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The Dire Elegies
59 Poets on Endangered Species of North America
(Ordering Information Below)

Illustartion by David M. Carroll

20 percent of proceeds from sales will go to the
NRDC's BioGems campaign (


Karla Linn Merrifield, chief editor, and co-editor Roger M. Weir have assembled a first anthology of its type in the world to inspire readers to take action on behalf of the continent's endangered plants and animals.  

"Poets here have left their ivory towers to encourage their neighbors to walk in the woods, observe the world, learn - and act,” said Merrifield, who teaches writing in the New York state university system.

Dr. Edward O. Wilson, world-renowned Harvard entomologist and two-time Pulitzer-Prize winning author, points out in the epigraph to this unique collection of poetry, “…the better an ecosystem is known, the less likely it will be destroyed.”  

This is the premise of “THE DIRE ELEGIES: 59 Poets on Endangered Species of North America” and why author Bill McKibben (“The End of Nature,” “Enough,” and “Wandering Home”) says in the book's foreword, “These magnificent poems work as a chant to summon more” of the love to save the endangered from extinction.  It's also why writer Susan Cerulean (“Tracking Desire: A Journey After Swallow-tailed Kites”) has called the book an “important manifesto: a must-read for our times.”  

 Included in the anthology are noted poets William Heyen, Maxine Kumin, W. S. Merwin, Enid Shomer, James E. Smelcer, Gary Snyder, Brian Swann and Lewis Turco among others.  The 59 poets are from all across the U.S. and Canada.  

The book's cover illustration depicting painted turtles in hibernation was donated by New Hampshire artist and naturalist David M. Carroll, recipient of The Burroughs Award for his Swampwalker's Journal: A Wetland's Year.

Science Meets Poetry

     A helpful feature of the anthology is the species notes that accompany the poems each time a new species is introduced.  

For example, when readers encounter Minnesota poet Shirley S. Stevens's poem “On Spotting a Pygmy Owl,” they also learn:  “The endangered cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum, of the U.S. Southwest and Mexico, numbered only 12 birds when it was listed in the U.S. in 1997.  A USF&WS recovery team began its work to rescue the species in 1998, but its fate remains precarious.”   

     “This anthology is a major advance along a most important frontier: forging compassion for endangered species, and using our human self-awareness to reflect on whether we really wish to travel the road we're on.,” said Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and Voyage of the Turtle, and founder and president of the Blue Ocean Institute.

Foreword:  Regarding the Frog and Our Real Selves, Bill McKibben
Preface:  A Righteous Case for the 1,277, Karla Linn Merrifield, Roger M. Weir
Epigraph, E. O. Wilson

In the Beginning
Roll Call, North American, Chris Norment
A Bestiary of Continuous Extinctions, Steven Huff

Grizzly, Michele F. Cooper
You Are in Bear Country, Maxine Kumin
In Concert, Jen Eddy
Loss, Dennis Fritzinger
Killed by the Bear, John Hutchinson
Treat Each Bear, Gary Lawless
The Hunter, John E. Smelcer
Night Cat, Bruce Sweet
Piute Creek, Gary Snyder
Water Flowing Over Rocks, Erica Caldwell
Stalking the Florida Panther, Enid Shomer
Wolf-God, James A. Parsley
On Feet of Clouds/Yanlaey Kae, John E. Smelcer
Dominance, Susan Edwards Richmond
Boy & Zoo, Jon Palzer
Out of Balance, John E. Smelcer
Call of the Wild, John E. Smelcer
Tatanka, Linda Opyr
American Pome, Chris Green
Visions of a Fading Empire, Casey Carroll
A Fox, Chris Green
Black- Footed Ferret, Dennis Fritzinger
Adopt-a-Prairie Chicken, Erica Caldwell
Clem's Peaches, Jessica Langen-Peck
Grass River Blues, Jay Franzel
Two Salamanders, Kathleen Van Schaick
At the Top of the Food Chain, Mary Laufer
In the Eyes of a Toad, Marian Lovene Griffey
Charting the Embryo, Katherine L. Gordon
The Dilemma, David Dodd
No Shrouds, Donna Marbach
In Search of the Madla's Cave Webweaver, Patricia Roth Schwartz
Orion Espies a Tree's Demise, Karla Linn Merrifield
Hart's-Tongue Fern, Gerald Schwartz
Lichen, Rock Gnome, Wanda Schubmehl
Advice from Ancestors, Beau Cutts

The Last Valley, Katherine L. Gordon
Whale Ivory, Eileen Malone
Last Whale, Gary Lawless
Leviathan, Lewis Turco
Harpoon, William Heyen
Ascension, Margo Stever
For a Coming Extinction, W. S. Merwin
The Whale's Tale, Joe St. Martin
The Manatee, Campbell McGrath
Chancing Upon the Manatees, Elise Paschen
Sirenia Mermaidus, Patricia Ellyn Powell
Grace Despite, Alisa Gordaneer
Our Delightful Weasel in the Sea, Michele Bar-David
Turtle Moon, Brian Swann
I walk the darkening beach, Wilda Morris
So Excellent a Fishe…, Dennis Fritzinger
Chinook.  Sockeye.  On special this week only, Alisa Gordaneer
Shortnose, Anne W. Hammond
Alewives, Marianna Tupper
Of High Sierra Rivulets and Not Burning Books, Ann Beman
Isolation, Jason A. Seivers

For a northern flying squirrel seen on Nov. 23, 1982, Elizabeth Lawson
Saturday, Tucker's Cave, Alisa Gordaneer
Bats Deserve Better, Kathleen March
For Life, Lynn Pattison
Scavengers, Catie Jarvis
Condor, Susan Edwards Richmond
Craning, Richard Downing
Cranes to Come, Marilyn Peretti
On Spotting a Pygmy Owl, Shirley S. Stevens
The Long View, Todd Davis
Piping Plover, Shirley S. Stevens
Obsolete, Todd Davis
The Day There Were No Birds, Constance Vogel
Faded Blue, Lisa Scott Hilton
Lament for the Karner Blue Butterfly, Donna Marbach
Starvation, Jason A. Seivers

About the Editors

     Karla Linn Merrifield holds a Master's of Arts in Creative Writing from SUNY College at Brockport, (Brockport, NY).  She has had poetry published in national publications such as CALYX; The Kerf; Redactions, Texas Poetry Journal; Blueline:  A Literary Magazine Dedicated to the Spirit of the Adirondacks; Earth's Daughters; Negative Capability; Paper Street; as well as in many anthologies, including Doorways: Families, Friends and Survivors of September 11th Reflect on Living with Loss (Sept. 2004) and Beyond Katrina (Nov. 2005). In fall 2004, FootHills Publishing published Midst, a collection of her nature poems.  She teaches writing at SUNY Brockport each fall and travels widely in North America the remaining months of the year.
  Merrifield's husband, Roger M. Weir, who holds a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Rochester, is a wordsmith of long practice and pleasure.   For 32 years he was on the professional staff at SUNY College at Brockport, serving as Division of Student Affairs' publications editor.  As someone who openly confesses that his love for poetry "ended with Yeats," he brought a unique editorial perspective to the creation of this anthology.   (He makes an exception for his wife's work.)

ISBN:  0-941053-93-8
The Dire Elegies
is a 120 page hand-sewn book with spine - $19.95



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