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Steppin Stanzas project performs at StepTrek


October 3, 2017

Steppin Stanzas, a grassroots poetry project celebrating Pittsburgh public steps, will perform “On the Way Up: City Steps, City Immigrants” at South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association’s 17th Annual StepTrek on Saturday, Oct. 7 in South Side.

“On the Way Up,” a mix of poetry, music, dance, and art performed and presented along the StepTrek hiking route, will pay tribute to early immigrants who built city stairways and those who now care for them as well as show support for new immigrants making a life for themselves and their families in the Pittsburgh area.

“The hard work to build and maintain our vast network of city steps parallels an immigrant’s journey to assimilation. There are steps forward, steps backward, and steps waiting,” says poet and literary activist Paola Corso, who cofounded Steppin Stanzas with poet Andrew Edwards.

Ms. Corso will read original poems based on vintage photographs of immigrants building city steps and on her Italian immigrant father. Mr. Edwards, the son of Scotch Irish and Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, will give a multi-lingual performance.

Joining them are guest artists Michael DeLauro, an Emmy-winning director and producer of documentaries; belly dance artist Sahra DeRoy; Koku Kuwonu, a drummer from the African country of Togo; Japanese-American Keiko Maeda; and poet and English as a Second Language instructor Christine Telfer.

Some of Ms. Telfer’s students will also present bi-lingual poetry, art, and music from their native India, Ukraine, Portugal, Algeria, Brazil, China, and Nigeria.

Ms. Telfer, who also teaches citizenship to immigrants, says “It’s a joy to work with these people. It’s not hard to see how helping them integrate helps and enriches us.”

 This is the second year Steppin Stanzas will appear at StepTrek. In 2016, Ms. Corso and Mr. Edwards launched their poetry project with the help of a Sprout Fund grant. They performed with Ms. DeRoy and guitarist Aaron LeFebvre.


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