Check out several Pitt-related authors at Pittsburgh’s first book festival

Pitt will be well represented at this weekend’s first-ever Greater Pittsburgh Festival of Books, which it also is helping to sponsor.

The all-day, free event will take place in six venues in East Liberty on May 14. It will feature more than 30 authors with ties to Pittsburgh. There will be poetry readings, kids story times and activities, entertainment, and book and comic stores. The University Library System also is a sponsor of the festival.

Performer and Pittsburgh native Billy Porter, winner of Emmy, Tony and Grammy awards, is the biggest draw at the day. He will be discussing his new memoir, “Unprotected,” at a sold out appearance in the Kelly Strayhorn Theater.

Kathleen George, a Pitt professor of theater arts and creative writing and author of “The Blues Walked In” (University of Pittsburgh Press), will help close out the day at the Kelly Strayhorn along with Deanna Witkowski, music graduate student and author of “Mary Lou Williams: Music for the Soul.” Witkowski also will perform with her jazz trio at the closing event from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

A number of other University of Pittsburgh Press authors will give readings and sign books. The Pitt Press also will have a table in the Bakery Square Conservatory on Penn Avenue. “We've always been on (the festival’s) advisory board,” said Peter Kracht, director of the Pitt Press. “It's  not an easy thing to get off the ground. There’s a lot of big ambition behind this.”

The Poetry Allowed Tent in Bakery Square will include several people with ties to Pitt or the Pitt Press (marked with an *), including:

  • Lori Jakiela, professor of English and creative writing at Pitt–Greensburg, 11:30-11:45 a.m.

  • Toi Derricotte*, co-founder of Cave Canem and Pitt professor emerita of English (with Danielle Obisie-Orlu, a Pitt student, and Celeste Gainey), 1-1:45 p.m.

  • Cameron Barnette, Pitt Poetry MFA alumnus and teacher at the Falk Laboratory School, 1:45-2:15 p.m.

  • Daniel Borzutzky* (with Michelle Gil-Montero), 2:30-3 p.m.

  • Michael Wurster*, 3-3:15 p.m.

  • Lynn Emanuel*, retired Pitt professor of English and founder of the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers’ Series, 4:15-4:30 p.m.

Other Pitt Press authors appearing at the event include:

  • Maxwell King and Louise Lippincott, co-authors of “American Workman: The Life and Art of John Kane,” 1:30-2 p.m., Kelly Strayhorn Theater

  • Aurielle Marie (with Carly Inghram), an essayist and poet, 2-3 p.m., KDKA Stage in Bakery Square

  • Jan Beatty, author of “American Bastard,” 2:30-3:30 p.m., Duolingo Building

Two part-time Pitt instructors also will be showcasing their works:

  • Barbara Burstin, part-time instructor in history and author of “Sophie: The Incomparable Mayor Masloff,” 2 p.m., reading tent, Bakery Square

  • Katie Booth. Part-time instructor in English and author of “The Invention of Miracles: Language, Power and Alexander Graham Bell’s Quest to End Deafness,” 10 a.m., Kelly-Strayhorn Theater

— Susan Jones


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