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Aspinwall artists perform with Steppin Stanzas to celebrate Pittsburgh public steps

Tawnya Panizzi
| Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, 12:00 p.m.
Steppin Stanzas, performers at South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association's Step Trek, include poet Andrew Edwards, belly dance artist Sahra DeRoy, poet Paola Corso and guitarist Aaron Lefebvre.
submitted by Ben FIlio
Steppin Stanzas, performers at South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association's Step Trek, include poet Andrew Edwards, belly dance artist Sahra DeRoy, poet Paola Corso and guitarist Aaron Lefebvre.

Aspinwall residents Andrew Edwards and Keiko Maeda will perform with Steppin Stanzas at the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association's 17th annual StepTrek on Oct. 7.

The event is aimed at celebrating Pittsburgh public steps, like the mosaic art project completed along Oakley Street.

Steppin Stanzas will perform "On the Way Up: City Steps, City Immigrants," a mix of poetry, music, dance, and art that pays tribute to early immigrants who built city stairways and those who now care for them, said Edwards, group cofounder.

"The hard work to build and maintain our vast network of city steps parallels an immigrant's journey to assimilation," he said.

"There are steps forward, steps backward and steps waiting," added poet and literary activist Paola Corso, former Aspinwall resident and group cofounder.

Corso will read original poems based on vintage photographs of immigrants building city steps and memories of her Italian immigrant father. She is the author of six books of poetry and fiction, all set in her native Pittsburgh where her Italian immigrant family found work in the steel mills. Writing honors include a New York Foundation for the Arts poetry fellowship, Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.

Corso curated "Writers in the Wall," a reading series and writing workshop held for the Aspinwall community in the borough office.

Edwards, the son of Scotch Irish and Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, will give a multi-lingual performance. He is a writer, teacher and librarian who studied Spanish and creative writing at Ohio Wesleyan University. Edwards is the author of The Kobe Reality Series, a book of poetry based on his experience living in Japan.

Joining the Steppin Stanzas will be artists Michael DeLauro, an Emmy-winning director and producer of documentaries; fusion dancer 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.

Telfer, who also teaches citizenship to immigrants, said, "It's a joy to work with these people. It's not hard to see how helping them integrate helps and enriches us."

For more on StepTrek, visit southsideslopes.org/2017/08/steptrek-2017.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, tpanizzi@tribweb.com or @tawnyatrib.

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