Writing Pittsburgh: Neighborhoods
We received 120 pitches for the first project in the Writing Pittsburgh series, and selected twenty-one finalists who represent a range of backgrounds and experiences. On September 19, 2015, all of our finalists participated in a day-long event where they defined their focus, shared stories about their individual experiences of Pittsburgh, collaborated, and planned out the next steps for their writing.
The essays explore the character and meaning of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods for both a local and national readership. Five works have been placed in various outlets.
From "79" by Brian Broome
The last bus to the East Hills leaves Wilkinsburg Station at exactly 12:28 a.m. on weeknights, and I am always the last one on it by the time it reaches Park Hill Drive, where I live. The street is midnight dark apart from the headlights of the bus. The ramshackle homes are set a bit back from the road, behind overhanging trees. Anywhere else, this street would be charming. But poor makes everything ugly.
To continue reading, please visit True Story.
From “The Hidden History of Gas Station Bathrooms, By a Man Who Cleans Them” by Gavin Jenkins
A bald man rounded the corner by the ATM machine. He was coming back from the bathroom with the look. I’d been at the gas station a couple months, so I knew the look. It’s a grimace with pursed lips that says: I feel dirty. We locked eyes long enough for him to shake his head. That little swivel filled me with anxiety. Our bathrooms weren’t filthy. For one of the busiest gas stations in Pittsburgh, they were OK. And no, that’s not good enough, but does an OK inner-city public restroom deserve a public shaming? Because that’s usually what accompanies the look, a cry of: That bathroom is disgusting! Then people within earshot make the look, too.
To continue reading, please visit Narratively.
From “Squash on the Hill” by Caitlin Dwyer
Marlon is hurt. Or so he says, limping into the squash court, an exaggerated look of pain contorting his face. Coach Samantha Rosado takes one look at him and says, “Hustle up, Marlon. Okay, everybody, what’s next?”
A chorus of voices echoes around the enclosed court: “High skips!”
To continue reading, please visit Sport Literate.
From “Larimer and Orphan” by Joy Katz
At the corner of Larimer Avenue and Orphan Street is a meadow turning to forest, where the foundations of demolished homes are softened by ivy and moss. This spot is only twenty years into a quiet ruination, but it feels ancient. Wherever I step, in the low grass, dozens of tiny crickets spring out, noiselessly, pale-gray. I can’t find them when I bend over to look. It’s as if I am splashing through an invisible, mysteriously dry puddle.
To continue reading, please visit Places Journal.
From "Measuring the Decline of America’s First Company Town, One Crack at a Time" by Lawrence Lenhart
In Pennsylvania’s Lower Turtle Creek Valley—where there are no longer turtles in the crick (for decades, I’ve checked), no turtle soup on its cafés’ menus either—a borough surrenders its castle. On a Saturday morning, the last contents of the turreted sandstone castle are dragged onto the lawn: three chairs from the old high-school auditorium, a big drum that belonged to the Polish Falcons, and an antique Westinghouse roaster stand (“calibrated to match the temperatures in your cookbook with super-super exactness”). I drive around the Castle once, twice, a few times more. The tally ticks upward. I’m in indefinite orbit.
To continue reading, please visit Literary Hub.
Thank you to everyone who submitted a pitch—we look forward to working with more of you as the Writing Pittsburgh series continues!