The Poetry of the Marcellus Shale

Julia Spicher KasdorfScreen Shot 2015-10-09 at 11.08.03 AM is producing some powerful, memorable poetry about the Marcellus Shale. She has written four poems about life atop the gas field; to date, three have been posted on a Penn State website in the run up to my visit to campus next week.

They are written, mostly, from the point of view of landowners, put-upon residents who now find themselves living in a newly industrialized zone. From a “fracket” to gas company logos on Little League uniforms to the unsealed court proceedings of a family signing away their childrens’ rights to speak out, these poems are by turns powerful and disturbing.

I think her poems deserve an audience, so I’m posting some excerpts and links to them. Please take a minute to read them.

From “A Mother on the West Virginia Line Considers the Public Health”

They drilled the gas pipeline on a weekend, didn’t go where the DEP said,

so it blew out in our crick—bentonite and “residual waste” clouding

clean water stocked with trout. That’s when I cried. That crick flows

into the Mon, and people get their drinking water out of that river.

From “F Word”

Frackville, PA, named for Daniel Frack, from vrack,

Middle Low German: greedy, stingy, damaged, useless.

And, the third and in some ways the most poignant in its bureaucratic precision, “Sealed Record”

You’re both aware that in exchange for the sum of $750,000, you have given up all rights that you may have against all of the defendants in this case now and forever.



You understand that in exchange for that sum, you are required to turn over your home to the defendants in exchange for which you will be able to buy a new home?



Do you understand that by this agreement each of you have been subjected to a confidentiality agreement, which is in essence, a gag order?  You are not to comment in any fashion whatsoever about Marcellus Shale/fracking activities, and you accept that?

                          Unfortunately, yes.


I’ll update with the fourth when it is available.

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