Author, Photographer, Literary Activist
Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
Paola Corso is the author of seven poetry and fiction books set in her native Pittsburgh where her Southern Italian immigrant family worked in the steel mills. Her books include newly released VERTICAL BRIDGES: POEMS AND PHOTOGRAPHS OF CITY STEPS, THE LAUNDRESS CATCHES HER BREATH, winner of the Tillie Olsen Award in Creative Writing, ONCE I WAS TOLD THE AIR WAS NOT FOR BREATHING, winner of the Triangle Fire Memorial Association Award, and CATINA'S HAIRCUT: A NOVEL IN STORIES, a Sons of Italy National Book Club Selection.
Her work has appeared in venues such as NEW YORK TIMES, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, Writer's Digest, Women’s Review of Books, U.S. Catholic, The Progressive, and numerous anthologies.
Honors include a NEW YORK FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS POETRY FELLOWSHIP, a SHERWOOD ANDERSON FICTION PRIZE, inclusion on the PENNSYLVANIA CENTER FOR THE BOOK'S CULTURAL MAP, and National Endowment for the Arts WritersCorps Artist Residency.
A literary activist, Paola Corso is co-founder/resident artist of STEPPIN STANZAS, a grant-awarded poetry and art project celebrating city steps, and co-founder/poet activist of THE FERLINGHETTI GIRLS. Corso exhibits her photographs as a member of PARK SLOPE WINDSOR TERRACE ARTISTS.
She divides her time between New York City’s grid and Pittsburgh’s grade.
VERTICAL BRIDGES: POEMS AND PHOTOGRAPHS OF CITY STEPS
“Corso’s unforgettable steps are the slow climb to Heaven. This is a remarkably imaginative book replete with stunning photographs by Corso herself.”
A Tillie Olsen Award Winner
"Corso draws us into the grimy world of factory and clothesline, diner and lung disease with extraordinary skill. Her collection is in fact breathtaking."
—SANDRA M. GILBERT
ONCE I WAS TOLD THE AIR WAS NOT FOR BREATHING
A Triangle Fire Memorial Association Awardee
"These essential and heart-breaking poems are pure oxygen. Breathe deeply and learn from this wise poet."
A NOVEL IN STORIES
A Sons of Italy
National Book Club Selection
"Corso follows an Italian family through four generations from the Calabrian town of San Procopio to Pittsburgh in this fable-like follow-up to Giovanna's 86 Circles.... The stories, individually, find moments of inspired, ethereal revelation."
GIOVANNA'S 86 CIRCLES AND OTHER STORIES
A John Garnder Book Award Finalist
"...memorable and entrancing...powerful in the moment thanks to the imagery's dream-like density."
DEATH BY RENAISSANCE
with photos by George Thomas Mendel
Debut Book of Poetry
"Few books address the anxiety of moving between classes and the assimilation of second-generation immigrants with such urgency and poetic capability as Paola Corso's Death by Renaissance."
—THE INDIANA REVIEW
“Pittsburgh is a confluence of three rivers, but then came a day I looked up from the valley to the hills and saw what’s between: public stairways—more than any other city in the country. City steps and steps in the city. Steps to admire for their architectural beauty. Steps my grandfather, a stone mason from Sicily, built. Steps my Calabrian father climbed to and from the steel mill. The more I saw, the more I realized what I had overlooked since childhood. Steps are vertical bridges, and I want to cross them in my poetry and photography. As connections in the landscape. Connections we make with each other. That middle ground where we meet.”
From Paola Corso's book, VERTICAL BRIDGES: POEMS AND PHOTOGRAPHS OF CITY STEPS