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Flash Hamilton the timpani player


Music was of great importance in my education
WD Snodgrass Poet
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When… when I graduated, I went to this little college for a year or so and that's where I met my first wife and started a… an affair with her and — a relationship — we were both virgins and… then I got... I got drafted, I went in to the Navy and I was out for about two years then— a year and a half on Saipan. When I came back I… I went back and took a class or two there, but I had these… I had realized by now that I could not make it as a musician, that I was not good enough. Up to then I had… oh I got to go back a little bit. Music was of great importance in my education and I got into it in the weirdest way that you possibly could. We… my mother and I and I think my sister went to a concert somewhere that was held at the high school and I was fascinated by the violins because I thought that the… the bow hairs were underneath the strings and I thought: How the hell do they ever get those underneath the strings and how do they get them back out so I asked my mother about this. Well my mother had always had a fantasy of playing the violin, she had always wanted to but she… out in the Midwest in Kansas or Nebraska or wherever they were growing up, they couldn't afford that, they couldn't afford a violin, they couldn't afford lessons. So, I think she encouraged me and I got a violin and started taking lessons. I was terrible and there is nothing in the world worse than a beginning violinist; I mean the sound is just absolutely excruciating. I think I took lessons for about 10 years. I never got out… I never got out of the first position, you know a… as you come up the neck, you go position by position to… to reach higher pitches, I never got out of the first position; how… how any of the neighbors stood it I don't… I just don't know. Then for a while I took some piano lessons and I was equally bad at that.

American poet WD Snodgrass, entered the world of poetry with a bang winning several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, for his first collection of poetry, Heart's Needle. A backlash followed his controversial fifth anthology “The Fuehrer Bunker”, but in recent years these poems have been reassessed and their importance recognised.

Listeners: William B. Patrick

William B. Patrick is a writer and poet who lives in Troy, New York. Among his work are the poetry volumes "We Didn't Come Here for This" and "These Upraised Hands", the novel "Roxa: Voices of the Culver Family" and the plays "Rescue" and "Rachel's Dinner". His most recent work is the non-fiction book "Saving Troy", based on the year he spent following the Troy Fire Department.

Mr. Patrick has been Writer-in-Residence at the New York State Writers Institute and has taught at Old Dominion University, Onondaga Community College, and Salem State College, and workshops in Screenwriting and Playwriting at the Blue Ridge Writers Conference in Roanoke, Virginia. He has received grants from the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

Tags: United States Navy, Saipan, Kansas, Nebraska, Midwestern United States

Duration: 2 minutes, 29 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008