Schedule Alert — City of Asylum/Northside Trip April 13

Dear Travelers: 
If you look on our travel schedule, you’ll see that we’re scheduled for our City of Asylum/Northside tour on Saturday, April 13 and not this Saturday. I’m sorry for the confusion!

Please adjust your schedules accordingly and remember that we won’t be meeting this Saturday, but we will be meeting next Saturday — that’s April 13 — instead.  If this causes a work/schedule conflict for anyone, please let me know. 

Also, a few reminders about this trip:

Our tour at City of Asylum begins promptly at 12:30, so we’ll be leaving at 11 a.m. to make sure we get there in time. Our regular classroom is being occupied by Admissions, and so we’ll meet in the parking lot in front of McKenna Hall. We do not have a van for this trip, unless I can work some magic, and so we’ll need to carpool. We’ll work out the logistics of that. 

Our tour at City of Asylum should be about an hour (12:30-1:30). We’ll spend another 30 minutes or so at Randyland. 

We’ll be walking a bit — from City of Asylum to Randyland, a few blocks — so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. It could be 70 degrees. It could be 20 degrees. (Oh, Pittsburgh.) Parking on the North Side is street parking.

It’s come to my attention that many of you would like to visit The Warhol while we’re on the Northside (which is awesome!). I’ve added that to our itinerary. We’ll plan to be at The Warhol from approximately 2:00 until 3:30. Admission to The Warhol is $10 for students. There is a pay lot near the museum, and street parking not far away.

I realize some of you have to be back on campus by 5 p.m. for an event, and that’s o.k. If anyone is able to hang in there a bit later, though, I still owe you pizza and would love to hit Vincent’s on our way back to campus. Vincent’s is Pittsburgh’s legendary pie. There’s nothing like it.

If we do a pizza stop, we’ll also drive by the Westinghouse Castle in Wilmerding on our way back to campus.

Those of you who join in should be back to campus by 6:30 p.m. or so. Again, we’ll work out the carpooling logistics when we’re together on Saturday, April 13. 

I wish we had another full semester together! There’s so much more to see and do, but I hope you’re getting a great sense of Pittsburgh’s history and hidden treasures, and that you’re getting lots of material for your writing.

ALSO: Conferences

If you haven’t met with me in conference yet to review your blog, please make an appointment to do so. I love getting a chance to go over your work one-on-one, and we haven’t had nearly enough time in class to give your writing the attention it deserves. You’ll have until Friday of finals week to have your blog complete and polished, so if you’re behind on posts or on your reading responses, you have time to catch up. Let me know if you have any concerns.

That’s all the news for now. See you on Saturday, April 13. That’s Saturday, April 13. Saturday. April. 13. Thank you!

Finding a Good Home for Your Work — Travel Writing Markets

Here are just a few places where you can submit your travel writing — and get paid a bit. (Thanks to That Travel Blog for the tips!)

1. Matador Network

Matador Network works with thousands of writers, photographers, and filmmakers. “From industry-leading voices to young creatives published for the first time.”

Matador’s ‘Creators Community’ is one of the best resources out there for beginner travel writers. MatadorU allows you to hunt for opportunities with specific calls for submissions and market leads posted regularly by their editorial team.

Payment: $40 for commissioned articles

Instructions: Sign up to their Creators Community on MatadorU and set up a profile. After completing your profile, click the “U” logo to access the user dashboard and market leads.

2. Verge magazine 

Verge is a small, Canadian digital-only publication.

Verge specifically looks for articles “with purpose.” This can be in the form of working, volunteering, studying or any other purposeful reasons for traveling.

Their audience consists mainly of socially aware individuals who want to make a difference. Payment: A small flat fee for contributions

Instructions: You can send all submissions and inquiries to contributing(at)vergemagazine(dot)com.

3. The Expeditioner

The Expeditioner features travel articles, news, videos and more from some of the best travel writers and talented bloggers worldwide. They are looking for travel stories that are written in a first-person narrative style. Articles must be informative, well written, and inspiring for eager future travellers.

They would prefer articles written with an American audience in mind, with original and relevant photography.

