Poems and Photographs of City Steps by Paola Corso
(Six Gallery Press, Fall 2020)
“Under Corso’s nimble juggling of words and images staircases become the soul of a city, and Pittsburgh’s city staircases become a series of paths leading elsewhere—from China to Norway, from Italy back to the Three Rivers again. Together these narratives construct a fascinating ecology of urban spaces, emphasizing the delicate lives and quotidian strength of those who climb up and down: workers, immigrants, children, lovers. In each direction, these poetic flights offer an all-encompassing view.” —LAURA E. RUBERTO, Berkeley City College
"The author evokes a beauty that is both authentic and resonant from the commonplace....staircases as repositories of meaning beyond the usual ups and downs of poetic imagery."
—Ovunque Siamo: New Italian American Writing
"...wonderful addition to school library collections in and around Pittsburgh and those looking to broaden their poetry collections. It is also a great text for teaching creative writing and using images with writing."
—Pennsylvania School Librarians Association
“…Corso hones in most powerfully, in the triumphal poems telling the story of her father, Mariano Procopio Corso, a native of Calabria who flourished in the United States.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"This collection of poems and photographs is a love letter to Pittsburgh’s famously steep walkways."
—KRISTOFER COLLINS, Pittsburgh Magazine
"In poems contemplative, lyric, hybrid, and explosive, Corso stays true to her working-class roots. This book is an ethnography of steps, a method of ascent crafted by artisans – like these poems – through back-breaking toil. But Corso’s poems scale other heights as well into social consciousness, advocacy, empathy and action, abiding love, acceptance. She celebrates those who climb them: the downtrodden and demonized; the invisible; the fellaheen; the immigrant, including her Calabrian father and Sicilian grandfather. This is a remarkably imaginative book – replete with archival photographs and equally stunning photographs by Corso herself. Her unforgettable steps are the slow climb to Heaven.”
—JOSEPH BATHANTI, North Carolina Poet Laureate (2012-14) and author of East Liberty
"Pittsburghers will love Paola Corso's mix of poetry and poetic imagery in Vertical Bridges, from histories of the city’s staircases to stories that unfolded along them over time. It’s good to see stairways being celebrated, preserved, and loved—in print and in real life.”
—BRIAN A. BUTKO, Heinz History Center, award-winning author of popular history
“I have expressed Pittsburgh’s city steps using maps and photographs. Here Paola Corso has done so with words and style, imagery and feelings. She offers a delightful way to experience the steps not only in Pittsburgh but around the world.”
—BOB REGAN, The Steps of Pittsburgh
"When you come upon a book like this so immersed in a sense of place and people you want to thank the author for caring so much and so well. Combining the deep archival photos of Pittsburgh's many stairways up and down its hills with words to capture its significance in real and imagined lives, Paola Corso delivers us home."
—LARRY SMITH, Mingo Town and Memories
"If Corso’s journey, centered in her hometown of Pittsburgh but also expanding to encompass steps created around the world—is, in poet Joseph Bathanti’s words, “the slow climb to Heaven,” it is equally rooted in our suffering yet miraculous earth."
—ANGELE ELLIS, Cultural Daily
Read an Excerpt
Book Reviews and Interviews
Pennsylvania School Librarian's Assn Book Review
Pittsburgh City Paper Interview
Ovunque Siamo Book Review
Pittsburgh Post Gazette Book Review
Pittsburgh Magazine Book Review
Cultural Daily Book Review
Pittsburgh Tribune Review Greater Pittsburgh Book Festival
Watch Paola's video vignette at the Pittsburgh City Steps Symposium.
To purchase a signed copy of the book, email Paola Corso.
Copyright © 2020 Paola Corso. All Rights Reserved.