Chatham University's new literary festival hears voices from other countries. | Literary Arts | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Chatham University's new literary festival hears voices from other countries. 

While Creative Nonfiction recasts its literary festival as a writing conference (see above), Chatham University introduces its own new literary festival, this one focusing on the role geography and culture play in poetry and fiction.

Bridges to Other Worlds: An International Literary Festival runs Sat., Oct. 4, and Sun., Oct. 5, on Chatham's campus. The big name is former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, who speaks at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. But there's also an impressive array of other visitors, many from the Middle East.

In fact, Hass' talk is followed directly by a panel discussion titled "Middle East Imaginations and the Arabic-Speaking World." Participants include: prominent Jordanian novelist and news columnist Laila Al-Atrash; American poet and translator Peter Cole; Iranian political novelist Anahita Firouz; Pittsburgh-based poet and translator Samuel Hazo; and Palestinian-American poet, young-adult novelist, anthologist and educator Naomi Shihab Nye.

That afternoon, there are readings (including one by Palestinian poet and fiction writer Taha Muhammad Ali, with translator Cole) and a writer's roundtable. Evening readings feature Hass and Shihab Nye.

On Sunday, there are morning small-group sessions collectively called "Conversations on Craft"; participation is limited to 15 per session, and pre-registration required, for talks with presenters including Hass. Journalist and fiction writer Derek Green gives an afternoon reading, followed by a conversation on literary translations featuring Alexis Levitin, Brazilian poet Astrid Cabral, and Cole, Hazo and Hass. A roundtable of women writers follows. The evening readings are by Cabral (with Levitin) and acclaimed Jamaican poet and writer Claudia Rankine.

Both days include an all-day book exhibit and sale. The registration fee, good for the weekend, is $30.


Bridges to Other Worlds: An International Literary Festival Sat., Oct. 4, and Sun., Oct. 5. Chatham University campus, Shadyside. $30. 412-661-1809 or



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