Payment: $30 per article (1200 words +)

Instructions: Fill in their online form or email matt(at)theexpeditioner(dot)com. Read this page for guidelines and submissions.

4. Go World Travel

Go World Travel consider writers from all ends of the spectrum, as long as you write well and set yourself apart from the standard “how to get there” articles. The style of writing should be around a destination or place. They are looking for descriptive, straightforward writers who encourage people to go and see the place for themselves.

Anecdotes, curiosity about the place and a detailed insight into your personal feelings towards it, are all things they are after.

Payment: $30-$40 per article (up to 1600 words)

Instructions: Submit your articles to submissions(at)goworldtravel(dot)com. Include the story title and destination in the subject line. More instructions here.

5. Tales to Go

You can write for one of the Tales to Go issues that are available on their website or as a subscription service. Read some of their previous issues to get an idea of the style of writing and types of stories they are after.

Payment: $50 per submission (1000-3000 words submissions have a better chance of being accepted)

Instructions: Previously published stories are welcome, as long as you retain the copyright. They also consider material for books so have a look at their guidelines for more information.

6. Listverse

Listverse is always looking for writers who can write a distinctive and interesting listicle (list-articles). They want authors to think outside of the box with an alternative perspective, hidden knowledge or some unique facts about a given subject area.

The list should be no shorter than 10 items and be all of your own work, no copying someone else’s ideas. Sound simple? Give it a go!

Payment: $100 per submission. You must have (or be able to create) a PayPal account.

Instructions: Lists should be 1 or 2 paragraphs per point with a minimum of 10 items in a list. Submissions can be filled in here.

Today’s Travels — Feb. 23

Welcome back, explorers!


Today, we’ll be traveling to Pittsburgh to explore the Duquesne Incline and Mt. Washington and, weather- and time-depending, two of Pittsburgh’s historic steps — The Canton Avenue Steps (the steepest — with a 37 percent grade) and the Ray Avenue Steps (the longest set of steps — 378 — in the city).

Then we will head over to the Carnegie Museum of Art to see, among other things, the exhibit by Yuji Agematsu you read about (see the article from The New Yorker posted here on our site). Along the way, we’ll be gathering found objects we’ll use later to replicate Agematsu’s sculptures.

What you need to know:

  • We’ll have the van, but if you choose to drive separately, there is paid parking at both The Incline and the Museum. Parking should be around $5.
  • The incline costs $2.50 each way ($5 total) and you’ll need cash and exact change. (Note: Anyone with a fear of heights can stay at the bottom of the Incline, no worries.)
  • Admission to the Carnegie museums is $11.95 with your student I.D.
  • We have a long day, so bring snacks and beverages if you’d like. The museum has a cafe, but it can be pricey.
  • The weather today looks spotty, so be sure to dress in layers and bring an umbrella.

Agematsu Projects:

I’ll give you each a baggie and some notecards. During our travels, keep watch for small, interesting objects. When you find something that interests you, you’ll put it in the baggie and make a note on your card (where you found the object, the time and date, and a line or two about why this object caught your attention, and a line or two about your day). At the end of the day, you’ll put your notecards in your baggies (be sure your name is on them) and give them to me. I’ll be working with Pittsburgh artist Meghan Tutolo to cast your objects in resin a la Agematsu. I’ll give your sculptures to you at the end of our semester.

Next up:

I’ll be scheduling individual conferences with each of you before Spring Break to go over your blogs, talk about our readings, work on your travel-writing craft, and answer any questions you may have as we move into our next few weeks. Please be sure to sign up for a conference.

Our next trip will be on March 23, when we’ll visit the Carrie Furnaces and Braddock. We’ll have the van, and we’ll be taking a group tour of the furnaces. Our tour will be led by Rivers of Steel experts. The cost for the tour is $17. We’ll drive from Braddock through Wilmerding, checking out the Westinghouse Bridge and the Westinghouse Castle along the way. We’ll stop for pizza (on me) at historic Vincent’s Pizza at 4 p.m., so our class will run a bit later than usual. This will also make up for the day we’ll be missing because of Spring Break.

