a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Dreaming on the psychoanalyst's couch


Learning from the students at Wayne State
WD Snodgrass Poet
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

The best student I… I had there I think was a great big thug named Rodzevic, who worked for Ford in a pickling plant. They pickle metals in… in acid, and what had happened was that his wife was dying of cancer and he was,  boy he was really feeling it, and so he had to have something else to think about, so he came to this poetry class. And he… when… when we talked about a poem, you… you know, he… he said things that were so brilliant but they were so couched in this thuggish language, that I think most of the people didn't realize he was the real sensitivity in that room. He… one day he said something so bright I had to send the class home. I thought: I can't… I can't rephrase that, I can't cap it; I can't do anything with it. I said: 'Go home and think about that!' I… I mean, I… I had to find a whole new way to teach there, which was that I wouldn't prepare. I could take a poet I did not understand at all, like Hart Crane. I would go in and I… I’d  just read this poem to the class and the fight would start, and it started every day, and it was marvelous… you had older people, you had people who were working full time at this, that and the other thing.

There were three… three girls in there who were models, people who worked in auto plants, people who… well, these… this school had been started by the Unions so that they could… that, you know, so that there would be a place for these people to go to college, and it was so much more fun and so much… I learned so much more. I… I really loved it there until this guy got a hold of it and started trying… he… first he threw out all… all the students who weren't… what's — I… I can't remember the term for it — who aren't going to finish a degree. They're just taking one class because they are interested in this. Those are people you want, for Christ's sake! He threw them all out. It was only people who were going to matriculate, and then he wanted dormitories and then there was to be a football team. We'd never had a football team; you know, these people are too busy, they are doing other… they are doing other things; they are working at every kind of job.

We had… one of our students was a bouncer at a gambling house, and when he got out of the… well, and also it was a great help… this was right after World War II, which was the great moment of American education. When he got out of the Marines, those of his friends who could, got on the police force. The other ones who couldn't, joined the mobs, and soon these guys who had been fighting side by side were now fighting each other. Some were… some were with the mobs and some were in the police force, and you… you got students like this, and that… it was marvelous. You were really learning something.

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: World War II, United States Marine Corps, Harold Hart Crane, Hart Crane

Duration: 3 minutes, 35 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008