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"From Milltown to Malltown," CMU Professors Explore
Steel Valley Communities Through Poetry and Photography
PITTSBURGH—A new book of poetry and photography by Carnegie Mellon University professors Jim Daniels
, Jane McCafferty
and Charlee Brodsky
explores the transformation of Homestead, Pa., and its neighboring Steel Valley communities, from the once thriving steel-producing capital of the world to an area divided. "From Milltown to Malltown"
combines poems by Daniels and McCafferty with Brodksy's photos to tell the story of the bordering towns of Homestead, West Homestead and Munhall, where on one side of the railroad tracks is a popular commercialized shopping destination, and on the other side communities struggling to survive.
"The key to this project is the work of Charlee Brodsky — she's been photographing Homestead for a long time and really brings the community to life in her pictures," said Daniels, the Thomas Stockham Baker Professor of English
and accomplished poet, author and screenwriter. "As a writer, I'm always looking for tension and contrast, and her photos always seem to pull me in, inspire me to reflect on the emotion they generate."
McCafferty, an associate professor of English, agrees. "Charlee introduced me to how interesting the relationship of words and images can be. Every picture tells not just one story, but an almost infinite number of stories, depending on who's looking," she said.
Homestead, home of Carnegie Steel in the 1800s and U.S. Steel in the 1900s, was the site of the famous strike in 1892 when iron and steel workers fought for better wages. Today, 12 smokestacks from the mill — situated between a movie theater and a restaurant — are some of the few remnants of Homestead's steel industry past.
"Working with writers Jim Daniels and Jane McCafferty is a gift," said Brodsky, professor of photography in the School of Design
. "Jim and Jane's poems are an elegy to Homestead. What the three of us want to do in our book is to respectfully represent the town of Homestead as it is now by telling stories that are true to the place. We hope that we have done that."
Famed American poet Dorianne Laux called the book "a provocative and haunting portrait of working class America in decline and the scars we bear in the name of progress."
Published by Marick Press, "From Milltown to Malltown" contains 37 poems and 37 photos. Daniels, McCafferty and Brodsky will be available to discuss their work and sign copies of the book at 4:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 1 at the Carnegie Mellon University Bookstore
For more information, visit http://www.marickpress.com/index.php?/milltown-jim-daniels
or watch a video of Daniels reading select poems from the book at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0nh1RjmbYY