My poem, "Directions for Finding a Squonk" is also included in this volume. Certainly, it's the type of poem that I had fun writing, but deep down inside, I didn't believe this poem would really find a home because of its obscure and unusual subject. The squonk is a creature from Pennsylvania folklore -- and is unique to the Black Forest regions of my home state. Folklore describes the squonk as a creature that is so ugly that it weeps constantly, and often dissolves in its own tears. Its almost impossible to catch and if one does try to capture a squonk, he or she will most likely only get a handful of tears.
Years ago, I was taking a workshop with poet Maggie Anderson at Chautauqua. At that time I was working on a series about the lumber history of northern Pennsylvania. (I never did finish the series; instead, I found that most of the material would be better in prose than poetry.)Many of my poems contained depictions of lumber folklore with a set of creatures that are fairly unique including the splinter cat (a cat that would claw trees to shreds) and fur-covered trout. In one of my poems, the squonk got one line. The people in my group, including Maggie Anderson herself, were very interested in the tales of the squonk, and at the end of the workshop, Maggie told me that she believed that the squonk deserved its own poem, and that its presence shouldn't be buried in a longer piece.
So here it is. Years after that workshop, the squonk of Pennsylvania lumber folklore, not only has its own poem, but is also in great company with other beasts that make their appearances in this issue.
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