City of Asylum/Pittsburgh Featured in Pittsburgh Magazine

by    /  February 22, 2011  / No comments

Pittsburgh Magazine featured City of Asylum in its March issue. “Meet the New Neighbors,” by Christine H. O’Toole, is not only a walk on Sampsonia Way, it´s also a glimpse of its writers, neighbors and the magazine that bears its name.

City of Asylum: Meet the New Neighbors

Burmese writer Khet Mar and her husband, painter Than Htay Maung, in front of Maung’s mural.Photo by Martha Rial

A gleaming 1950 Plymouth mounted on dozens of barefoot black feet. A brown clapboard house scrawled with graffiti in giant Chinese characters—and nearby another sprouting wooden wings. A vibrant mural on a brick row house that entwines shapely Burmese calligraphy with elegant figures.

Taking a turn onto Sampsonia Way in the Mexican War Streets neighborhood of Pittsburgh’s Northside is like stepping through the looking glass. It’s the only alley in the city where the houses actually talk. Boldly inscribed with the words of defiant writers from around the world, the 19th-century buildings speak—loudly—for the artists who live and work there, connecting Pittsburgh to a courageous worldwide community of ideas and ideals.

For writers from China, El Salvador, Burma and other strife-ridden nations, Sampsonia Way is the last place they expected to live. After political threats, imprisonment and even torture in their native country, they have taken refuge here on a tiny one-way street that’s become an unlikely international enclave.

Read the whole feature by Christine H. O’Toole

Buy March Pittsburgh Magazine issue

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