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The Tankman’s Elegy with Ed Roberson

April 11 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT

For this night of subversive and subaquatic verse, award-winning poet Ed Roberson shares new poems from his latest collection, Aquarium Works. In his time as a research assistant in limnology, Ed studied inland and coastal freshwater systems on trips to Alaska and Bermuda. His scientific research and his role in the Explorers Club of Pittsburgh’s South America expeditions ultimately led him to a job working with exotic underwater animals. For several years in the late 1960s, he was employed as a diver and tankman at the newly formed Pittsburgh AquaZoo (now the PPG Aquarium), where he fed, cared for, and in some cases trained the creatures described in Aquarium Works. Widely acclaimed as one of the most significant writers of ecopoetry of our time, Roberson’s focus never moves far from the unnatural dominance of racial whiteness and the destruction that dominance has inflicted upon our shared world. In his many published books, as in this one, he provides an unwhite (and unwhiting) take on our environment and the language we use to invoke it. 

This reading is followed by a moderated conversation with Allegheny County’s Poet Laureate Doralee Brooks, an audience Q&A, and a book signing. You can purchase your own copy of Ed’s book, Aquarium Works, at City of Asylum Bookstore.

About The Author:

Ed Roberson (he/him) is the author of thirteen books of poetry, including MPH and Other Road Poems and Asked What Has Changed, a finalist for the Griffin Poetry Prize. Ed’s poetry is deeply informed by his engagement with the natural world, his interests in spirituality and visual art, and his lifelong travels. His most recent collection, Aquarium Works, details his experiences in the 1960s as a diver and tankman at the Pittsburgh AquaZoo (now the PPG Aquarium). Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Ed also worked in the area’s steel mills, in an advertising graphics agency, and as a research assistant in limnology. A Chicagoan since 2004, Ed has taught at Columbia College, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern University. He has also held posts at the University of California, Berkeley, and at the Cave Canem Retreat for Black Writers. His many honors include the Jackson Poetry Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

About the Moderator:

Doralee Brooks holds an MEd from the University of Pittsburgh and an MFA from Carlow University. She is Professor Emerita of Developmental Studies at the Community College of Allegheny County. In 1995, Doralee became a fellow of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, a national writing project for teachers of kindergarten through college who endorse the practice of writing instruction in every discipline. In 1997, she led a community group for girls in Homestead who called themselves The Spice Writers. In 1997 and 1999, Doralee received fellowships to Cave Canem. Currently, Doralee facilitates writing workshops in poetry at Carlow University, and her poems have appeared in several journals including Voices from the Attic, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Uppagus, Dos Passos Review, and Paterson Literary Review. Her chapbook, “When I Hold You Up to the Light,” won the 2019 Cathy Smith Bowers Poetry Prize sponsored by Main Street Rag.

About Your Visit: 

There will be a meet and greet with Ed and Doralee prior to the program from 6-7 PM. Complimentary wine and cheese will be provided.

The in-house restaurant 40 North will be closed, but a cash wine bar will be available.

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April 11
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT
Program Category:


Alphabet City
40 W. North Avenue
Pittsburgh,PA15212United States
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