Hiram College English professor reflects on humans’ impact in new poetry collection, ‘Local Extinctions’
Most people have heard of plant and animal species going extinct as the result of some natural catastrophic event such as a giant asteroid strike or the ice age. But people rarely reflect on their own roles in the destruction of the world around them.
In her latest book, a poetry collection titled “Local Extinctions,” Hiram College English Professor Mary Quade examines this phenomenon. Released in March by Gold Wake Press, the book was a winner of the 2015 Gold Wake Press Open Reading.
“The book was shaped by my concern with the idea of extinctions,” says Quade. “I’m interested in icons of extinction, such as the passenger pigeon, and in our own understanding of our responsibility for loss in the world. The attraction of stories of extinction is that it’s easy to be sad and nostalgic about what is lost; it’s much harder to recognize that we are part of problems that could be solved and to make the sacrifices to solve them. The book reflects on our – and, in particular, my – culpability in terms of damage inflicted on the world.”
While the subject-matter of her poems can be grave, Quade doesn’t take herself too seriously.
“My favorite poems probably are the ones where I’m clearly making fun of myself,” Quade discloses.
“Local Extinctions” is Quade’s second book. Her first book “Guide to Native Beasts,” published by Cleveland State University Poetry Center, won the Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize.
“Some of the poems in my first book I wrote when I was in my early twenties – a couple were even written in college,” says Quade. “I would hope my view of things has gotten more complex, but who knows.”
While both of Quade’s books include several poems about animals, her first book centers on American icons, like holidays, tractors and nuclear bombs. “Local Extinctions” is grounded more in place, specifically Ohio.
A graduate of the University of Chicago and the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, Quade is the recipient of an Oregon Literary Fellowship and three Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards. Her essays and poems have appeared in several anthologies, including two that have Hiram College connections. From Curlers to Chainsaws: Women and Their Machines, and Creating Nonfiction: Twenty Essays and Interviews with the Writers included several faculty and alumni editors and contributors.
While Quade’s writing has been widely lauded, her reason for writing isn’t about the recognition.
“If I don’t write, I’m not whole or happy, as cheesy as that sounds,” says Quade. “It’s how I process the world around me and make what sense I can of life’s confusion. Writing is intuitive, which makes it unpredictable and surprising, and that’s the fun.”
“Local Extinctions” is available for purchase through Ingram Distribution, Amazon, B&N.com, Powell’s, directly through Gold Wake Press and at the Hiram College book store.
Quade is reading from her work on June 15 at 7 p.m. at Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern in Cleveland, Ohio, 11625 Euclid Ave., through a program with Literary Cleveland.