​Pitt-Greensburg Celebrates the Power of Stories with Storytellers’ Week April 18-22

Writers, poets, visual storytellers, and more will celebrate the human power of stories with a series of events at Pitt-Greensburg April 18-21.  

“What’s Your Story? A Week of Storytelling and Literary Community” will bring together visiting writers, students, faculty, and alumni authors for readings, performances, and book launch celebrations. All the events are free and open to the public.

“Our students love many writers, but one who is dear to them is John Green,” says Lori Jakiela, professor of Creative & Professional Writing. “John Green tells young writers to read a lot and write a lot, but he says the thing that’s most vital is to tell stories and listen closely to the stories of others. Stories, the uniquely human tradition, mean so much.”

Jakiela and Dave Newman, visiting instructor of creative and professional writing, organized and will host the storytelling-week events. Jakiela is the author of seven books, including the award-winning memoir “Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe.” Newman is the author of seven books, most recently the novel “East Pittsburgh Down Low.”

Together, the writers, who are also married to one another and can be seen on the PBS Pittsburgh documentary “People Who Write Books Around Here,” direct the Pitt-Greensburg Creative & Professional Writing Program.

Jakiela notes with pride some of the many alumni of the Pitt-Greensburg creative and professional writing program, including Newman ’93, who are succeeding in their chosen fields of endeavor:

  • Adam Matcho ’06, whose most recent book of poems, “Ask Your Undertaker,” has just been released from WPA Press;
  • Dylan Nice ’08, whose book “Other Kinds” was published by Hobart Press;
  • Christopher Carolli ’06, author of the Paranormal Investigators series;
  • acclaimed Pittsburgh artist (One Fly Chicken) and poet Meghan Tutolo ’07;
  • Shannon Sankey ’15, author of the poetry collection “We Ran Rapturous;”
  • award-winning photojournalist Justin Merriman ’00.


The successes of Pitt-Greensburg writers are something Newman attributes to the unique mentorships that develop between faculty and students on the small liberal-arts campus.

“As a working-class kid who dreamed of being a writer, I found my home at Pitt-Greensburg a long time ago,” Newman says. “The sense of community, the talent here, the way our writers care about and support one another. It’s incredible. Events like this storytellers’ week build upon Pitt-Greensburg’s tradition of nurturing young writers and dreamers and building our vibrant literary community.”

The schedule for the Storytellers Showcase includes:

Monday, April 18, 7 p.m. Mary Lou Campana Chapel & Lecture Center -- PENDULUM Magazine Launch

Come hear authors featured in the 2021-2022 issue of PENDULUM read their work. Edited by Caitlin Cruser, this year’s issue features work by Pitt-Greensburg students and alumni, including Adam Matcho; Carrie Smith, Joyce Lin, McKenzie Bonar, Bailey Weber, Madison Jarnot, Caitlin Cruiser, Nicole Cortino, and more. Copies of the magazine will be available free. A reception follows the event. (PENDULUM is Pitt-Greensburg’s literary magazine.)

Tuesday, April 19, 7 p.m. Ferguson Theater -- STORYTELLERS SHOWCASE 1

A night of stories with writers, poets, filmmakers, musicians, and more. Snag a book or story-swag from our free-book table. A reception follows the event.

Wednesday, April 20, 7 p.m. Village Hall 118 -- STORYTELLERS SHOWCASE 2

A night of stories with writers, poets, filmmakers, musicians and more. More free books and story-swag. A reception follows the event.

Thursday, April 21, 7 p.m. Hempfield Room-- CAPSTONE BOOK LAUNCH

Readings, book signings, and sales with senior Pitt-Greensburg authors. Reception and book signing after the event. 

Friday, April 22, 7 p.m. via ZOOM: VOICES READING SERIES PRESENTS:

Pitt-Greensburg’s VOICES Reading Series welcomes poet and writer Paul Kareem Tayyar and the winners of the Pitt-Greensburg’s 2022 Writing Awards: Madison Jarnot (winner of The Ida B. Wells Award for Excellence in Journalism); Caitlin Cruser (winner of The Gerald Stern Prize for Excellence in Poetry); Joyce Lin (winner of The Joan Didion Award for Excellence in Creative Nonfiction); and Samantha Burnette (winner of The Scott Turow Prize for Excellence in Fiction).

The reading will be on Zoom and advance registration is required. [Registration for this event is now closed.]

Paul Kareem Tayyar photoPaul Kereem Tayyar:

Paul Kareem Tayyar was born in Los Angeles in 1977. The son of an Iranian father and an Irish Catholic mother, he was raised in Orange County, CA.

His poetry collections include “Let Us Now Praise Ordinary Things,” "Scenes From A Good Life" (Tebot Bach), "Postmark Atlantis" (Level 4 Press), "Follow the Sun" (Aortic Books), and "Magic Carpet Poems" (Tebot Bach), as well as a novella, "In the Footsteps of the Silver King" (Spout Hill Press). His work has been featured on The Writer’s Almanac With Garrison Keillor and anthologized in a variety of collections, including the "L.A. Fiction Anthology: Southland Stories by Southland Writers" (Red Hen Press) and "The Giant Book of Poetry" (Level 4 Press). Of his work, Edward Field has written, “Reading Kareem Tayyar [is to be] in the presence of an electric, first-rate mind,” and the Los Angeles Times has said Tayyar’s voice is “illustrative, almost lyrical […] which transports the reader directly onto the scene of each page.”

For more information about the storytelling week, the VOICES reading series, or the Creative & Professional Writing Program at Pitt-Greensburg, contact Jakiela at loj@pitt.edu or 724-836-7481.

Publication Date

Wednesday, April 6, 2022 - 15:15