Graduating seniors from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg’s creative & professional writing program will read from their just-published chapbooks on Thursday, Apr. 29 at 8 p.m. on Zoom as the finale to the campus’s reading series, Voices: Celebrating the Beauty and Diversity of America’s Literary Landscape. The series was is designed to celebrate the richness of human lives and stories.
The six student-authors will be joined by guest authors Steve Henn, whose most recent book, Guilty Prayer, was published this year by Main Street Rag press, and Rebecca Jung, whose chapbook Home Leave recounts her journey as a third-culture kid growing up in The Congo, Belgium, Ohio, and beyond.
The reading is free and open to everyone, but advance registration is required. Those who register will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the reading.
All Pitt-Greensburg creative and professional writing majors complete chapbook-length manuscripts in their chosen genres as part of their senior capstone requirements. The creative & professional writing program at Pitt-Greensburg emphasizes the importance of experiential learning and prepares student authors for careers as professional writers.
As part of their coursework, student-writers build manuscripts, practice editing, work one-on-one with faculty/author mentors, participate in peer workshops, and engage with nationally and internationally acclaimed writers. In their final semester, students learn the art and craft of book publication and design, and ultimately publish their own work before graduation.
"The capstone is a culmination of our students’ undergraduate writing journeys," said Lori Jakiela, professor of English and director of the creative & professional writing program. "For four years, these young writers are challenged to read deeply, participate in literary events, and become good literary citizens, not just of the campus, but of the broader literary world. They read alongside published and award-winning writers, workshop and support one another, and finish their final semester holding their own published work in their hands. I couldn’t be prouder of them."
The authors, along with the titles of their chapbooks, include:
Joseph Alexander: A Journey Just to Walk – Fiction/Young Adult/Science Fiction
Colin Cavada: Maybe We Don’t Know the First Thing About Love – Fiction/Literary
Matthew Grayo: Calling All Loves – Poetry
Madison Jarnot: Genealogy of Memory – Nonfiction/Memoir/Essays
Krystal Keller: Scavenging Little Crows – Fiction
Alexis Williams: I Hate it Here (Sometimes) – Nonfiction/Memoir
All of the writers’ chapbooks are available for sale on Amazon or from the individual authors.
Several of the student authors have also received writing awards from Pitt-Greensburg. Colin Cavada is the recipient of the 2020 Scott Turow Prize for Excellence in Fiction. Krystal Keller is the 2021 winner of the Scott Turow Prize for Excellence in Fiction. And Madison Jarnot has received multiple awards, including the Ida B. Wells Award for Excellence in Journalism (in both 2019 and 2021); and the Joan Didion Award for Excellence in Creative Nonfiction (in both 2020 and 2021).
"This is a powerhouse group of young writers," Jakiela said. "They are a testimony to the talent here in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. I can’t wait to see what these wonderful writers and humans go on to do in their careers and their lives."
Guest authors Jung and Henn will be joining the line-up to help celebrate the student-authors and welcome them into the next stages of their literary lives.
Rebecca Jung is a writer and poet who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her work has been published in many literary magazines, including Sky Island Journal, Memoir, The Impetus, Pennsylvania Review, Evening Street Review, and Purple Clover. Her work has also appeared in two books: Along These Rivers: Poetry and Photography from Pittsburgh, and Burningword Ninety-Nine, A Selected Anthology of Poetry, 2001-2011. She will be reading from her chapbook entitled “Home Leave.” Jung earned a BA in English writing from the University of Pittsburgh, and a BA in art history from Kent State University.
Author Hanif Abdurraqib calls Guilty Prayer–poet Steve Henn’s latest book–"stunning for how much it fits into a small space. I love this book for how it faces me, how it speaks to me, how it trusts me. Reading Henn has made me a more generous person."
Henn is the author of three previous poetry collections: Indiana Noble Sad Man of the Year (Wolfson, 2017); And God Said: Let there be Evolution! (New York Quarterly Books, 2012); and Unacknowledged Legislations (New York Quarterly Books, 2011). He co-edited the now-defunct indie-lit magazine Fight These Bastards. He is currently working on a book of overlapping essays he calls a “memoir collage.” He lives and teaches in Indiana.
The Voices series and Creative and Professional Writing Capstone Readings are funded in part through Pitt’s Year of Engagement initiative, the Pitt-Greensburg Office of Student Life, and the Pitt-Greensburg Creative & Professional Writing Program. For more information about creative writing at Pitt-Greensburg, contact Lori Jakiela at 724-836-7481 or email@example.com.