Sharp Lit

Established in the mid-’70s, Hemingway's summer series brings together big-name local authors and up-and-coming poets.




 

Oakland in the summertime is a beast of a different stripe. The hubbub and bustle that comes with being a college town settles to a low simmer in the absence of the students. The Cathedral of Learning lawn sunbathers and Frisbee tossers take over, and traffic on Forbes and Fifth thins out. But Oakland is no ghost town. Visitors file in from all over to check out the Carnegie Museums and Phipps Conservatory, picnic in Schenley Park and visit the shops on Craig Street. And every Tuesday night from May through July, crowds gather in the back room of an unassuming pub.

At Hemingway’s Café, a grand tradition of Pittsburgh literary culture has continued unabated since the mid-1970s. The café’s summer reading series attracts some of the finest voices in the city to share their work with an appreciative, attentive audience. Run from the beginning by poet Jimmy Cvetic, the reading series has been going strong for nearly 40 years.

“Bruce Dobler and Ed Ochester were running the Pitt series, and they wanted to continue it in the summer,” Cvetic says. “I had no ties to Pitt, CMU or Duquesne. Being as I was neutral, they asked me to do it — they didn’t want to overload it with readers from any one group. We’ve always guarded against that.”

This openness to all is one of the hallmarks of the series. On any given Tuesday, you can hear writers affiliated with long-established groups (like The Pittsburgh Poetry Society) side by side with folks associated with the academic scene of the university writing departments and smaller, looser confederations (like the Six Gallery and Autumn House presses).

For the past several years, Cvetic’s right hand in curating the series has been poet Joan Bauer, who “makes sure the poets know how many minutes they can read and ensures that everyone’s name and credits are spelled right [on the schedule].”

The two work collaboratively to produce a full and varied schedule every summer. Bauer handles the promotion and maintains an online presence, while Cvetic (the charmer) remains front and center at the events; he stands with a mic in hand, playing host and giving every reader welcoming, and often hilarious, introductions — essentially putting everyone at ease.

Since it’d be impossible to feature everyone who wants to read on an evening’s bill, the pair offers an open mic after the scheduled poets finish. The upside to being bold and talking in front of the crowd is that many poets are asked to come back later as featured readers.

The series has developed a loyal core of attendees. Most evenings, poets such as Edna Machesney and Lucille Seibert come out as readers and as enthusiastic members of the audience.

Renée Alberts, founder of the Carnegie Library Sunday Poetry & Reading Series, says that she discovered the series while in school and “saw [it] as the mark of being recognized as a poet in the city.”

“I wanted to read for it so badly,” she remembers. “It was a real honor when Joan invited me last year. It’s completely unpretentious. I love how all summer long you can squeeze through this crowded bar and find an oasis of poetry in the back room.”

Fred Peterson, past president of the Pittsburgh Poetry Society, is also a regular attendee who supplies the microphone and PA system (along with the help of the Society, of course).

“As far as the poets are concerned, I am constantly amazed at the quality and variety, as well as the selflessness of most,” Peterson says. “When I see poets come not just to read, but to listen to others read, it makes me realize that we are all part of a community of poets and lovers of poetry.”

Looking back at the series, “it’s the fair play of it all” that Cvetic takes the most pride in. “It’s never been a place of exclusion,” he says. “I’ve included as many poets as possible. We invite everyone to come out — it’s fun!”

Hemingway’s Summer Reading Series
Tuesdays, May 1-July 31
(3911 Forbes Ave., Oakland, 412/621-4100, pghpoetryexchange.pghfree.net)

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

Love it or hate it, winter is upon us. Because some of us may think there's a lot not to like, we bring you 50+ things to eat, drink and do –– and some helpful tips –– that'll keep the blues at bay.
Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine presents the honorees from its inaugural Excellence in Nursing awards. Meet our judges' choices and learn what makes them remarkable in their field.
Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

A regal ruggedness characterizes the season's menswear looks.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Welcome New Year With New Things At Pittsburgh's First Night

