Vertical Bridges: Poems and Photographs of City Steps by Paola Corso

Appreciate the city steps? Then you might also appreciate Paola Corso‘s new book.

In Vertical Bridges: Poems and Photographs of City Steps, Paola Corso celebrates public stairways in her native Pittsburgh and around the world. Inspired by her Sicilian grandfather, a stonemason who built concrete steps, and her Calabrian grandfather and father, steelworkers who once climbed them to the mill, Corso is a storyteller. She shares memories of her family, the history behind Pittsburgh having more public staircases than any other city in the country, and curiosities about some of the world’s most famous steps. Vertical Bridges includes photos by the author along with archival photos from the University of Pittsburgh Library’s Pittsburgh City Photographer Collection.

Here’s what some other discerning step appreciators had to say about it:

“Under Corso’s nimble juggling of words and images, Pittsburgh’s staircases become a series of paths leading elsewhere—from China to Norway, from Italy back to the Three Rivers again. Together these narratives construct a fascinating ecology of urban spaces, emphasizing the delicate lives and quotidian strength of those who climb up and down: workers, immigrants, children, lovers. In each direction, these poetic flights offer an all-encompassing view.”
—LAURA E. RUBERTO, author of Gramsci, Migration, and the Representation of Women’s Work in Italy and the U.S. and co-editor of New Italian Migrations to the United States, Vol. 1 and 2

“I have expressed Pittsburgh’s city steps using maps and photographs. Here Paola Corso has done so with words and style, imagery and feelings. She offers a delightful way to experience the steps, not only in Pittsburgh but around the world.”
—BOB REGAN, author of Pittsburgh Steps and Bridges of Pittsburgh

“Pittsburghers will love Paola Corso’s mix of poetry and poetic imagery, from histories of the city’s staircases to stories that unfolded along them over time. It’s good to see the stairways being celebrated, preserved, and loved—in print and in real life.”
—BRIAN A. BUTKO, author of Greetings from the Lincoln Highway and editor of Western Pennsylvania History magazine

“In poems contemplative, lyric, hybrid, and explosive, Corso stays true to her working-class roots. Though the altitude is often dizzying, the elevation is well worth it—and the best of poems, like these, always give us a touch of vertigo. This is a remarkably imaginative book, replete with stunning archival photographs and equally stunning photographs by Corso herself. A marvel!”
—JOSEPH BATHANTI, author of The Life of the World to Come and East Liberty

So far it’s available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, bookshop.org, & probably elsewhere. Booksellers can get it direct from Ingram.

PAOLA CORSO’s books are set in her native Pittsburgh, where her Italian immigrant family members were steel workers, most recently The Laundress Catches Her Breath, winner of the Tillie Olsen Prize in Creative Writing, Once I Was Told the Air Was Not for Breathing, a Triangle Fire Memorial Association Awardee, and Catina’s Haircut: A Novel in Stories. She is cofounder and resident artist of Steppin Stanzas, a grant-awarded poetry and art project celebrating city steps. She splits her time between New York’s grid and Pittsburgh’s grade.

Here are some recent interviews Paola did with other authors about their books, over at CavanKerry Press

Tina Kelly

Fred Shaw

& here’s what Paola has going on & coming up.

Park Slope Windsor Terrace Artists Collective will hold its annual OPEN STUDIO TOUR on Friday-Sunday, November 6-8, 14-15, and 21-22, 2020 at Ossam Gallery and Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Gallery in Brooklyn. Paola will display her  COLOR COLLAGES of city steps.
STEP WALK AND POETRY READING on Sunday, December 6 from 10-noon and 2-4 pm in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Paola will read from her new book, VERTICAL BRIDGES: POEMS AND PHOTOGRAPHS OF CITY STEPS.  Hosted by Danny Kessler.
Check back for more events here.
Paola will be a featured reader for the Italian American Writers Association via Zoom on Saturday, March 27, 2021. There will be an Open Mic from 6-7 p.m. and Featured Readers 7-8 p.m. More details to come.
The Carnegie Public Library-Oakmont Branch will exhibit Paola’s PHOTOGRAPHS of city steps and color collages the month of July 2021 along with a poetry reading and book signing. More details to come.
Paola will also post updates on her FACEBOOK PAGE.

Stay tuned for reviews & more (online, for the foreseeable future) events & updates, including a reading hosted by Pittsburgh’s White Whale Bookstore in February.

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