Prizm News / April 9, 2019 / By Ken Schneck

The largest gathering of queer readers Northeast Ohio has seen in years is about to take the mic in Cleveland.

By Ken Schneck

If a queer writer pens something in the woods and the literary world isn’t around to hear it, does it make a sound?

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Probably not.

Good thing The Queer Community Read is here to create an opportunity to turn up the wattage on writerly voices in the Cleveland area.

Billed as the “largest gathering of queer readers northeast Ohio has seen in years,” the evening features a collection of over a dozen queer poets, storytellers, and spoken word performers. Whereas the spotlight is often trained on our drag, burlesque, music, and theatre siblings, this showcase will be an opportunity for queer writers and readers to take center stage.

“There have been other small queer focused readings in Cleveland, but I just haven’t seen a night that’s really focused on expressing the breadth of talent contained in our queer community,” says Elaine Schleiffer, the organizer of the event. “Queer writers, readers, and storytellers don’t have the same bandwidth as other entertainers, so this is a chance for them to be heard.”

The idea for the Queer Community Read came to Schleiffer in 2018 when she attended a Cleveland literary event featuring various queer poets. Though it was a welcome change to see LGBTQ writers behind the mic, the event didn’t represent as wide a range of writers as Cleveland actually sports.

“It was a lot of millennials reading and they were great, but it didn’t feel representative of the community at large,” remembers Schleiffer. “Me being who I am, I just said, Fine, I’ll put something together.”

The evening promises to be a memorable one with words leaping off the page into the audience’s ears. For her part, Schleiffer hopes that a lot of those ears belong to queers.

“I hope people feel seen and appreciate that there are more queer readers out there than gay white guys,” says Schleiffer. “There is a diversity in this work and we’re looking to create an atmosphere where everyone in attendance leaves feeling supported in their own creative endeavors.”

The Queer Community Read will be held on Wednesday, April 17 at 7pm at St. John’s Episcopal Church (2600 Church Ave in Cleveland). Admission is free.

Event organizer Elaine Schleiffer previewed three of the many amazing talented voices that will be on display at The Queer Community Read.

“John Burroughs is the editor and publisher of Crisis Chronicles Press which has done so much to support local artists. He was just named 2019 Ohio Beat Poet Laureate and doesn’t read himself very frequently in the Cleveland area, so this will be a real treat.”

“Lou Barrett is the founder Purpled Palm Pressand the creator of Let It Out, a Cleveland storytelling show. They are all about promoting queer voices in print and featuring queer stories in their show, so this will be a great extension of that dedicated work.”

“Eris Eady is a big name for us. So many people in Cleveland know her as a passionate queer organizer. But she also does incredible storytelling work with reentry communities and is herself a powerful spoken word performer. She puts forth a very touching narrative detailing the complexities of living in her intersectionality that people will not want to miss.”

Staley Jophiel Munroe
Staley Munroe is the creative director of Prizm. A Columbus native, Staley's career spans from NY to LA, working as a photographer, art director, and coordinator within the creative/fashion industries. Limited Brands, Hollywood film sets, New York Fashion Week, and several magazines have trusted her instincts for impactful visualization. As a proud, resilient transgender woman, Staley vigorously fights for equality and is a frequent speaker with the intent to increase awareness and understanding of transgender life.