Writers' Café

About the Café

Writing can be a solitary art. Whether you are a Writing major or are simply deeply interested in writing, take time to find an informal community of Pitt writers at the Writers' Café. Make contacts with other writers, try your hand at different genres, let guided freewriting exercises jumpstart your process, and share feedback on works-in-progress with peers from all over campus. At the Writers' Café, you'll get leads on publishing opportunities and contests and enjoy a supportive environment for trying out your work on new readers and listeners. 

Sessions are facilitated by practicing creative writers, often from the Pitt faculty. Typical sessions include craft talks, writing in response to prompts, and sharing that writing. Start your weekend the "write" way by being part of the Writers' Café.

This fall, the Writers' Café sessions will be held either in person or remotely, via Zoom. Register for each session via the registration links listed below. 

The Writing Center has a number of creative writing faculty on staff as tutors, and you are ALWAYS WELCOME to get one-on-one feedback on poetry, fiction, and nonfiction at the Center. 

If you have questions, contact April Flynn or Sarah Leavens, the Writers' Café coordinators, via email or at 412-624-6556.


Fall 2022 Sessions Fridays from 3:30 to 5



December 2 - "Glass Half-Full: Articulating Joy" with Sampsonia Way (in person in the Writing Center)

The poet Toi Derricotte once observed that “joy is an act of resistance.” In a world full of so much madness and chaos, we happen to agree! Joy is an act that we can articulate and practice. It's a way for us to de-stress and to make sense of the world around us. Join the staff writers of Sampsonia Way Magazine for a series of writing exercises designed to boost our vibes and articulate joy. Take a break from the hectic end-of-term crunch for snacks, writing exercises, and a joyful head space! Writers of all genres and at any stage are welcome! 

As the in-house magazine for City of Asylum, Sampsonia Way Magazine is devoted to literary freedom of expression and giving voice to persecuted writers. The online literary magazine operates as a publishing partnership between City of Asylum and the Public & Professional Writing Program, providing an incubator for advocacy journalism and fostering a global literary community. Each term, Pitt students serve as staff members, working to create and edit articles, curate literary works, conduct interviews, and manage the publicity of the magazine. 

Fall 2022 // Sampsonia Way Staff
Tim Maddocks, Managing Editor
Odessa Patmos, Assistant Editor
Daishon Spann, Assistant Editor
Alyssa Machi, Staff Writer
Ebonee Rice-Nguyen, Staff Writer
Leah Simpson, Staff Writer
Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Writer
Paige Wasserman, Staff Writer


November 4 - "Mind Your Business: Working Writers Can't Eat Exposure" with Joshua M. Patton and Nina Sabak (in person)

There are two wolves inside of you. One is a mercenary willing to do anything for money that allows you to legitimately call yourself a "writer." The other is an artist, a truthteller that cares only about molding the music of language to say something. beautiful and real. Neither one wins, because they both die of starvation after being asked to work only for exposure. Join fellow Pitt Panthers Nina Sabak and Joshua M. Patton as they share what they've learned in the years since putthing Cathy in their rearview mirrors. You've practiced the craft, now go pro by learning how to blend your artistic sensibilities with the unforgiving, real-world demands of the writing business via exercises that help you organize your ideas, create an action plan to realize them, and then pitch them to a publisher/outlet/etc. 

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and alum of the Pitt Writing Program. He started writing for the internet when both were just kids, today yelling about television on Comic Book Resources. Along with entertainment writing, he spent over ten years working as a journalist on the politics, policy, veteran, and justice beats. He's independently published two books, a collection of superhero-themed short stories he wasn't allowed to write for his fiction classes and a collection of short fiction, non-fiction, and poetry he wrote for them instead. He was the best star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend.

Nina Sabak is a fiction writer who earned both her BA (2013) and MFA (2016) from the University of Pittsburgh. After graduation, she moved to NYC to pursue a publishing career and presently works as editor of Publishing Trends and Publishing Trendsetter, as well as director of research and editorial for Market Partners International. Her writing has appeared in The Rumpus, Plain China, Gravel, and Bartleby Snopes, and in 2012 she published a chapbook with the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, Naming the Mountain. These days she lives in Garfield with her cat, Leonardo.


October 21 - "List-Making as Essay" with Neema Avashia (virtual via Zoom; CLICK HERE TO REGISTER)

Ever feel like you have a bunch of tiny vignettes that aren't big enough to be a whole essay, but resonant enough that you want to find a way to use them? In this session, we'll explore how to take the fragments of essays floating around in our heads, and organize them into a list essay that coheres around a theme. We will read a few examples, and then have time to work on our own lists. At the end of the session, there will be time for folks to share their work.

Neema Avashia is the daughter of Indian immigrants, and was born and raised in southern West Virginia. She has been a teacher in the Boston Public Schools since 2003. Her first book, Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place, was published by West Virginia University Press in March. It has been called “A timely collection that begins to fill the gap in literature focused mainly on the white male experience” by Ms. Magazine, and “A graceful exploration of identity, community, and contradictions,” by Scalawag.