Pittsburgh is a city known by us outsiders mostly as a tough-minded ex-steel town, a rust-belt city that crashed and hasn't fully recovered.
And for all I know that might be true. But what I've experienced in four brief visits has been warm welcome. And an arts scene that seems vibrant – one where, poet Crystal Hoffman told me a few years ago, all arts are, and can be, supportive of each other because the scene isn't big enough to force you to choose between say, literary and performance. Or sculpture and music. She spoke of cross-pollination. And my friends there, Sherrie Flick (the Queen of Literary Pittsburgh) and her husband, Rick Schweikert – who have shepherded my golden experience of their city, confirm that through the people they introduce me to every time I'm there.
It tickles my hunger, because I love artistic cross-pollination, and I've gotten away from it. And while there are many great things about Boston, and in particular about Boston's literary community (hello, Grub Street), such cross-pollination is not currently a big part of my life. And I'm reminded that I want it to be. So when I'm done with this book tour thing, and even as I go about it, I'm looking and listening for opportunity. For sparks.