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Thursday, April 13, 2017

National Poetry Month: Craig Czury, Thumb Notes Almanac

Poet Craig Czury lives in the heart of the Marcellus Shale, the huge "play" of natural gas situated beneath much of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The region has, in the past decade, been transformed from a bucolic, laid-back, economically stagnant rural area to one peppered with wells for gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," the roads thick with trucks, and a lucky few landowners flush with cash paid to them for the right to drill on their land.

Craig set out on a project to hitchhike up and down a several-mile stretch running through this region, taking rides as they came, making conversation and gathering material. "Thumb Notes Almanac: Hitchhiking the Marcellus Shale" is the result of that project. In it, Craig weaves his experiences and conversations into dozens of poems - or perhaps one long one. We hear the voices of the winners and losers, the gas workers and the landowners, the people happy to be making money at last, the people bitter about seeing the landscape they had known all their lives transformed forever. Here a young man dies at a traffic light, his pickup crushed by a runaway wastewater truck. There the CIT O stands, a rundown antique gas station in a boomtown, lacking the resources to replace the G on its sign. Over there a poet composes music by firing a shotgun at blank composition sheets on a line.

Thumb Notes Almanac captures and preserves an image of a region at a moment in time, the middle of the second decade of the twenty-first century. Anyone seeking to understand the complexities of the effects of fracking in rural regions would be well advised to start with the poems of  Craig Czury's Thumb Notes Almanac.

Thumb Notes Almanac: Hitchhiking the Marcellus Shale

Digging Deeper: Albright College Spotlights Craig Czury

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