Trafford's Yoga Deck welcomes literary events
Tonya Spritz Kapis thought the empty storefront on Cavitt Avenue in Trafford would be a nice place to hold training sessions for aspiring yoga instructors. Perhaps she could teach a few classes, although she thought there were more “yoga studios than McDonald's” restaurants in the area.
Much to Kapis' surprise since opening in May, The Yoga Deck has attracted a loyal group of yoga enthusiasts and become a hub for a nascent literary scene. On Sept. 9, the venue will present Trafford Gets Lit, an event hosted by Lori Jakiela, a writer and poet from the town who also conducts memoir writing workshops at The Yoga Deck.
“I wasn't sure if there was need for it or if people would want it,” says Jakiela, a professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. “But I have been wanting to do something in my hometown. When you think about what your resources are, sometimes it's just what you can do. And the one thing I can do is teach writing.”
The workshop was created at the urging of Sylvia Catello, a Trafford resident who is friends with both Kapis and Jakiela. Catello admits she never took a writing class before coming up with the idea, but suspected there was a natural link between the two disciplines.
“It's been an amazing discovery for me,” Catello says. “It's been life changing. … The parallels between yoga and writing, we laugh about it because there are so many. You discover more about yourself and the world starts to unveil itself to you and you see things.”
When attendance at yoga classes exceeded her expectations, Kapis expanded the studio's offerings. The Yoga Deck also features tea-leaf readings, energy/meditation sessions, locally foraged teas, art and vintage and upcycled goods for sale. The writing workshops have been an unexpected and often surprising venture.
“When (Jakiela) is talking about writing prompts and says ‘You can start writing by saying just imagine,' that's something I say all the time when I'm leading (students) into mediation,” Kapis says. “Lori will come in and say something that I have said and I'll think, this is so much the same. ... I feel like it really goes together with tuning into who you are.”
All writers welcome
The workshops, which cost $15 per session, have attracted new and experienced writers. While ostensibly for memoir writing, fiction writers and poets are welcome to attend. There is crossover with yoga students taking the workshop and writers trying yoga for the first time.
Kapis admits she's been astounded by the feedback she's received from the community.
“It shocks everyone, including me,” Kapis says. “I mean that in a super positive way. I just thought I would have more time to organize. I haven't even put in place half the things I wanted to do, like the artist of the month. ... I borrowed chairs from St. Regis (Roman Catholic Church) for the workshop and the people in the office thanked me for opening a business in Trafford they felt was beneficial.”
Trafford Gets Lit takes place at 7 p.m., Sept. 9, and feature readings by Jakiela and students from the workshop. Admission is $5, with proceeds benefitting the Trafford Community Library.
More information about Trafford Gets Lit, yoga classes or writing workshops: 412-901-4545 or ultimahealing.com.
Sept. 8-9: Wordplay, hosted by Bricolage Production Company, featuring actors, writers and other literati reading stories to musical accompaniment. 8 p.m., 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $25. 412-471-0999 or bricolagepgh.secure.force.com/ticket
Sept. 8-9: Literazzi presents Naughty by Nature, A Literary Cabaret featuring literary characters as impish versions of themselves. Proceeds benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Literary Council. 10 p.m., Cattivo, Lawrenceville. $15, $10 advance. 412-687-2157 or cattivopittsburgh.com
Sept. 9: Taz Writers Conference, hosted by The Author's Zone, featuring workshops about fantasy fiction, children's literature, memoir writing and other topics. 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., CCAC, North Side. $94.89. facebook.com/events/297509757369407
Sept. 9: Beaver County BookFest, featuring national and regional authors of various genres. 9 a.m.- 4 p.m., Irvine Park, Beaver. Free. beavercountybookfest.com
Sept. 9: Matthew Newton, author of “Shopping Mall,” book launch party. 7 p.m., White Whale Bookshop, Bloomfield. Free. 412-224-2847, whitewhalebookstore.com
Sept. 12: Q&A with Kate Dopirak, children's picture book author. 9 a.m., Panera Bread, 12071 Perry Highway, Wexford. Free. facebook.com/events/1277235945715549
Sept. 12: Crafton Awake! Fall Poetry Series, featuring poets Angele Ellis and Bob Walicki. 6:30 p.m., Crafton Public Library. Free. 412-922-6877, craftonpubliclibrary.com
Sept. 16: Fall Festival of Local Writers. 11 a.m., McGinnis Sisters, Monroeville. Free. 412-858-7000, mcginnis-sisters.com
Sept. 17: Dav Pilkey, author of the “Captain Underpants” children's books. 2:30 p.m., Carnegie Library Lecture Hall, Oakland. Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Words & Pictures series. $11. 412-622-8866 or pittsburghlectures.org
Sept. 19: Nicole Krauss, author of “The History of Love” and the new novel “Forest Dark.” 7 p.m., Carnegie Library Lecture Hall, Oakland. Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures New & Noted series. $33 includes copy of “Forest Dark.” 412-622-8866 or pittsburghlectures.org
Sept. 19: Santiago Gamboa, Colombian author of “Return to the Dark Valley.” 8 p.m., Alphabet City, North Side. Free, reservation suggested. 412-435-1110 or alphabetcity.org
Sept. 20: Christopher George, author of “Day-by-day with the 123d Pennsylvania Volunteers: A Nine-month Civil War Regiment from Allegheny County.” 7 p.m., Peters Township Public Library, 616 E. McMurray Road. Free. 724-941-9430 or ptlibrary.org
Sept. 22: Writing from History, featuring Sheila Carter-Jones, Bill Steigerwald, Aaron Novick, Joan E. Bauer. 7 p.m., White Whale Bookshop, Bloomfield. Free. 412-224-2847 or whitewhalebookstore.com
Sept. 23: “Double Kiss: Stories, Poems & Essays on the Art of Billiards” book release party, featuring contributors Deborah Bogen, Chad Burrall, Marc Neison, MarLa Sink Druzgal, Jesse Waters and editor Sean Thomas Dougherty. 7 p.m., White Whale Bookshop, Bloomfield. Free. 412-224-2847 or whitewhalebookstore.com
Sept. 24: Pittsburgh Zine Fair, 2 p.m., Union Project, 801 Negley Ave., Highland Park. Free. facebook.com/events/312964935806648
Sept. 25: Nancy Isenberg, author of “White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America,” Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures' Ten Evenings series. 7:30 p.m., Carnegie Music Hall of Oakland. $15-35. 412-622-8866 or pittsburghlectures.org
Rege Behe is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.
Correction: Aug. 28, 2017
This story was modified to correct the spelling of Sylvia Catello.