Mexican War Streets walking tour to feature local writers


By Erika Fleegle

For a new take on a stroll through the garden look no further than Central Northside’s City of Asylum. The literary haven will host its ninth annual walking tour in the form of Writers in the Gardens Aug. 15 at 3:30-5:30 p.m.

This year’s event, curated by nonfiction writer and University of Pittsburgh English professor Peter Trachtenberg, will feature a mix of poets and prose writers from different literary backgrounds. Geetha Kothari, William Lychack, Jenny Johnson and Tameka Cage Conley were hand-picked by Trachtenberg for this event.

As small groups of visitors make their way between the four featured gardens in the Mexican War Streets, each of these writers will do a short reading crafted for and inspired by the garden in which he or she will be reading.

All groups will reconvene at the end of the tour for a final fifth reading in Sampsonia Way’s Alphabet City Tent, where Trachtenberg and current resident writers Birgul Oguz from Turkey and Armen Ohanyan from Armenia, will each do a short reading. A book signing will follow.

This event is free, but space is limited. Reserve your spot by going online or calling Karen Simpson at 412-323-0278.

For those who have already reserved their space, City of Asylum staff requests that tour-goers meet at Tabernacle Baptist Church on 1240 Buena Vista Street in order to better accommodate tour size.


Writer bios:

Geeta Kothari is the editor of ‘Did My Mama Like to Dance?’ and Other Stories about Mothers and Daughters (Avon).  She is the recipient of a fellowship in literature from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (2003, 2005), and her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in various anthologies and journals, including Superstition Review, Fourth Genre, and Best American Essays. She is the nonfiction editor at the The Kenyon Review and teaches at the University of Pittsburgh.

Tameka Cage Conley, PhD, is a literary artist who writes poetry, fiction, and plays. She received the doctoral degree in English in 2006 from Louisiana State University, where she was a recipient of the Huel Perkins Doctoral Fellowship.  In 2010, she received the August Wilson Center Fellowship in literary arts. Her first play, Testimony, was produced at the Center in May 2011. An excerpt of the play is published in the anthology 24 Gun Control Plays and has been performed in Los Angeles and the Darlinghurst Theatre Company in Sydney, Australia.  Her poems are published in Callaloo, The Portable Boog Reader, African American Review, Huizache: The Magazine of Latino Literature, and a special online feature of the Southeast Review in response to the Ferguson protests that spread across the nation. An excerpt of her novel-in-progress, This Far, By Grace, is also published in Huizache.  She has received writing fellowships from Cave Canem, the Vermont Studio Center, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Squaw Valley Writers Conference and Workshops.  In October 2013, she received the Eben Demarest Trust grant, awarded annually to an artist or archaeologist, to support the completion of her novel-in-progress. Last month, her poem “Losing” was chosen by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book as one of four featured poems for the Public Poetry Project in 2015.

Jenny Johnson’s poems appear in The Best American Poetry, Troubling the Line: Trans & Genderqueer Poetry & Poetics, New England Review, Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly, and elsewhere. She was the winner of a 2015 Whiting Writers Award. She has also received awards and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, The Pittsburgh Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Currently, she is a Lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh where she teaches writing.

William Lychack is the author of a novel, The Wasp Eater, and a collection of stories, The Architect of Flowers, as well as two children’s books and a nonfiction book about the history of cement. His work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, and on public radio’s This American Life. He is currently an assistant professor in the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh. Photo by Tony Eprile.


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