Sherrie Flick and Nancy Krygowski

by    /  June 29, 2010  / No comments

The crowd at Gist Street. Photo by Jonathan Green (Popcity.)

The first Friday of each month around 6:30pm, a line begins to form along Gist Street in Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood. If it’s raining, people clutch umbrellas. If it’s summer, they stand in the sun, fanning themselves with newspapers. In winter, they huddle together in coats.

They look like they are queing up for the opening of some new hip club, but they are there for literature. They are waiting for one of Pittsburgh’s most popular reading series to open its doors.

The series began in March 2001 and is directed by fiction writer Sherrie Flick and poet Nancy Krygowski with the help of playwright Rick Schweikerts. It is held on the 3rd floor of James Simon’s sculpture studio.

While organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts are wringing their hands about declining readership, the Gist Street series regularly sells out and often turns people away. This is all the more unusual because it is a series dedicated to emerging writers who are either publishing in national journals and magazines or publishing their first or second books.

Part of the reason for the series’ success is the atmosphere. It’s as much a reading as a social occasion with folks bringing food and beer and a raffle that includes books by the readers and treats from Flick’s garden.

“I had the feeling that I was reading for a group of friends,” said City of Asylum/Pittsburgh writer-in-resident Horacio Castellanos Moya. “I was deeply impressed by the fact that there were so many young people—not students obliged to go to a reading in a university classroom—but young people that really enjoy sharing literature, drinks, talk. That was fantastic.”

You would think that being such tireless promoters of other people’s work would mean their own would suffer. Not true for Krygowski and Flick. Reconsidering Happiness, Flick’s first novel, was published last year and Krygowski has been publishing steady in nationally recognized journals since her book Velocity came out in 2007.

We asked these two long-time friends to introduce each other’s work.

READ the excerpt from Sherrie Flick’s Reconsidering Happiness.

READ poems from Nancy Krygowski’s Velocity.

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