Local poet, author Marjorie Maddox
Local poet, author Marjorie Maddox
The poet and author Marjorie Maddox, also known as Marjorie Maddox Hafer, of Williamsport and English and creative writing professor at Lock Haven University, has written 11 books of poetry and several children’s book. Maddox often switches genres and has a passion for writing poetry, creative non-fiction, fiction and children’s literature.
“Much of my writing focuses on the intersection of body and spirit; on place; and on personal, historical or current events. In short, I write because writing leads to discovery by bringing us face-to-face with ourselves, but also with others and with the world. It is a way to enjoy, endure, and sometimes better understand where we have been, where we are going, and whom we are meeting on the way,” Maddox said.
This summer, Maddox’s book “Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation” was re-released after winning the Yellowglen Prize, she said. This book is about Maddox’s father’s heart transplant that was unsuccessful and hopes to connect with the medical community.
“‘Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation’ chronicles my family’s journey — a journey of hope and grief that I hope may speak to what others also have experienced,” she said.
During the 1993 blizzard, Maddox was traveling to Ohio to visit her family and her father had been on a waiting list for a heart transplant, she said. With the bad weather, Maddox ended up turning around to head back to Pennsylvania.
In that snow storm, a man passed away in a car accident and Maddox’s father received his heart, she said. Although the transplant seemed successful, three weeks later her father passed away when his “blood became infected.”
Another book from Maddox is her 2017 chapbook “Wives’ Tales,” that has is spilt into two sections, “The Tales” and “The Wives,” she said. “The Tales” looks at fairy tales with a feminist twist while “The Wives” is written from the perspective of famous wives who are all married to men named Peter — Peter Pan, Peter Rabbit, Peter the Great, Pete Rose, Peter the Apostle.
Maddox also wrote “Local News from Someplace Else.” It talks about raising children in a world with “shootings and natural disasters” but despite the focus there still remains joy and hope in the book, she said. Considering recent events, this book has become more relevant for Maddox.
“One of the gifts of literature is to connect us with others by helping us to emphasize with those both like and not like ourselves, to see all news as local news, the personal and universal intersecting,” she said.
Maddox is currently working on a manuscript called “Seeing Things” that will discuss “memory, illness and their ramifications. The manuscript also will explore similar issues on a national level, particularly in the ways that we distort or preserve memory, define or alter reality, see or don’t see those around us. Throughout, I examine the physical, psychological, spiritual and political intersections that inform much of my work,” she said.
Not only does Maddox write poetry and prose, she also writes children books. She started writing children books in the last 15 years after being encouraged at a reading at Penn State University by a children’s librarian. Since, she has written “Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry,” illustrated by Philip Huber, Art professor at Lock Haven University, and “Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems.”
She also has written a “middle-grade biography of my great-granduncle, baseball legend Branch Rickey, and a young adult book on writing poetry,” Maddox said.
Growing up, Maddox’s family valued the arts, she said. Her aunt was a painter, her father a photographer and mother “an avid reader and art enthusiast.”
As a teenager, she submitted the stories and poems she wrote to church and school contests, Maddox said. Wherever she went she also always carried a notebook or book.
In addition to teaching at Lock Haven University, Maddox also is a co-editor for “Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania” with Jerry Wemple, poet and Bloomsburg professor, and an assistant editor of “Presence,” a literary journal.
“Writing is by nature such a solitary act, it can be good — invigorating even — to meet face-to-face, hand-to-hand or even ear-to-ear with my readers,” she said.
Maddox occasionally reads at libraries and universities and she is able to connect face-to-face with her readers and listeners, she said. She also reads at elementary schools to share and teach poetry to kids and students and enjoys doing radio book reviews and readings.
“If you love writing and are willing to wrestle with words, stick with your passion. Find a way to make it work,” Maddox said.
For more information about Maddox, visit www.marjoriemaddox.com.