Our next reading assignment:

Before March 9 Read: The Pittsburgh Stories, by Willa Cather; Read: The Trolleyman, by Bob Pajich

Answer on your blog: Regarding “Paul’s Case” — How are the story’s themes—a working-class parent unable to understand and support a son’s love of the arts; the class tension between Paul and the cultured, upper-class patrons where he ushers at the Carnegie; and his acceptance by actors in Downtown Pittsburgh—universal and yet the setting and nuance clearly Pittsburgh?

Regarding “The Trolleyman” — How does Pajich write working-class Pittsburgh? What kind of place makes up the landscape of these poems? What is familiar — and unfamiliar — about the place he recreates here?

Today in Travel Writing– 2/9

Welcome back, intrepid travelers!

While the weather was terrific a few days ago (well, at least it was warm), today looks rough.

That’s o.k., though, because we’ll be spending a portion of our class in class.

I’ll give a lecture on some travel-writing/place-writing basics, we’ll briefly discuss Annie Dillard and Michael Chabon, and we’ll take a look at your travel blogs.

Not-Quite-Mid-Term Check-Up

Right now, your blogs should be live, I should have your blog addresses posted on our blog roll, and you should have the following posts completed:

  • Introduction
  • Strip District coverage
  • Reading response to Dillard
  • Maxo Vanko/Bicycle Museum coverage
  • Reading response to Chabon

During workshop, each of you will pick one of your coverage pieces (Strip District or Vanko/Bicycle) to share with the class for feedback.

Today’s Destination: Westmoreland Museum of Art

After our in-class work, we’ll head to the Westmoreland Museum. Admission is free. Don’t forget to visit the Westmoreland’s website for more information.

The Westmoreland is home to a preeminent collection of American paintings, sculpture and early 19th century furniture. The collection includes the works of famous American artists like Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, and more, plus, powerful scenes from our region’s coal and steel industry. (We can relate these to our next reading, Out of the Furnace.)

The Westmoreland is the only museum dedicated to American art in western Pennsylvania.

I’m especially excited for you to see the photographs of Teenie “One Shot” Harris, and I’m hoping they’ll be on display.

If you’re not familiar with Teenie’s work, here’s a short bio:

Harris was born in 1908 in Pittsburgh, the son of hotel owners in the city’s Hill District. Early in the 1930s, he purchased his first camera and opened a photography studio. He freelanced for the news picture magazine, Flash. From the 1936 to 1975 Harris chronicled life in the African American neighborhoods of the city for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of America’s oldest African American newspapers. He was nicknamed “One Shot” because he rarely made his subjects sit for retakes. Harris took more than 80,000 images during his career. The body of his work constitutes arguably the largest and most complete photographic documentation of a minority community in the United States.

While the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh holds most of Teenie’s collection (we’ll be visiting there next time!), the Westmoreland’s permanent collection includes quite a few of his photos and offers a great introduction to his work.

Our Next Class – February 23:

For our next class, we’ll be visiting some Pittsburgh landmarks — the Incline, Mount Washington, and some Pittsburgh steps (all weather-permitting). Then we will head to the Carnegie Museum of Art, where among other things we’ll check out the work of Yuji Agematsu.

I’ve posted a New Yorker piece about Yuji’s unique work. Please read it because we’ll be replicating his art/technique during our Feb. 23 travels. I’ll explain in class.

This Saturday: The Vanka Murals in Millvale

This Saturday, we’ll be visiting the Vanka murals in Millvale.

Croatian artist Maxo Vanka painted a one-of-a-kind masterpiece on the interior walls of St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale, PA. The 25 murals—created in two intense periods in 1937 and 1941—are unique, evocative and larger-than-life representations of faith and family; the immigrant experience in America; social justice and injustice and the horrors of war.

The murals — and Vanka’s huge spirit — are unabashedly Pittsburgh. I’m excited for you to see them and to see how you write about the experience. Be sure to check out Millvale and the Vankas in Moon Pittsburgh before our visit.

We’ll be taking a docent-led tour of the murals. Our tour begins promptly at 12:30 p.m. and we will leave campus very shortly after 11 a.m. The cost for the tour is $10, cash, or you can pre-pay at the Vanka website. 

