Cleveland author gives back to youth writers


“When I came up, it was a different world,” said 50 year old, Carl E. Fortson, who grew up in Cleveland and graduated from John High School.

Carl E. Fortson

The way he sees it, children are failing at reading and writing. Graduation rates are low. And, the computer forces everyone to move too fast. “If we educate children, we wouldn’t have these problems,” he continued.


Being a published author, considering himself very fortunate, he wants to do his part by hosting a essay writing contest for Cleveland area youth ages 12-17 years old.

“I’m telling them, ‘Write your best essay. Take Carl’s money. I’m happy to give it to you,” he said, thinking this effort will encourage students to read and write more.

Fortson, himself, started writing seven years ago when he decided to quit drinking. He said it provided therapy as he avoided going to bars. “Writing helped me changed from an alcoholic mindset to normal,” he said.

That writing led him to publishing a collection of poems titled, “Just Sayin,” in Dec. 2016. About 106 to be exact, the poems explore philosophy, Biblical experience, life experience, and some Black history. It is available every where books are sold including Loganberry Bookstore on Larchmere in Cleveland.

Looking back, Fortson traces his interest in writing to 4th grade. “I did good in vocabulary. It started at a young age.” By 10th grade he started rapping but went into manufacturing upon completing high school. For 22 years, he worked as forklift driver.

And, now being an author, poet and speaker, a lot of opportunities are opening up for him. He’s been an extra in movies on Voice It Radio with Chuck Conway Jr.  According to Fortson, it’s been a wonderful experience that inspires him to be a part the solution than the problem.

The low graduation rates in Cleveland troubles him most.

With that, he started the Develop Future Leaders Organization – designed to fill a void in community by encouraging young people to read, write and comprehend. Fortson advocates for every child to read at least 20 minutes a day. “I want to teach them the principles of success, want to get them focused on school,” he said.

The essay contest is a program of the Develop Future Leaders Organization. “It’s all about promoting literacy in our area,” said Fortson. “Maybe it can help the average or below average student do better.”

Everyone who enters the essay contest will receive a certificate. Winners of the essay contest will win cash prizes: $250 (first), $100 (second), $75 (third), and $50 (fourth). Deadline for entries is by March 1, 2017. Judging will be held at East Cleveland Public Library on March 11, 2017 from 2 to 5 p.m. More information can be found at

“I’m spending own money to help in the community. It’s so much bad,” said Fortson. “I’m trying to do something positive. I hope people can feed into it.”  




Join Cleveland authors for an event highlighting Black literature in Cleveland

Our founder Rhonda Crowder, author of the recently released novel Riddles, is honored to be among “The Black Pen” featured authors at Mac’s Backs Books in Cleveland Heights, Ohio this upcoming Sat.

Not only is it her first appearance as a published author, Crowder has known organizer Brendan Whitt since he interned under her at the Call and Post Newspaper during his senior year at Horizon Science Academy. And, she’s followed award-winning author Everett Prewitt’s career as a journalist.

Whitt is now a graduate student in the Masters of Arts in creative writing program at Cleveland State University, where he also completed his undergraduate studies. Organizing a reading has always been one of Whitt’s goals since becoming an author.

“I am very proud of Brendan and all he’s accomplished as a young man,” said Crowder. “He published a book before me! It’s been a pleasure watching him develop as a writer and author. I’m flattered that he thought enough to call upon me for his first event.”

Crowder and Whitt along with  Prewitt is sure to bring forth a lively discussion as they read excerpts from their works and talk about their journey as writers. Representing three different generations, the range of experience between these authors is expansion.

If you’re in the Cleveland area, be sure to join them.

Feb 25th reading poster.jpg

Opportunities in Construction Information Series kicks off in Maple Heights

Come out to learn what career and entrepreneurship opportunities available in Northeast Ohio construction and skilled trades industry for men and women. Industry insiders will be on site. Visit to learn more.