In The Community

Against Absence: Writing on the Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Species of Allegany County, MD

The Frostburg Center for Literary Arts recently invited writers to participate in a public literary arts project considering the rare, threatened, and endangered species of Allegany County, Maryland. 

against: in opposition to; as a defense or protection from; beside; in preparation for the time when
absence: the state of being away from a place or person; the nonexistence or lack of


This project features a curated website.

Celebrate with us! A public reading will be held on 27 April at 2 PM in the Mountain View Pavilion, Day Use Area, Rocky Gap State Park 

Against Absence features the work of Ben Brooks, Jennifer Browne, Naomi Gades, Alana Hartman, Kevin Kehrwald, James Kirk, Gerry LaFemina, Patsy Newell, M.C. Pratt, Kathryn Reilly, Mary Spalding, Jody Walker, and Cathy Wittmeyer.
This event is free and open to the public, and the Mountain View Pavilion is accessible to participants with mobility impairments.
This project is sponsored by Rocky Gap State Park, the Allegany Arts Council, the City of Frostburg, and several offices at FSU, including the Office of the President, the Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social & Behavioral Sciences, Susan Dodge and the Visual Arts Department, and the Department of English and Foreign Languages and Literature.
Against Absence is indebted to the CVNP Poetic Inventory, a joint project of the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Against Absence accepted poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid work that references at least one of the named species on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ List of Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Species of Allegany County.



Local, regional, and CLA-affiliated poets offer poems about trees on stakes near trees within Allegany County.  Current locations include the South Cumberland, Washington Street, Frostburg, George's Creek, and Westernport Libraries; Cumberland Street in Cumberland; the FSU campus, including in the FSU Arboretum; and Westernport's Creekside Park. Participating Poets and Poem Titles: 

Gary Ciocco, “The Nature of Naming”
-Westernport Library
-FSU Arboretum Sassafras Trail, in the clearing at the approximate middle of the part of path that runs beside Sand Spring Run
Jack DuBose, “Trees”
-Washington Street Library, Cumberland, side, corner closest to 31 Prospect Square 
-Westernport Historical Society Museum, Main St., Westernport 
Gary Fadley, “Pearl and The Imp”
In Cumberland, more specific location being determined by the City Forester. TBA
Nina Forsythe, "I Went into the Woods”
-Frostburg Public Library
-FSU Campus, along the walkway between the Performing Arts Center and Pullen Hall
R. David Fulcher, “The Trees Behind the Old House”
-FSU Arboretum, on the Elderberry Trail, near the footbridge over Sand Spring Run 
-Smith Park, Cumberland (between Race and Seymour Sts.) 
Sid Gold, “Clear Intent”
-Constitution Park, Cumberland, across from the swimming pool
Matthew Henry Hall, “Finding the Tree in You / and the You in the Tree / (A Step-by-Step Guide)"
-Creekside Park, Westernport  (Note: there is another Matthew Henry Hall Poet-Tree Stake at Creekside Park.) 
-Allegheny Trail House front on Main Street sidewalk
-Rocky Gap State Park West Beach 
Sally Rosen Kindred, “The Next Day”
-South Cumberland Library
-Clatter Cafe (rear corner, near the pergola), Frostburg
Leanna Koch, “Log”
-FSU Campus: Lower quad, between CCIT, Lane University Center, and the Lewis J. Ort Library
-Rocky Gap State Park Aviary 
Bryon MacWilliams, “Chump”
-FSU Arboretum, Sassafras Trail, at the end nearest University Blvd.
Richard Maslow, "Centre Street, Cumberland Street”
-The eastern end of Cumberland Street in Cumberland, near the corner closest to the Market Street Bridge
-Rocky Gap State Park North Beach 
M.C. Pratt, “Reunions”
-Plaza in front of Cumberland City Hall 
-Train Station in Westernport, hosted by the Westernport Historical Society 
David A. Sweitzer, Jr., Folding the Corners of Trees”
-Community Park behind George’s Creek Regional Library 
-Rocky Gap State Park Campground Beach 
Antonio Vallone, “Civil Disobedience”
-Washington Street Library, Cumberland, facing the Allegany County Courthouse
Jody Walker, “The Last Stand”
-George’s Creek Regional Library, Lonaconing 
-Rocky Gap State Park Nature Center 


Backbone Mountain Review

An annual literary journal showcasing the creative talents and cultural diversity of the people and places within the Appalachian Mid-Atlantic Region.
Backbone Mountain Review


Every Thursday at 5:30 PM (approximately) on WFWM Public Radio, 91.9 FM

Oasis is "a moment of poetry on WFWM Public Radio." The broadcasts feature diverse poets and subject matter to surprise, challenge, and delight the listeners of WFWM.


Past Projects: 

Random Acts of Poetry 

We wrote poems by hand onto 300 postcards that were mailed to addresses selected at random from the Allegany County phone book. We may send more soon. Check your mailbox! 

Poetry Underfoot  

This public poetry project was only visible during rainy days during its installation. Ten poems were selected from among those submitted by regional poets. After poems were selected, graphic design students from FSU’s Department of Fine Arts designed typography for each poem, and those typography designs were hand cut into stencils. Hydrophobic solution was applied to those stencils, rendering poem excerpts on sidewalks throughout Allegany County, including at five public library buildings, on FSU’s campus, and in Midland, Barton, Lonaconing, Cumberland, and Frostburg. 

Poets whose work was included were Stephen Dunn, Nina Forsythe, Gerry LaFemina, Hiram Larew, Maggie Pratt, Jonathan Treece, Jody Walker, and Mike Weddle. 

Walk, Read, and Write! 

Designed as a walking gallery, Walk, Read, and Write placed large-scale visual interpretations of nine pieces of literary work by Allegany County authors in various window displays throughout the surrounding Frostburg campus and community. Read about the project here

The Speakeasy

The Speakeasy, interviews with writers hosted by Jack DuBose and recorded in the studios of WFWM Public Radio, is archived on Soundcloud. 


CLA Hours 


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Frostburg Center for Literary Arts
Department of English
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, Maryland 21532

Phone: 301.687.4340