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By Susan Constanse

Whether you like to read, hear, discuss or write, Pittsburgh has a lot to offer on the reading and writing scene. Pittsburgh is home to small presses, like Autumn House Press and Pear Noir as well as regular series of readings and workshops. Pittsburgh literati are active throughout the year, hosting readings, workshops, tours and fairs. Check out some of the great literary events happening in November.

Bridges to Other Worlds: the Future of the Essay

Presented by Autumn House Press
November 3-5, 2011
Chatham University
Woodland Road

Autumn House Press will be hosting a festival on the future of the essay this month. The three-day event begins on November 3 and will take place on Chatham University campus. The festival will feature readings, panels and small seminar discussions with some of the major writers of the essay form. Some of the writers that will be on hand for the festival include Faith Adiele, John Balaban, Barbara Hurd, Philip Lopate, Dinty Moore, and Michele Morano.

Panel discussions on Travel Writing, Memoir Writing and Nature Writing, as well as small seminars, will be held with the festival’s guest writers. Celebrated poet Phillip Lopate will be the keynote speaker, and the poet and translator from the Vietnamese, John Balaban, will read from his Vietnamese translations.
Autumn House Press will also be launching Between Song and Story: Essays for the Twenty-first Century, edited by Margaret L. Whitford and Sheryl St. Germain. The launch will feature readings from the book. For information, email Sheryl St Germain at sstgermain@chatham.edu.

Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange Workshop

Panera Bread (Centre Ave, Shadyside)
5430 Centre Avenue
November 7, 2011: 6:30 – 9 pm

The Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange was founded in 1974 in support of local poets. Over the many years, they have conducted workshops and readings, responding to the local community, and doing their part to increase the appreciation of poetry.

If you already have something in the works yourself, the Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange Workshop is a great event to get some feedback. Everybody, no matter what your level of experience, is welcome to bring their work for a group response. Bring about twenty copies of your work, but please note that you might not get the opportunity to present until your second meeting. The workshops are held the first Monday of each month.

Pittsburgh poet Michael Wurster moderates the workshop. Mr. Wurster has championed poetry in Pittsburgh for over 30 years, teaching, advising, and conducting the Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange Workshop.

Cyberpunk Apocalypse: Cool Off

Cool Off
November 12, 2011: 7 – 9:30PM
Cyberpunk Apocalypse Writers’ Co-Op
5431 Carnegie Street
$2-4 donation

The Cool Off at Cyberpunk Apocalypse is just a really fun event. Not strictly limited to the literary forms, you never know what you’ll hear, or see. It might be a reading from a work in progress, the first press of a self-published, and sometimes self-printed, ‘zine or comic book. Presenters have brought software that they are developing and pictures of giant sculpture projects. The Cool Off welcomes all exploration, their only criteria is creativity. At the end of the night, the audience votes on the coolest project, and the winner receives a homemade trophy and half the door money. Cool off is held the second Saturday of the month, at the Cyberpunk Apocalypse headquarters, located in Lawrenceville.

TNY Presents

Michelle Stoner and Elizabeth Hoover
November 17, 2011: 8PM
Modern Formations
4919 Penn Avenue
$5 or Potluck

The New Yinzer, one of Pittsburgh’s many independent presses, has been producing literary events, anthologies and an online magazine for several years, including the TNY Presents series. One of their early efforts was Pittsburgh Love Stories, an anthology of short stories by local established and emerging writers. TNY Presents… is a seasonal reading series, conducted on the third Thursday of each month at ModernFormations.

The event is relaxed, with plenty of conversation between guest readers and the audience. You can bring a covered dish in lieu of the $5 door; who doesn’t like to nosh and talk? The series is emceed by Pittsburgh writer Holly Coleman, and usually hosts at least two readers each month. Poets Michelle Stoner, Renee Alberts and Elizabeth Hoover will be reading in November.

Sunday Poetry & Reading Series

Sunday Poetry and Reading Series: Anne Rashid
November 20, 2011: 2-3PM
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main (Oakland)
4400 Forbes Ave

What better setting for listening to poetry than Carnegie Library’s first floor reading room? Conducted on the third Sunday of each month, the library presents readings by Pittsburgh authors. The series began in 2007, and has hosted experimental, spoken word and academic writers. In 2010, the Carnegie Library published Natural Language: Sunday Poetry Anthology. This fine collection catalogs the works of forty Pittsburgh poets, including Karen Lillis Stacey Waite, Barbara Edelman and Michael Wurster.

This month, the Sunday Poetry & Reading Series hosts Anne Rashid, an assistant professor of English at Carlow University. Ms. Rashid has published poetry in Adagio Verse Quarterly; Lit Candles: Feminist Mentoring and the Text; and The Metro Times.

Release!: Live Open Mic.

Release! Open Mic /Stage
Every Tuesday night (except the third Tuesday): 9PM
Shadow Lounge
5972 Baum Blvd

If you’re looking to get some time in front of the microphone, the Release! Event might be good choice. Leslie Ezra Smith is the emcee, and brings a mixed evening of poetry, hip-hop and soul music to the Shadow Lounge on most Tuesday evenings.

Susan Constanse is a painter, living and working in Pittsburgh. Examples of her work can be viewed on her site, at http://www.susanconstanse.com

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