currently serving as the Director of the NEOMFA, the nation’s only consortial program in Creative Writing.

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