Over the years, Pennsylvania has been graced with an abundance of writers whose work draws imaginatively on the state’s history and culture. 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.
“What the book reveals about the state of poetry is the extent to which poetry can still be direct and informative. Read this book from start to finish and you’ll have a better feel for Pennsylvania than from reading a guidebook or a history. . . . The book has a great index that lets you look up places’ names, so you can see if there’s a poem about somewhere you know.” —Frank Wilson, Philadelphia Inquirer
“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 and hope.” —Susquehanna Life Magazine
“The writers who penned this collection of poetry have one thing in common: a love for the Keystone state. The poetic themes are as diverse as the landscapes across our beautiful state. From the city of brotherly love, through the Susquehanna Valley, north to Erie and even on our own three rivers, no area of Pennsylvania is left unexplored.” —Lisa Kellar, Pittsburgh Magazine
“These diverse poems about people and places provide authentic new ways of looking at this tired old state—beauty marks, liver spots and all.” —Jack Brubaker, Lancaster New Era
“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
“Common Wealth is an excellent reminder that one of the best ways to understand a place (besides living there) is to read its literature.” —Lori D. Kranz, Bloomsbury Review
“It’s a wonderful anthology, more than 200 pages of Pennsylvania poetry, written by our best observers, from John Updike to Diane Ackerman. A wealth, indeed.” —Dan Morey, Erie Times News
“Common Wealth, a radiant collection of poems by 103 poets from or connected in some way to Pennsylvania, celebrates its own sense of place as these poets see it, recall it, or perhaps, even are cursed by it.” —John Fidler, Reading Eagle (PA)
Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania and the Poetry of Place
- October 11, 2012 Capitol Building Reading in Harrisburg, PA (including "Clyde Peeling's Reptiland")
- NPR Radio Interview with WVIA's Erika Funke on the Poetry of Place
- October 11, 2012 Capitol Building Reading in Harrisburg (via Dad Poet Blog)
- October 11, 2012 Midtown Scholar Bookstore Reading: Excerpt of Readings by Jerry Wemple and Marjorie Maddox
- Listen to Midtown Scholar Bookstore Reading: Poems on Pennsylvania; includes "Flight Patterns" (Montoursville, PA, and TWA Flight 800 Crash), "Clyde Peeling's Reptiland" (Allenwood, PA), "Buggy Ride at Sixteen" (outside State College, PA), and others.
- "The Power to Inspire: Bringing Poetry to the People" (Chautauqua Institution talk)
- "Poetry in Its Place(s)" Writer-in-Residence at Chautauqua
- October 11, 2012 Midtown Scholar Bookstore Reading: Excerpt of Anthology Contributor Jack Veasey and Common Wealth Co-editor Jerry Wemple
- WITF and Midtown Scholar Bookstore October 2012 Pick-of-the-Month for Common Wealth
- Radio Interview with WITF's Cary Burkett on Pennsylvania Poets Reading at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg
- Article in Sun Gazette on Capitol Building Reading
- Reading on WITF "Pennsylvania September: The Witnesses" about United Airlines Flight 93 on 9/11
- Review by Melissa Beattie-Moss at Research Penn State
- Bringing "Poetry to the People" at the Sunbury River Festival (video)
- The Dad Poet Blog and the Sunbury River Festival
- The Dad Poet Blog and "Clyde Peeling's Reptiland"
- Governor’s Awards for the Arts (poem honored and performed)
- Review at Lancaster News
- Poetry Out Loud Competition Judge (Governor's Mansion)
- Pennsylvania Landscape as Body (Blog Review)