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PLACEMENTS {BY FRED SHAW}

Although there are vacations and many innings of Pirates baseball still to be had, summer’s dog days can feel overlooked or transitional as the run-up to the school year begins. But in the final poem of his debut full-length collection, Advice From the Bed of a Friend (Main Street Rag, $14), local poet John Stupp asks anyone ready to concede the season to reconsider. “In an August That Is Forgotten Already,” Stupp writes: “Who cannot be inspired by endless blue waves / the horizon breaking as far as the eye can see — / wave-tops shattering beneath an undying sun / on the hottest afternoon / in an August already forgotten.” The poem continues in this vein, using repetition of the phrase “blue waves” to emphasize the powerful contemplation that often goes along with nearness to the ocean. These natural settings and the descriptions that follow play an important role in his work. For Stupp, a jazz musician, Ohio native and resident of Sewickley, both local and global travel seem linchpins for inspiration. And with poems set in Idaho, Vancouver, Mexico and Pittsburgh’s South Side, among other places, imagery gives a foundation and clarity to his lines. The small moments count for something less fleeting than mere impressions. A good example is “Idaho Winter”: “Near a junkyard / on the Payette / trout are swimming / down a rusty spillway / banging their fins / on the metal surface / of magnetic north.” Often in these 89 pages, the natural and civilized worlds overlap, and it makes for an interesting contrast that Stupp successfully employs throughout, with many poems taking place in or near bodies of water. In fact, much of the final section of the book centers on an emotionally moving visit to Mexico’s Pacific coast, highlighted in the poems “Lluvia Azul,” “Blue Pacific” and “Flash Flood.” While few poems touch on Stupp’s musical experiences, several baseballfocused ones seem timely with the Buccos contending. A favorite, the forgiving “What Ralph Terry Said,” concerns Game 7 of the legendary 1960 World Series, and the aftermath for the losing pitcher of that upset. Stupp writes: “If he’d live to be a thousand / he’d never escape / the prop wash / from Mazeroski’s drive — / a churning wake / blown like a nail through his heart …” It’s another powerful image powering Advice toward solid achievement.

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M A I N F E AT U R E

The Sounds of Summer with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and guests Come hear the sounds of the summer as played by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in the beautiful Elsie H. HillmanAuditorium. Featured Artists include Lawrence Loh, conductor, Jasmine Muhammad, soprano, Jennifer Orchard, violin and Lorna McGhee, flute. In addition to the symphony performance, the evening will include a new exhibit in the Kaufmann Gallery featuring artists Tina Williams Brewer and Bill Double titled, Dignity: Renditions and Inspiration, featuring photos by Mr. Double and Story Quilts by Ms. Williams-Brewer.

Tickets are available at www.showclix.com TickETS for adults and  for seniors and students in advance and  at the door For Info on events at the Kaufmann Center go to:

www.hillhouse.org or call 412.281.1026 Elsie H. Hillman Auditorium aTTHE+AUFMANN#ENTERs#ENTre Avenue, Pittsburgh P!

SALUTE TO VETERANS PRESENTED BY THE

WITH SPECIAL GUEST

ROCKY BLEIER MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 7 P.M. Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, Oakland Free admission for veterans and active military with registration at pittsburghsymphony.org/vets

TICKETS ARE ONLY $15!

INFO@PGHCITYPAPER.COM

INFO@ PGHC ITY PAP ER.CO M

NEWS

Thursday, September 3 beginning aT0-

[BOOK REVIEW]

Featured Soprano JASMINE-UHAMMAD

ferret it out ourselves if we so choose. Only a couple of photographs indicate their specific setting. One of these is perhaps the show’s most riveting piece, in which a man sits wearily on a red brick porch, U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson Works looming behind him. Both are smoking. Everything is worn and tired and rusted and eroded, but nothing is quite finished yet, and you’re not sure whether the surety of continuance is promise or punishment. In another photo, while a gaggle of boisterous youths and beleaguered adults reveals nothing of the image’s origins by the environment in frame, they seem unmistakably British, especially the lad dominating the shot and capturing our eye, for whom the term “cheeky” could have been invented. In some instances, Neville’s subjects pose with self-awareness; in many, they’re caught in the midst of engagement with something other than the camera. Often, the latter means they’re on the dance floor. Six of the images are devoted to these jampacked, throbbing, sweaty spaces. This is somewhat curious, as that number is half the total of works on view. That veers toward overkill in a show not specifically composed of images of dance floors. It’s apparent enough why one might gravitate toward including so many such shots: When poking at class distinctions, racial privilege and economic disparity, on their respective dance floors, the contrast between one group and another is glaring. Taking an image of a posse of moneyed London bankers and brokers glowing golden with affluence and setting it catty-corner to a now-shuttered South Side nightclub is irresistible, if maybe a little easy. Forgivably so: In the twin seas of writhing humanity — one with platinum jewelry, platinum cards, expensive haircuts and bespoke suits, the other with oversized gold trinkets, pockets full of cash, cheap tattoos and wearied Spandex — each features a reddressed Aphrodite standing tall front and center. But we don’t need four more shots of clubs and proms and raves, and we feel a little cheated that we were denied more range when presumably it was available. Reaching the end of this brief journey through London/Pittsburgh, we’re left moved, thoughtful, intrigued, but not satisfied. One way to look at this show is that it’s incomplete and doesn’t reach fruition. With a chaser of a glass half-full, we can regard this exhibition as a door cracked ajar, with more to be yielded if we’ll do the work of pushing it open to look further.

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TA S T E

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MUSIC

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SCREEN

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ARTS

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EVENTS

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CLASSIFIEDS

47

Profile for Pittsburgh City Paper

August 26, 2015  

Pittsburgh City Paper Volume 25 Issue 34

August 26, 2015  

Pittsburgh City Paper Volume 25 Issue 34