Literary series line up luminaries

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One thing can be said about the city's various literary series that start this month -- they have nothing in common.

For instance, the series presented by the University of Pittsburgh's English Department is heavy on poets, while the Heinz Lectures puts its money on novelists.

Carnegie Mellon's Adamson series shifts this season to an all-alumni lineup as the Pittsburgh Speakers Series shifts its focus to the right-wing for its well-paid lecturers.

Don't take my word for it. Have a look at the 2006-07 seasons:

Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers

All readings are at sites on the University of Pittsburgh's Oakland campus and are free.

Sept. 22: Cave Canem, a national literary organization for black poets, marks its 10th anniversary with a series of programs at Pitt.

Noon: Poets Duriel Harris, Dawn Lundy Martin and Ronald Wilson read at Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.
2 p.m.: Pitt's Toi Derricotte and Carnegie Mellon's Terrance Hayes join the University of Kentucky's Nikky Finney to discuss "Black Consciousness and Contemporary Poetry," 501 Cathedral of Learning.
7 p.m.: Poetry reading by Finney and Hayes, Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.
Oct. 4: South African poet Gabeba Baderoon, author of several award-winning collections, 501 Cathedral of Learning.

Oct. 18: Dan Chaon, author of the novels "I Remind Me of Me" and "Fitting Ends," Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.

Nov. 1: Todd James Pierce, 2006 Drue Heinz Prize winner for his story collection, "Newsworld," Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.

The following two author appearances are part of 412: Creative Nonfiction Literary Festival:

Nov. 10: H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger, former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter and author of "A Prayer for the City" and "Friday Night Lights," Alumni Hall Auditorium.

Nov. 11: Kathryn Harrison, novelist ("The Seal Wife") and memoirist ("A Mother's Knot"), Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.

March 22: Irish novelist Patrick McCabe ("Breakfast on Pluto") is the William Block Sr. Writer, Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.

April 4: Poets David St. John and Cole Swenson, part of Pitt's "Hybrid Vigor: American Poetry Out of School" conference, Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.

For more information: 412-624-6506.

Drue Heinz Lectures

Sept. 25: Christopher Buckley, master of lightweight satire and son of William F.

Oct. 9: Susan Orlean, longtime New Yorker writer who specializes in travel pieces such as "The Orchid Thief."

Oct. 23: Bill Bryson, humorist who made his mark writing as an American flummoxed by the British in such books as "The Mother Tongue."

Nov. 13: Jeff Shaara, historical novelist whose latest title is "The Rising Tide." His sister Lila, also a novelist, lives in Forest Hills.

Nov. 20: Jhumpa Lahiri, author of the novel "The Namesake." Lahiri has become a leading voice of Indian-American fiction.

Dec. 4: Jacques Pepin has put his name on 21 cookbooks in a lengthy career as chef and TV cooking show host.

Jan. 22: Alice Hoffman hits town just in time to plug her 19th novel, "Skylight Confessions," which will be released that month.

Feb. 5: Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon, the Gracie Allen and George Burns for the 21st century, offer their views as a literary couple.

Feb. 19: Colson Whitehead's second novel, "John Henry Days" (2001), marked him as a original new voice in American fiction, and he followed with "Apex Hides the Hurt" and "The Colossus of New York."

March 5: Michael Pollan, journalism professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of this year's best-selling "The Omnivore's Dilemma," a study of our food supply.

March 19: Deborah Tannen, a linguist at Georgetown University, recently published "You're Wearing That?" It's a look at mother-daughter language.

April 2: David Sedaris, memoirist, makes another visit to town.

The lectures are at 7:30 p.m. in the Carnegie Music Hall, Oakland. Tickets are $19; $8 for students. Subscription plans are offered as well. Call 412-622-8866.

Black, White and Read All Over

This is the children's author series produced by Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures.

Oct. 28: Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen are creators of the Magic School Bus science series.

Nov. 18: Jon Scieszka, who with illustrator Lane Smith, wrote the Time Warp Trio Series and "The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Stories." His new book, for readers 7 and older, is "Seen Art?"

Feb. 17: Illustrator Eric Rohmann, winner of the Caldecott Award for "My Friend Rabbit."

March 3: Vera B. Williams, writer and illustrator of award-winning children's books for many years.

March 24: Patricia C. McKissack, author of "Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters" and other books with African-American themes.

April 14: Brian Selznick, illustrator of biographies of Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt, Marian Anderson and Houdini.

Programs are in the Carnegie Library Lecture Hall, Oakland, at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $7. Subscription plans are offered as well. Call 412-622-8866.

Adamson Visiting Writers Series

Carnegie Mellon's Adamson Visiting Writers Series this season brings graduates back to town.

Oct. 18: Journalist and poet Shannon Gibney, poet Kevin Gonzales and poet Karen Rigby.

Nov. 2: Fiction writer and Washington University professor Marshall Klimasewiski.

Jan. 31: Novelist Sue Stauffacher.

Readings are at 8 p.m. in the Adamson Wing of Baker Hall on the CMU campus and are free. Call 412-268-2850.

Chatham College MFA Reading Series

The Shadyside-based liberal arts college inaugurated a program of author appearances this year.

Sept. 19: Mark Doty, major American poet whose latest book is the 2005 "School of the Arts."

Oct. 10: Poet Ann Fisher-Wirth.

Oct. 26: David Abram, author of "The Spell of the Sensuous."

Nov. 2: Poet Ada Limon.

Nov. 15: Performance poet Jim Coppoc.

Feb. 5: Novelist Paolo Corso, a Western Pennsylvania native.

March 7: Fiction writer William J. Cobb, who teaches English at Penn State University.

All readings will be at 8 p.m. at James Laughlin Music Center on campus. Details: 412-365-1190.

The Pittsburgh Speakers Series

This subscription-only program is sponsored by Robert Morris University and produced by the Cambridge Speakers Series, a California-based lecture bureau.

Sept. 27: Nora Ephron, film director, playwright and memoir writer.

Nov. 8: Apollo 13 astronaut James Lovell.

Dec. 6: Colin Powell, former secretary of state.

Jan. 31: Christiane Amanpour, CNN correspondent.

Feb. 28: Michael Medved, film critic and radio talk show host.

April 25: Ari Fleischer, former Bush White House press secretary.

All programs are at 8 p.m. at Heinz Hall, Downtown. Individual subscriptions are $420, $375 and $275. Call 412-392-4900.


Post-Gazette book editor Bob Hoover can be reached at bhoover@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1634.


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