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'Radical Writers Rise Up' will feature both established and new authors, performers

Patrick Varine
| Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, 7:33 p.m.
Above, artwork from Rick Claypool’s novel, 'Leech Girl Lives.'
Submitted artwork
Above, artwork from Rick Claypool’s novel, 'Leech Girl Lives.'

On Oct. 23, several Pittsburgh authors will unite under the banner of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America for an evening of stories and poetry expressing working-class struggles and injustice under capitalism.

“For me, being a democratic socialist is first and foremost about fighting exploitation,” said author and organizer Rick Claypool, 38, of Forest Hills. “(My book), ‘Leech Girl Lives’ is a super-weird science fiction thriller, with time travel and cyborgs and giant mutant tardigrades. But it’s also the story of how its heroine discovers her distant-future society’s horrifically exploitative underpinnings, then fights back.”

The common thread throughout the writers’ work is the expression of socialist values and the common struggles of being a literary artist under capitalism.

“Radical Writers Rise Up: A Pittsburgh DSA Poetry and Fiction Reading,” will begin at 7 p.m., on Oct. 23 at the Glitterbox Theater, 460 Melwood Avenue in Pittsburgh, and will feature artists representing a range of styles, from science fiction and fantasy to hip-hop spoken word, and includes both seasoned, established authors as well as emerging literary voices.

“Here in Pittsburgh, we have a thriving literary community and an active, engaged, and growing DSA chapter,” Claypool said. “The interesting thing, I think, isn’t so much the idea of art being used to draw people toward democratic socialism, but the idea of democratic socialists creating a space for the enjoyment and celebration of art that reflects values shared by lots of Pittsburghers, socialist and non-socialist alike.”

Poets and authors who will be performing at the event include:

• Robin Clarke, author of “ Lines the Quarry ,” which explores environmental disasters and the possibilities opened up by radical movements, and interrogates the many violations that define capitalist exploitation.

• Selene Sepackh, author of “ Troubleshooting ,” a dystopian saga told through the eyes of a fierce female gender-queer narrator and through which readers learn what it is to be autistic in the novel’s new world order.

Corey Carrington , a writer and artist from Pittsburgh’s North Side. Carrington has performed under the name Grits Capone and uses creativity to effect positive social change and explore themes of identity and connectivity.

• Jamie Lackey, author of “ Left Hand Gods ,” and short-story collections.

Claypool , whose “Leech Girl Lives” tells the science-fiction story of a leech-armed heroine who joins a revolution against an art-loving but hyper-exploitative society.

• LUC, a Pittsburgh hip-hop artist who produces his own music and is part of the 1Hood Collective of socially-conscious artists and activists.

• Karen Lillis, who runs Karen’s Book Row , which specializes in feminist fiction, LGBT literature and other counterculture works.

“It is important that we, as socialists, celebrate the poetry and stories that give voice to the struggles of the oppressed,” Claypool said. “Art gives us strength to endure the most challenging struggles, and it stokes the imagination, helping us see how another world could be possible.”

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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