Pressed for ideas for great presents? Want to impress your literary friends and help the library at the same time? I have the perfect gift for you: a copy of Natural Language: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Sunday Poetry and Reading Series Anthology.
Earlier this year, CLP created Natural Language, which features work from local academic, experimental and spoken word Pittsburgh writers who have read in the series. Books are available for purchase for $10 each from a librarian in the New and Featured Department at CLP – Main. All proceeds from sales directly support the continuation of poetry programming at the Library.
The collection includes work from 30 of Pittsburgh’s best wordsmiths:
Nikki Allen, Madalon Amenta, Tess Barry, Margaret Bashaar, Jan Beatty, Deborah Bogen, CM Burroughs, Jay Carson, Kristofer Collins, Jerome Crooks, Jim Daniels, Toi Derricotte, Barbara Edelman, Che Elias, Angele Ellis, Jessica Fenlon, Rebecca Foust, Crystal Hoffman, Jason Irwin, Robert Isenberg, Marc Jampole, Dana Killmeyer, Sophie Klahr, Karen Lillis, Joseph Lyons, Sharon Fagan McDermott, Heather McNaugher, Judith R. Robinson, Richard St. John, Ed Steck, Michelle Stoner, Justin Vicari, Judith Vollmer, Stacey Waite and Michael Wurster.
The styles and topics of the work are as varied as the writers themselves. Pieces muse about music, literature and family, often with a distinctly Pittsburgh flavor. Here are some samples:
And their words climb the dusky green tendrils,
cluster like grapes. Words link to lines link like veins
in our animal bodies. There is wine in the glasses and streetlight
like glass in the wine. There are winds and the women’s hair
ruffles like feathers, winds and the jitter of kids in the street.
–Sharon Olds, “Door Open to the Ivy”
If you take the bridge you end up in Oakland or possibly the hereafter
It gets harder to tell the difference the more time we stay here.
–Kristofer Collins, “The Last Call”
Reacquainting myself with you and Huck Finn
turned out to be more than I bargained for truth
be told cross-dressing Huck excoriated me with his
rough tongue he flayed my white skin with the bite
of a rattlesnake’s mate and made a pretty good meal
of my remembering you took the tuck out of me
Sam Clemens I had to ask my mother if I’d read
the Disney version
–Tess Barry, “To Mark Twain on Lighting Out for the Territory”
The dressed-up trees made me laugh.
The deer may have been mildly amused.
Some of you might have some theory
about damaging the dignity of trees
though the trees seem okay with it,
based on my authority
as a random passerby.
–Jim Daniels, “Half-Baked Psalm, Schenley Park, Pittsburgh”
I love to see
the flowers tier out front–
crocus first, then
happy yellow daffs,
tulips, elegant ladies
too tall and cool to remain
–Judith Robinson, “Two Thousand Nine”
If you decide to get a copy, hurry! The anthology has been popular, and we have fewer than twenty copies left. But even after we sell the last book, the series will continue to thrive. You can still swing by the library to be inspired and entertained by fantastic writers at the Sunday Poetry and Reading Series. It occurs every third Sunday of the month as part of the Library’s Celebrate the Arts Sunday program series and is free to the public. View the 2011 schedule of upcoming readers here.