June events at Alphabet City


By Nick Eustis

City of Asylum is hosting a series of events for the month of June, including readings, films, and musical performances.

All events listed are located at City of Asylum’s Alphabet City, 40 W. North St., and are free of charge.
On June 7, City of Asylum will be hosting members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for a chamber series called “Play N’at.” The Pittsburgh Cello Quartet and the Trapeze Ensemble, made up of nine symphony orchestra members, will meet at 8 p.m. to perform and mingle.

On June 14, Café Con Leche and the ReelQ Film Festival will present a screening of the film
Gun Hill Road at 7 p.m. The film concerns a man returning to his wife after three years in prison, only to find their relationship strained and their child exploring a gender transformation.

On June 15, three faculty members from the poet society Cave Canem will meet at 7:30 p.m. for an evening of poetry reading. The readers will be Major Jackson, who has authored four collections of poetry, one of which won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Also reading are National Book Award winner Robin Coste Lewis and Dr. Haki Madhubuti, who has written more than 20 books of poetry, nonfiction, and essays as part of the Black Arts Movement.

On June 21, new-jazz band Thumbscrew will be performing at 8 p.m. Described by music publication “The Absolute Sound” as “if Cream and Nirvana had played instrumental jazz,” the trio will kick off their new residency at City of Asylum with a live performance of selections from their album “Convallaria.” While in Pittsburgh, Thumbscrew will also be recording a new record.

Wrapping up the month’s events will be a reading by Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Margo Jefferson. At
8 p.m., Jefferson will be reading selections from her National Book Critics Circle Award-winning autobiography “Negroland,” in which she describes her coming-of-age as the daughter of a black pediatrician in the 1950s and 60s, and the lives of affluent African-Americans in that time.

Since 2014, City of Asylum offered Pittsburghers events like this as a program called Summer on Sampsonia Way, but were unable to in the winter due to the cold weather. Now that they have moved into their new Alphabet City location, however, they have been able to expand what events they can offer.

“Alphabet City has allowed us to run events all year long, so we are no longer dependent on the Sampsonia Way tent and the warmer weather of summer to offer our free programming,” said Ayne Terceira, City of Asylum’s digital marketing coordinator.

With this new location, City of Asylum will be able to offer entertaining events for the Pittsburgh community not just this summer, but all year round.

City of Asylum, an international advocacy network for exiled and persecuted writers, is “a hub for Pittsburgh’s readers and writers, jazz and small-scale music and performance, and artistic experimentation.”

The organization also works to integrate exiled writers into the Pittsburgh community.

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