We could have another Donora here
There’s a funny looking fog we get here,
a dangerous fog, no way for the wind to lift it.
A retired EPA man said we could have a Donora here
one of these nights, that fog could take our lives.
Julia Spicher Kasdorf’s documentary poem, “Along Hope Hollow Road, a Grandma Talks on the Phone,” draws a direct line from Donora’s legacy to the environmental worries of residents living near the material infrastructure of Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry today. The speaker in the poem lives 250 feet from a compressor station that pressurizes for transport natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania, where concerns about the environmental and health impacts from hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) have been much discussed. In the midst of Pennsylvania’s fracking boom, Kasdorf and photographer Steven Rubin traveled extensively through shale communities. In these pages from Kasdorf’s writing journal, kept during her travels, she explores Donora’s legacy of pollution and the economic conditions today, decades after the closure of the steel and zinc plants. Her notes would later be turned into a poem, “St. Nicholas of Donora, PA” and published in Shale play: poems and photographs from the fracking fields, from Penn State University Press.
Items courtesy of Julia Spicher Kasdorf
Notes from Shale Play project
Julia Spicher Kasdorf and Steven Rubin
Shale play: poems and photographs from the fracking fields
University Park, Pennsylvania : The Pennsylvania State University Press, 
A gallery of images from the Shale Play project can be found on photographer Steven Rubin’s website at: https://www.stevenrubin.com/project/shale-play/.