A Conversation about Steel and Grit: Writer Eliese Goldbach and UWCO's Michael Wilkos

Monday, March 9, 2020 - 7:00pm
Gramercy Books
2424 East Main Street
Bexley, OH 43209

RUST: A Memoir of Steel and Grit is a young Cleveland millworker’s eloquent tale of hard times in working class America. 

Join writer Eliese Goldbach, in conversation with United Way’s Michael Wilkos, to learn about her powerful book, RUST: A Memoir of Steel and Grit. The memoir offers an intimate look at Goldbach’s Rust Belt childhood and the people she sees as the unsung backbone of our nation.

A debut memoir of grit and tenacity, Eliese Goldbach returns to the conservative hometown she always longed to escape to earn a living in the steel mill that casts a shadow over Cleveland. To ArcelorMittal Steel, Eliese is known as #6691: Utility Worker, but this was never her dream. The mill is everything she was trying to escape, but it's also her only shot at financial security in an economically devastated and forgotten part of America. 

In RUST, Eliese brings the reader inside the belly of the mill and the middle American upbringing that brought her there in the first place. She takes a long and intimate look at her Rust Belt childhood and struggles to reconcile her desire to leave without turning her back on the people she's come to love. The people she sees as the unsung backbone of our nation. Faced with the financial promise of a steelworker’s paycheck, and the very real danger of working in an environment where a steel coil could crush you at any moment or a vat of molten iron could explode because of a single drop of water, Eliese finds unexpected warmth and camaraderie among the gruff men she labors beside each day.

Appealing to readers of Hillbilly Elegy and EducatedRUST is a story of the humanity Eliese discovers in the most unlikely and hellish of places.

Eliese Colette Goldbach was a steelworker at the ArcelorMittal Cleveland Temper Mill. She received an MFA in nonfiction from the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Program. Her writing has appeared in PloughsharesWestern Humanities ReviewAlaska Quarterly ReviewMcSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Best American Essays 2017. She received the Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Award and the 2016 Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant from the Ohioana Library Association, which is given to a young Ohio writer of promise. She now teaches at John Carroll University and lives in Cleveland with her husband. 

United Way of Central Ohio is Gramercy’s Community Partner for this program. Michael Wilkos is its Senior Vice President of Community Impact. His expertise is in community revitalization. His team at United Way develops effective strategies to improve our community and invests in programs that carry out these strategies.