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University of Pittsburgh

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  • Former steel worker wins prestigious poetry prize

    In the summer of 1970, Afaa Michael Weaver was a clerk recording the weight of the massive tin coils produced at Sparrows Point Steel Mill, tin that would later be turned into soup cans and the like. He used a crayon to mark the coils, which would be warm enough to melt the wax, so his numbers would stick. In between, he wrote poems on the backs of the tally sheets. He remembers when he showed up for work one day just as a co-worker's foot was being amputated; it was caught in the machinery and it was the only way to free him. Weaver thought, I gotta get a safer job. He did, relatively speaking, and worked the next 14 years on the packing floor and, later, in the warehouse of Proctor & Gamble's factory in Locust Point.
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