The Rev. Janet Edwards, front, will kick off the new season of American Shorts @ WYEP.
By Bob Hoover Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Gist Street Reading Series, a long-standing feature in Uptown, provided the literary element to Saturday's festival boosting the neighborhood.
Spearheaded by Leadership Pittsburgh, the festival blended artwork, food, music, drama, open houses and community organizations with the reading series.
Uptown's boundaries are loosely defined as the area from Mercy Hospital to the Birmingham Bridge between Fifth Avenue and the Boulevard of Allies.
Reading, with interpreters for the deaf at the Pittsburgh Association for the Deaf on Fifth Avenue, were poet Terrance Hayes and short-story writer Cathy Day.
Watching Heather Gray sign and act out Hayes' fast-paced and lyrically tight verse added a new dimension to a poetry reading.
Hayes, a professor of creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University, will publish his fourth poetry collection, "Light Head," next winter from Penguin Press.
Day teaches fiction and nonfiction writing at the University of Pittsburgh. Her books are "The Circus in Winter" and "Comeback Season."
The festival was also the venue for the premiere of "What Haven't Ya Heard?", a one-act musical play written by Bob Marion, Jeff Michel and Rick Schweikert of Viaduct Studio. The setting was the side yard of James Simon's sculpture studio at 305 Gist St.
Set in the bar of a fading neighborhood, the play pits the manager of a branch bank facing a shutdown against the local denizens worried about the current economy. Occasionally, they break into songs written by Marion and Michel.
Schweikert, the director, said the five-character play is available for productions in other locales. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The monthly Gist Street reading is Friday at Simon's studio at 8 p.m. Fiction writer Salvatore Scibona and poet Hadara Bar-Nadav will read. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5.
American Shorts season begins
The Rev. Janet Edwards presents "Sexuality & Faith: A Program for Pride" to open the season of the American Shorts series, now called American Shorts @ WYEP, June 10 at 7 p.m.
Edwards is a co-moderator of More Light Presbyterians, an advocacy organization for gays and lesbians.
Persad Center is co-sponsor of the event, held at the WYEP-FM Community Broadcast Center, 67 Bedford Square, South Side. Admission is $10 at the door. For details: 412-622-8866.
Hazo play premiere
Samuel Hazo's one-acter, "If Nobody Calls, I'm Not Home," receives a one-night reading by actress Kate Young, June 13 at 7:30 p.m.
It will be staged in the Kresge Theater on Carlow University's Oakland campus. It's free. For more details, 412-621-9893.
Correction/Clarification: (Published June 4, 2009) Heather Gray interpreted poetry for the deaf in a program that was part of the Uptown neighborhood festival Saturday, May 30, 2009. Her last name was misspelled in this story as originally published June 2, 2009.