info@alleghenywest.org
806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Clear and Present Stranger: Words from Incarcerated Writers

City of Asylum Banner (2019)

Wednesday, December 4th
7:00 pm

How do incarcerated voices resonate beyond walls, beyond bars?

Clear and Present Stranger is a presentation of the University of Pittsburgh’s Prison Education Project (PPEP). PPEP is a collaboration between Pitt’s English Department and incarcerated and non-incarcerated students, offering both Inside-Out and inside-only courses.

Clear and Present Stranger

This program illuminates experiences of the criminal justice system through a night of readings and performances, written by incarcerated writers and performed by their undergraduate colleagues. Performances and writings explore common ground in incarcerated and free experiences and reveals the power of sharing ones story.

Formed in 2016, the Pitt Prison Education Project (PPEP) has been teaching courses at the State Correctional Institute at Fayette (SCI Fayette) modeled on the nationally known Inside Out (I-O) prison exchange program, which has a 20-year track record of success at over 100 educational institutions and 100 correctional facilities. Taught at the prison, these courses are composed of both incarcerated (inside) students and traditional (outside) undergraduates. They have been transformational for all involved.

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From Undocumented Teenager to Southern Mom

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City of Asylum Memoir Series Presents

Sunday, November 10th
6:00 pm

In MALAYA: Essays On Freedom, author Cinelle Barnes opens a window into her past as an undocumented, Filipino teenager determined to build a future amidst the hustle of New York City. Prevented from getting a driver’s license or filing taxes, Cinelle worked odd jobs — constantly looking over her shoulder, hoping not to get caught. Cinelle also shares essays of her present, as a young mother navigating the stubborn landscape of the American South.

Lyrical and emotionally driven, MALAYA is the stirring follow-up to Cinelle’s acclaimed memoir on her childhood, Monsoon Mansion.

This is an intensely personal, yet universal, exploration of race, class and identity that redefines what it means to be a woman—and an American—in a divided country.
Cinelle Barnes

“Luminescent and shattering, Barnes’s book is a triumph: a conquering of the past through the power of the written word.” — Booklist (starred review)

Cinelle Barnes is a memoirist, essayist, and educator from Manila, Philippines. She is the author of Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir, which was listed as a Best Nonfiction Book of 2018 by Bustle and nominated for the 2018 Reading Women Nonfiction Award. She is also the editor of a forthcoming anthology of essays about the American South by writers of color. Cinelle was the 2018–19 writer-in-residence at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston, South Carolina, where she and her family live.

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Introducing the Latinx & Proud! Reading Series

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Latinx & Proud! Reading Series Presents

Denice Frohman

Tuesday, October 19th
7:00 pm

Denice Frohman’s poetry focuses on celebrating the parts of ourselves that are deemed unworthy. Known for her “electrifying” performance style, Denice has been featured on Buzzfeed and EPSNW – garnering over 10 million online views. She has performed on many international stages including The Apollo, Pen World Voices Festival, and at The White House.

Latinx & Proud!

Denice seeks to inspire all people to discover the power of their voices and to know their stories are worth telling. We’re moved by Denice’s work and passion, and can’t wait to kick off the Latinx & Proud! Reading Series with force.

Denice is joined by powerhouse poets M. Soledad Caballero, Tanya Shirazi, & Zeca Gonzalez.

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Latinx & Proud! Advisory Board

Adriana E. Ramírez, Eloisa Amezcua, Malcolm Friend & Karla Lamb

The mission of the Latinx & Proud! Reading Series is to incite conversation, empower & amplify the Latinx community in Pittsburgh, PA & beyond.

Damon Young, Northside Neighbor, Reads from Esteemed Memoir

City of Asylum (2018)

Damon Young:
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker

Friday, August 30th
5:30 pm

You’re invited to gathering of friends, family, neighbors, and fans for a reading and celebration of What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker, the critically acclaimed memoir by Northside neighbor Damon Young.

If you’ve been to Alphabet City, chances are you’ve seen Damon chatting with neighbors at the bar or diligently working on his laptop in the main lounge. This program is our chance to celebrate Damon’s success and his service to the Pittsburgh cultural community. The evening includes a reading, discussion, audience Q+A and general hullabaloo.

Damon Young

“Young pulls readers into his world, showing them his vulnerability, hitting them with unflinching honesty about the state of race relations in this country, and keeping them glued to the pages with his wit and humor.” — NPR

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker is a memoir in essays, boldly chronicling Damon’s efforts to, “exist while black.” Written with candor, self-awareness and considerable humor, Damon turns an unflinching eye on himself and an American society constructed and sustained by racism.

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker looks at one man’s Pittsburgh life while simultaneously serves as an authentic, keen and touching example of the black male experience.

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First Featured on This American Life — Now at Alphabet City

City of Asylum (2018)

Abdi Nor Iftin

Tuesday, August 13th
7:00 pm

Abdi Nor Iftin was a Somali refugee who fled to Kenya in fear of the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab. In 2006, while living in a Kenyan refugee camp, Abdi got “the luckiest break of his life:” winning the lottery for a spot on the short list for a U.S. visa. This was his ticket out. But before he could get what was promise, the police start raiding his neighborhood, targeting refugees. Abdi had to fight and struggle, enduring years of difficulty in his quest to move to America.

Abdi visits Alphabet City to recount his story, first told as a radio-documentary on the BBC World Service and This American Life, and now in his urgent and timely memoir Call Me American.