Welcome New Year With New Things At Pittsburgh's First Night

The annual New Year’s Eve event features food, fireworks, music and more.
Antonio Brown Makes Catch on the Field but Loses the Pizza

Antonio Brown Makes Catch on the Field but Loses the Pizza

The Steelers wide receiver stars in a new commercial where he first loses out to a Patriots' cornerback, but gets his revenge when it counts the most.
Never Wait in a Long Line For a Drink in a Crowded Bar Again

Never Wait in a Long Line For a Drink in a Crowded Bar Again

A new app developed in Pittsburgh, is designed to get more customers served more quickly when the bartender is swamped.
Sweet Surprise: Kelly Frey Awarded for ‘Sharing Her Heart‘

Sweet Surprise: Kelly Frey Awarded for ‘Sharing Her Heart‘

The mother of a child with special needs, Frey tirelessly shares what she has learned with other families in similar situations.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

Love it or hate it, winter is upon us. Because some of us may think there's a lot not to like, we bring you 50+ things to eat, drink and do –– and some helpful tips –– that'll keep the blues at bay.
Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine presents the honorees from its inaugural Excellence in Nursing awards. Meet our judges' choices and learn what makes them remarkable in their field.
Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

A regal ruggedness characterizes the season's menswear looks.
Restaurant Review: B52 in Lawrenceville is a Levantine Lifter

Restaurant Review: B52 in Lawrenceville is a Levantine Lifter

Omar Abuhejleh taps deep into his roots at his vegan cafe that's focused on Levantine cuisine.
Why You Can't Beat The Weather in Pittsburgh in The Winter

Why You Can't Beat The Weather in Pittsburgh in The Winter

I’ve traveled a lot of miles, and I still stare in bewilderment at people who tell me they’ve moved to a place because “You can’t beat the weather.”
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Welcome New Year With New Things At Pittsburgh's First Night

Welcome New Year With New Things At Pittsburgh's First Night

The annual New Year’s Eve event features food, fireworks, music and more.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Miracle on Liberty Pops Up in Pittsburgh

Miracle on Liberty Pops Up in Pittsburgh

The holiday themed cocktail bar is one of around 20 international Miracle popups.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best of the Burgh: Pumpkin Patches in the Pittsburgh Area

Best of the Burgh: Pumpkin Patches in the Pittsburgh Area

We’ve compiled the best pumpkin patches for fall family fun.

Comments


Why Wait For Summer? Head to Kennywood's Holiday Lights

Why Wait For Summer? Head to Kennywood's Holiday Lights

The park's winter celebration is great for families and a fine choice for anyone who loves Christmas (and/or funnel cake).

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pittsburgh The Heart of the NFL? Yinz Got that Right

Pittsburgh The Heart of the NFL? Yinz Got that Right

At the NFL Scouting Combine, at the NFL Draft and wherever NFL games are played, there’s often something of a Western Pennsylvania reunion taking place.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Locket Full of Joy

Locket Full of Joy

The handcrafted piece opens to hidden treasures.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Ten Upcoming Flicks Every Oscar-Watcher Should See

Ten Upcoming Flicks Every Oscar-Watcher Should See

PM film critic Sean Collier picks ten forthcoming flicks likely to rake in nominations for the 89th Academy Awards.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Real-Pittsburgh Weddings: It was Not Love at First Sight

Real-Pittsburgh Weddings: It was Not Love at First Sight

These romances were years in the making.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Seasonal Shopping: CMOA Store Holiday House, J.Crew Mercantile Opens Doors

Seasonal Shopping: CMOA Store Holiday House, J.Crew Mercantile Opens Doors

The Carnegie Museum of Art is full of Christmas cheer — and great deals. Plus, get the scoop on The Block Northway’s latest retail offering.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Tuba and Euphonium Players Invited to Join in Christmas Concert

Tuba and Euphonium Players Invited to Join in Christmas Concert

Waynesburg University will present a TUBACHRISTMAS concert on Dec. 9.

Comments