Northeast Ohio essential workers on the frontlines of the pandemic.

About Voices from the Edge

Since March of 2020, frontline workers have been putting their lives at risk to ensure our communities have access to food, deliveries, health care, emergency medicine, other essential services. However, few have been given a chance to reflect on the past year of the pandemic or to share what it is like to live on the edge of history.

From April-May 2021, Literary Cleveland offered free workshops to allow Northeast Ohio essential workers to process their experiences, connect with other frontline workers, and craft their writing. The poetry and prose they created tells their stories in their own voices and transforms our understanding of the challenges they faced during the pandemic, the challenges they still face today. Literary Cleveland is proud to present Voices from the Edge.

Learn more and get involved

According to a 2021 report from Policy Matters Ohio and Essential Ohio, “three out of every 10 working Ohioans perform essential jobs that keep our communities safe and functioning,” and yet “essential workers’ median pay is 12.9% less than that of workers in nonessential jobs. Meanwhile, essential workers’ risk of contracting COVID-19 and bringing it home is far greater.”

Help advocate for better pay and safer conditions essential workers by learning about the Northeast Ohio Worker Bill of Rights and joining the Northeast Ohio Worker Center.

Thank You

Voices from the Edge is made possible through the generous support of the Andrews Foundation, the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, the Cleveland Foundation, and Neighbor Up.  

Program partners include the Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, Greater Cleveland Nurses Association, Cleveland Emergency Medical Services, Cleveland Division of Firefighters, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Agency, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, and Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.  

Special thanks to project coordinator Christopher Johnston, to workshop instructors Lisa Langford, Vince Robinson, and Logan Smith, to copyeditor Karen Lohman, to designers at Each+Every, and to Christine Howey and Matt Weinkam for creating and developing the program.