A self-proclaimed “Yankee” by birth, yet love-stricken by the foothills and mountains of East Tennessee, Frederick Waage has become an advocate for the environmental well-being of this area and the Earth as a whole.
After earning both his bachelor’s in 1965 and master’s in 1971 from Princeton University, Waage has worked in California, Illinois and Pennsylvania. After working with the Huntington’s Library and a magazine produced by Friends of the Earth group, Waage came to ETSU to work as an English professor.
“I’m a Yankee, and my wife Ginger is too; I came here just because it was the only job I could find at the time with teaching,” Waage said. “I am always somewhat dubious of Appalachian culture, but I love Appalachian nature.”
Waage unveils his love and appreciation for the environment through various scholarly articles that seek to promote ecological awareness. The impact of what he describes as a ‘post-hippie experience’ and the new environmental movement after the first Earth Day in 1970, ignited Waage’s commitment to environmental concerns and enthusiasm for writing.
In 2010, Waage published “The Seeking Creek Journal: An Environmental Book of Days” that is filled with daily accounts of his reflections and thoughts regarding his own environment.
“Sinking Creek actually runs through our property,” Waage said. “Beyond that are the foothills of Buffalo Mountain which have a multitude of ecological diversity.”
The January release of his newest publication, “This Mortal Earth: A Year of Beginnings and Ceasings,” follows a poetic style of daily journal entries that begin with his 67th birthday.
“I’ve spent a lot of time writing different genres, but ultimately I think my work is an emotional connection with nonhuman nature,” Wage said.
While his love of writing is apparent, he still recognizes the importance of finding balance among one’s personal versus professional life.
“I think it’s an important issue, and it’s important that you have a personal life,” he said. “There is the eternal question of how you balance your personal life and your professional life; they say if you’re lucky the two will mesh together.”
After reflecting on his writing career, Waage recognizes that not everyone may be interested in pursuing notoriety or a famous name if it means sacrificing other things they value such as time with family.
“Writing for a lot of people is a solitary pursuit,” Waage said.
“I may not have written or published as much as someone else, but I chose to make my family my main focus.”
His goal with writing isn’t notoriety or fame, but rather to display his own dedication to the environment in hopes that others may realize the beauty and importance it holds.
“I want people to realize that even a little bit of exposure to the outdoors can be so beneficial to your mind and body,” he said.