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Susquehanna Life

Shale Play Named Pennsylvania’s 2021 Route 1 Reads Title

Oct 01, 2021 09:14AM ● By Erica Shames

Pennsylvania’s 2021 Route 1 Reads book is Shale Play: Poems and Photographs from the Fracking Fields. Featuring poems by Julia Spicher Kasdorf and photographs by Steven Rubin, Shale Play is an enlightening, empathetic exploration of Appalachian Pennsylvania and everyday lives of the women, men, and children who live there.

The PA Center for the Book announced the designation in June. Calling the book “a lush, sweeping tale of the communities who experience fracking,” the Center cited the multiple points of view Shale Play presents in depicting the “unflinching realities of this growing industry” and said the “cumulative, poetic-visual narrative humanizes this contentious issue and deepens understanding via powerful aesthetics and well-researched facts.”

Framed by Rubin’s arresting photographs, the ecopoetics of Shale Play invite readers to look beyond the easy caricatures of the epicenter of Pennsylvania’s fracking industry and understand the realities of this sacrifice zone that fuels the nation. It reveals both the natural beauty of these rural places and the disruption and spectacle fracking creates.

Kasdorf joined other Route 1 Reads honorees to give a virtual reading in August. The recording is here,

A partnership among the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress and 16 affiliates from Ft. Kent, Maine, to Key West, Florida, Route 1 Reads promotes books that illuminate important aspects of the respective states along the meandering Route 1 highway’s 2,369 miles. The full list of 2021 Route 1 Reads books is at

Shale Play is published by Penn State University Press. Learn more about the book and see an excerpt at


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