Craig Czury


At Night from the kitchen window
from the back field near the pond
from your truck swerving potholes
your story augers deep
through a tangle of roots
home or far from home
lit by a tower of stars
written in earth and water
with flammable ink

               7.25.11
Hop Bottom, Pa.

Czury keeps a mattress at a former schoolhouse in Springville, which has been converted into artist studios. On the wall he's got a collection of thumb notes and poetry from his hitchhiking trips. In a way he's a documentary poet, gathering shale country voices that may get lost among what he calls the "loud" story ringing out from the headlines.
After each ride, Czury jots down what he remembers most and calls them "thumb notes." They include date and time, weather, his own observations, as well as the story he just heard. Over the past year, he's gathered a treasure trove of first-hand accounts of the gas rush.
"The whole issue of inheritance is really thick up here," he says. "What have you inherited as a culture, as a culture of hunters, fisherman, family, family dinner tables. And then here comes the infusion of the gas industry. What part of your inheritance got taken away from you and what new inheritance, what have you unexpectedly gained from everything getting changed, almost overnight."
Interview with Susan Phillips, StateImpact Pennsylvania
From the book:
These poems were first published in regional and national literary magazines, Ergo, Origin, kayak, Parnassus. Along with a handful of others (Blomain, Parini, Humes, Balitus, Petrosky, Maggie Martin...), I was of the first generation to write this region in poetry as a literature. Our books defined a culture within a region spent and in decay, and are personal documentaries to the past.

    Now, over 30 years later, with the advent of Marcellus Shale gas drilling in the Endless Mountains, the conversation with earth and water, the gas people and the land people, has just barely begun. As with the coal industry, fracking has changed the face and earth rhythms of rural Pennsylvania. It has also created new social dynamics that have fractured and fragmented the way the people of this bioregion talk with, among, and against each other.

*   *   *


Because all signs say this traffic has work to do
standing between my potholes across from Allen's Garage

The day is blue sky with storm clouds
wind warm any colder would be snow

Because people around here are frugal
maybe a $15,000 kitchen remodeled here
 or a new roof there

Because now the heat's off the meth labs

The heat's off off the farmers' chemical fertilizers
draining into the Chesapeake

Because   Although   Despite
is a hand-stitched chapbook - $10.

(Click here to see Craig Czury's other FootHills books available.)

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