There is a gift shop on site, so if you think you might like to make a purchase — the magnets and posters are very beautiful and purchases support the preservation of the murals — please bring additional funds.


We will also make a stop on our way home at Bicycle Heaven, the world’s largest bicycle museum and bike shop. It’s a different kind of heavenly-mural experience and it’s free.

We may not have time to grab a bite anywhere, so please bring snacks if you’d like. Also, as for the weather — who knows? Both of our destinations are indoors. Parking for the Vanka murals is close by. There may be a short walk from parking at Bicycle Heaven, though. Plan to dress accordingly.

And of course bring your travel notebooks, photo gear, etc.

We should arrive back at campus by 3:30 p.m., where we will debrief, discuss your blogs, and prep for our next adventure.

So looking forward to this with all of you!

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Some Annie Dillard Inspiration

As we prepare for our travels this Saturday, please be sure you’re reading AN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD by Annie Dillard. Here’s a little inspiration to nudge you along:

If you haven’t already sent me your blog address, please do.

And here again are your reading-response questions for CHILDHOOD.

Answer on your blog: In what ways are Dillard’s childhood experiences similar to or different from your own? How does Dillard write about place?

And here’s one more question to consider: How is the Pittsburgh of Dillard’s childhood similar to or different from the Pittsburgh you know (or are getting to know)?

Strip District Follow Up (And Assignment Outline)

Dear Travelers: 

I hope you enjoyed our visit to the Strip District

Since we went a little over time, here is some information I would have given you back at our classroom basecamp. 

Assignments (due before our next class meeting):

  1. Set up your travel blog. Use any platform that feels good to you. I recommend WordPress, but if you have another platform you prefer, that’s fine. Try to give your blog a creative and easy-to-remember name. Think about how you might find a Pittsburgh-based niche for your blog, since Pittsburgh is a hot market right now and all of our travels will be based here. 
  • Make your first blog entries. You should post the following four things on your blogs:  a) An introduction to you– your bio note – and a sentence or two about your blog(what it is, what you’ll cover, what readers might expect to find there, etc.); b) Your coverage of our Strip District visit. This post can be a short (around 500 words) bit of journalism/reportage, a personal essay, a creative piece (a series of poems or a short story or some bits of flash fiction/nonfiction). Be sure to infuse your work with research. In other words, check out the history of the Strip, facts about the place(s) you’re writing about, any interesting details you can find, and weave these into your work.  MOON PITTSBURGH is a great resource for this; c)Photos. (Or video, if you shot that.) Visual elements are so important in travel writing, so be sure to illustrate your coverage of the Strip. Also, in your introduction, it’s always nice to include a photo/illustration of yourself so readers can connect with you; d) A separate entry about our assigned reading(See Syllabus for the list of questions).
  • When posting to your blog, be sure to self-edit your workand check for grammar, factual accuracy, etc. It’s helpful to write and edit in Word and then cut and paste into WordPress (though watch for any weird coding that might happen in the transition and delete it). It’s also helpful to have someone read over your work before you make it live. 
  • Once your blog is set up and ready to go, please send me the title and link. Send to: I will post your blog links to our main class site. 

Our next class:

We’ll be visiting the Maxo Vanka murals in Millvale. Do a little pre-trip research on the murals and Vanka’s work. Pre-trip research always makes for a more engaging experience on site. Again, MOON PITTSBURGH is helpful, but go beyond that whenever you can. 

Our tour is scheduled for 12:30, so we will leave just a bit after 11 a.m. Remember to come to class on time. I don’t want to lose anyone or leave anyone behind, though we will have to do that if you’re not here on schedule. 

We should, all things considered, be back in our classroom by 3 p.m., so we’ll have an hour to talk about your blogs and have a short lecture on what makes for good place-based writing. 

  • Note:  Our whole semester’s assignment schedule – including your required writing for your blogs, etc. — will be pretty much exactly this. We’ll travel, write, read, and repeat throughout the term. 

Looking forward to reading your work and seeing you soon! 

Best, lj