The Pittsburgh Poetry Collective makes and holds space for self-expression, identity exploration, & social justice via spoken word communities, poetry slam, writing & performance workshops, and poet showcases. We welcome any opportunity for lyrical mayhem and believe that poetry heals, speaks, connects, and shares our experiences and differences.
The Steel City Slam adult poetry slam league was founded in 1995 under the Suncrumbs’ 501(c)3 to build community around poetry and spoken word in Pittsburgh. After Suncrumbs’ dissolution in 2003, the Steel City Slam continued to operate at the Shadow Lounge in East Liberty under the shepherding of a continuous and dedicated group of volunteer.. We were the only Poetry Slam, Inc. registered in the city of Pittsburgh. In 2014, under the Steel City Slam leadership committee of Adriana Ramírez, William James, Tera McIntosh, and Lori Beth Jones, the Pittsburgh Poetry Collective was incorporated as a Pennsylvania non-profit organization. We appreciate and acknowledge the invaluable contributions of many volunteers over our long history. We remember and remind people that the Steel City Slam was started by WOC. We make and hold space for diverse voices in diverse rooms. We are a member of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, Littsburgh, Pittsburgh Literary Calendar and more!
In the interest of our goal to foster and promote the growth of poetry and spoken word in Pittsburgh, many Steel City Slam poets have represented the Steel City at the National Poetry Slam, Individual World Poetry Slam, and Womxn of the World Poetry Slam as part of PSi. The Pittsburgh Poetry Collective has hosted and attended many regional tournaments as well. After the closure of the Shadow Lounge, the Steel City Slam spent some time at brillobox before settling into an almost four year run at Capri Pizzeria in East Liberty. Beginning September 2018, Steel City Slam had an incredibly successful run at the Full Pint Wild Side Pub in upper Lawrenceville. We are excited to branch out in 2020 and offer monthly slams in two different locations. We hope this will further increase accessibility for our performers and audience.
Our marquee shows and Grand Slams were held at the Union Project until 2016 when we entered into a partnership with City of Asylum to stage shows in their tent and the brand new Alphabet City Center. (Our 2016 WoWPS qualifier actually took place before the Alphabet City Center was officially open!)
Our current board members are: Sarah Rose (she/her), Von Brown (he/him), Lori Beth (she/her), Doug Nuhfer aka “The Nuhf” (he/they), and Tucker Pavelek (he/him).
Our flagship program, the Steel City Slam, now takes place at 7:45PM on the second Tuesday of the month at The PA Market in the Strip District and the fourth Tuesday of the month at The Abbey in Lawrenceville. It is a standard slam with 3 rounds and 3-5 judges selected from the audience. For more information, please visit the #SteelCitySlam page!
Liner Notes is a celebration and poetic tribute to a musical selection and a showcase of new work by local poets. Liner Notes is returning to our regular rotation on the third Tuesday of the month in January 2020 at Black Forge Coffee House in McKees Rocks. For more information, please visit the Liner Notes page!
Poetry & Pints Nothing but poetry love and a good pint – a reading series that’s all about the work. P&P was started in 2016 by our friend GS Murphy and is the newest addition to the Pittsburgh Poetry Collective fold! Poetry & Pints is returning to regular monthly events in January 2020 at Burgh’ers Brewing in Lawrenceville. For more information, please visit the Poetry & Pints page!
Pittsburgh Poetry Calendar
In 2015, The Pittsburgh Poetry Collective created the Pittsburgh Poetry Calendar Facebook group to share Facebook events, accomplishments, and other information related to poetry in the Pittsburgh region. Members are free to post info about readings and other poetry events, calls for submissions, book releases, and whatever else might be of interest to poets and poetry lovers of the Pittsburgh region. We also have a Meetup group! https://www.meetup.com/Pittsburgh-Poetry-Collective/
From 2012-2018, the Pittsburgh Poetry Collective managed a workshop and open mic series geared towards writers and performers age 13-19. Young Steel started at Cannon Coffee in Brookline under the leadership of William James and Tera McIntosh, then moved to the Union Project. On February 5, 2013 Young Steel received a City of Pittsburgh proclamation from District 4 city councilor Natalia Rudiak and youth poets Nina Barone, Jude Waldo, and Anna Voelker performed in Pittsburgh City Council chambers. It was relaunched by Jesse Welch, Heather Kresge, and Michael Alden at the Carnegie Library East Liberty teen department and then at the Mattress Factory on the North Side.
At this time, the Pittsburgh Poetry Collective does not manage a youth program. We do make an effort to hold our events in all ages spaces, and we recommend following Write Pittsburgh and Queer Punk Slam Junk for writing and performance opportunities for young people in the Pittsburgh area.
Workshops and Booking
We may be available to facilitate writing & performance workshops or connect you with performance poets to perform at your upcoming event. Please contact us.
Interested in assisting the PPC/Steel City Slam? We ask that you attend one of our events and speak with members of the PPC board. We offer volunteer opportunities that include: community engagement, social media management, venue liaison, feature booking and artist liaison, and day-of-show management.
The Pittsburgh Poetry Collective and all of its projects are committed to maintaining free speech zones within their venues by the construction and preservation of a Brave Space and practicing mandatory consent. Any violation of our policies or another member in our community’s safety could lead to disciplinary action that may include being banned from future Pittsburgh Poetry Collective and associated events including the Steel City Slam. We have a conflict resolution process in place. Please email us for more information or to initiate this process.