Call Me American

“Riveting… [Abdi Nor Iftin] had to endure famine, war, a precarious life as a refugee, and a visa-rejecting bureaucracy before a green-card lottery win enabled him to emigrate. His narrative is both panoramic and particular, full of irreverent asides, and suffused with appreciation for the humanity of others.” — The New Yorker

Abdi’s voice reads like an old a friend and readers can’t help but cringe at his struggles and cheer for his triumphs. Abdi’s fighting spirit and eternal optimism exude from the work and we think readers will be moved to his story in person.

Abdi Nor Iftin currently lives in Maine. He is studying political science at the University of Southern Maine, and he plays soccer every Saturday in a melting-pot league of Americans and immigrants from around the world.

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Mary Norris Shares Her Passionate Greek Travelogue

City of Asylum (2018)

Mary Norris

Tuesday, July 16th
7:00 pm

A passion for punctuation meets a love for all things Greek.

Mary Norris’ new memoir Greek to Me, traces a decades-long obsession with Greece: its language, literature, mythologies, people, places, food, and monuments. It’s a captivating and satisfying account of a great passion, and is sure to move anyone who’s ever fallen in love with a place.

Mary Norris

Norris is the famous New Yorker copy editor who’s New York Times bestseller, Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, delighted readers with her irreverent tales of punctuation in the celebrated copy department. Norris visits City of Asylum to read from Greek to Me, another witty record of her equally passionate fascination with Greece.

A combination of memoir, travelogue, and funny ode to the art of self-expressio, Greek to Me will illuminate for audiences the music of a language that so deeply influences our own.

Mary Norris worked for the New Yorker as a copy editor and query proofreader for more than thirty years. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Norris now lives in New York and Rockaway.

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“A Tonic of a Book” for This American Age

City of Asylum (2018)

James & Deborah Fallows:
Our Towns

Monday, February 25th
7:00 pm

For the last five years, journalists James and Deborah Fallows have been traveling across America in a single-engine prop airplane. The America they saw is acutely conscious of its problems — from economic dislocation to the opioid scourge — but also crafting solutions, with a practical-minded determination at dramatic odds with the bitter paralysis of national politics.

Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America — a national bestseller — is a vivid, surprising portrait of the civic and economic reinvention taking place in America, town by town, out of view of the national media. Their view of the country is as complex and contradictory as America itself, but it also reflects the energy, the generosity and compassion, the dreams, and the determination of many who are in the midst of making things better.

Our Towns

“James and Deborah Fallows have always moved to where history is being made … They have an excellent sense of where world-shaping events are taking place at any moment—and a fervent commitment to be there to see it happen … In these cities, the Fallows argue, citizen participants are coping with declining industries, creating new civic cultures, assimilating waves of immigration, and collaborating across party-lines to revive everything from arts programs to tech seedbeds.” — David Brooks, New York Times

City of Asylum was honored to be featured in this collection, and is double honored to host its paperback release with these two accomplished writers.

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City Books: January Update

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Join Us for a Reading

Dracul
Please join City Books on Saturday, January 26th at 7:00 pm as we welcome J.D. Barker back to the store. The event is FREE and requires no prior registration. J.D. is an international bestselling American author who writes suspense thrillers, often incorporating elements of horror, crime, mystery, science fiction and the supernatural. He is the author of Forsaken, The Fourth Monkey, and The Fifth to Die. His latest novel is Dracul, an authorized prequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula he wrote with Dacre Stoker.

Federal Employee Pay-What-You-Can

Federal Employee Pricing
In support of furloughed Federal workers, City Books is now offering pay-what-you-can pricing up to $30 for those with official ID. This offer is valid on books & gift certificates until the time when regular pay cycles resume. Please share this offer with your family & friends.

The First-ever Biography of Fred Rogers

City of Asylum (2018)

The Good Neighbor:
The Life and Work of Fred Rogers

Sunday, January 27th
6:00 pm

The Good Neighbor — the first full-length biography of Fred Rogers and a New York Times best-seller — tells the story of Pittsburgh’s champion of compassion, equality, and kindness who became an utterly unique and enduring American icon. Drawing on original interviews, oral histories and archival documents, President & CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation Maxwell King traces Rogers’ personal, professional and artistic life through decades of work.

The Good Neighbor Cover

“The inimitable Mister Rogers becomes somehow even more enchanting. In addition to elegantly narrating the facts of Rogers’ life… King’s book brims with anecdotes of intimate exchanges that highlight Rogers’ kindness and grace.” — Booklist

King examines Rogers’ surprising decision to walk away from the show to make television for adults, only to return to the neighborhood with increasingly sophisticated episodes, written in collaboration with experts on childhood development. An engaging story, rich in detail, The Good Neighbor is the definitive portrait of a beloved figure, cherished by multiple generations.

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Tree of Life Memorial Reading @ City Books

Tree of Life Memorial

Please join City Books on Saturday, November 10th from 7:00-9:00 pm as we honor the victims and families of the anti-Semitic attack Tree of Life with a memorial reading to benefit HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) and JFCS Pittsburgh. Suggested donation is $5.

We expect an overflow audience on Saturday, so we ask for cooperation and consideration as we manage the crowd.

Scheduled Readers

Jennifer Bannan
Tuhin Das
Barbara Edelman
Michelle Gil-Montero
Kevin Haworth
Tereneh Idia
Joy Katz
Marc Nieson
Adriana Ramirez
Shannon Reed
Phil Terman
Jesse Welch

and Mimi Jong, ehru soloist

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