Best Local Poets In Pittsburgh

April 30, 2011 7:05 AM

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When you think Pittsburgh, you might not think poetry. But in fact, Pittsburgh boasts one of the friendliest and most vibrant poetry communities in the United States. Whether they were born and raised here, or migrated here as adult writers, there are hundreds of poets who call Pittsburgh home. Here’s a handful we think are worth checking out.
english appstate edu Best Local Poets In Pittsburgh


Joseph Bathanti

You couldn’t find a truer Pittsburgh voice than Joseph Bathanti. He grew up in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood and his father worked at the Edgar Thomson Steel Works plant in Braddock. Much of Bathanti’s poetry reflects those deep Pittsburgh roots. He’s the author of six books of poetry, including Communion Partners, Anson County, The Feast of All Saints and This Metal. Bathanti’s prose is also worth a look. He’s written novels including East Liberty and Coventry, as well as a short story collection The High Heart. Bathanti currently teaches creative writing at Appalachian State University in North Carolina.

Jan Beatty

Jan Beatty is one of Pittsburgh’s most respected poets. She’s the head of Carlow University’s writing program, and she also directs a series of writing workshops called Madwomen in the Attic. Beatty has written several prize-winning collections including Red Sugar, Boneshaker and Mad River. She also hosts a public radio show on NPR affiliate, WYEP-FM in Pittsburgh.

Terrance Hayes

Though born and raised in South Carolina, Terrance Hayes now calls Pittsburgh his home. He’s on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University. Hayes is a prize-winning poet, having published four books of poetry and counting. His most recent works include Lighthead and Hip Logic.

Judith Vollmer

Judith Vollmer is a lifelong Pittsburgh resident. Like many others, you’ll also find Vollmer on staff at a local university, the University of Pittsburgh campus in Greensburg. She teaches poetry, specializing in nature writing and political poetry. Vollmer has published four books of poetry, including Reactor, Black Butterfly and The Door Open to the Fire.

Patricia Dobler

The late Patricia Dobler, known in the Pittsburgh poetry community as Pat, wasn’t born here, but she spent much of her writing life here. Dobler wrote at least four books of poetry, including UXB, Talking to Strangers and Forget Your Life. Before her death in 2004, Dobler also taught writing classes at Carlow University and directed its Women’s Creative Writing Center. Her final poetry book, Collected Poems, was published posthumously a year after her death.

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  • Billy Nardozzi


    It soothes the soul
    And it heals the heart
    And there’s just no better
    Place to start

    Reading the words
    That talk of life
    About the good and the bad
    And the pain and the strife

    And you can go right to
    Another world
    Where your thoughts become
    Totally unfurled

    Like a “magical journey”
    That you take in your mind
    That takes you into
    The “ever sublime”

    And you can make it whatever
    You want it to be
    Because ” that is the beauty”
    Of “Po-e-try”

    Billy Nardozzi

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