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Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania Edited by Marjorie Maddox and Jerry Wemple
“A poem is like a photograph: It’s one bright, revealing snapshot of the subject, amplified and able to be studied and enjoyed over and over. And Common Wealth, a book in which contemporary poets delve into memories about Pennsylvania, is full of them.” —Noreen Livoti, Central PA Magazine
Over the years, Pennsylvania has been graced with an abundance of writers whose work draws imaginatively on the state’s history and culture. Penn State University Press’s Common Wealth sings the essence of Pennsylvania through contemporary poetry. Whether Pennsylvania is their point of origin or their destination, the featured poets ultimately find what matters: heritage, pride, work, inventiveness, struggle, faith, beauty, hope.
Keystone poets Marjorie Maddox and Jerry Wemple celebrate Pennsylvania with this wide range of new and veteran poets, including former state poet Samuel Hazo, National Book Award winner Gerald Stern, Pulitzer Prize winners Maxine Kumin, W. S. Merwin, and W. D. Snodgrass, and Reading-born master John Updike. The book’s 103 poets also include such noted authors as Diane Ackerman, Maggie Anderson, Jan Beatty, Robin Becker, Jim Daniels, Toi Derricotte, Gary Fincke, Harry Humes, Julia Kasdorf, Ed Ochester, Jay Parini, Len Roberts, Sonia Sanchez, Betsy Sholl, and Judith Vollmer.
In these pages, poems sketch the landscapes and cultural terrain of the state, delving into the history, traditions, and people of Philadelphia, “Dutch” country, the coal-mining region, the Poconos, and the Lehigh Valley; the Three Rivers region; the Laurel Highlands; and Erie and the Allegheny National Forest. Theirs is a complex narrative cultivated for centuries in coal mines, kitchens, elevated trains, and hometowns, a tale that illuminates the sanctity of the commonplace—the daily chores of a Mennonite housewife, a polka dance in Coaldale, the late shift at a steel factory, the macadam of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. With its panoramic vision of Pennsylvania, its culture, and its thriving literary heritage, Common Wealth is a collection of remembrance for a state that continues to inspire countless contributions to American literature.
Co-editor Marjorie Maddox is Director of Creative Writing and Professor of English at Lock Haven University. A resident of central Pennsylvania since 1990, she has published several award-winning poetry collections, including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (2004), When the Wood Clacks Out Your Name: Baseball Poems (2001), and Perpendicular as I (1994).
Co-editor Jerry Wemple is Associate Professor of English at Bloomsburg University. He is the author of You Can See It from Here (2000), which won the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, and The Civil War in Baltimore (2005). He grew up in the Susquehanna Valley.
Meet the editors and contributing poets, and hear them read from their work!
Thursday, October 11th, from 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m., in the State Capitol’s East Wing. Free and open to the public, followed by a book-signing.
Thursday, October 11th, at 7:00 p.m., at Harrisburg’s Midtown Scholar Bookstore, hosted by the Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel, followed by a book-signing and open mic poetry reading.
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