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Critics labeled The Fuehrer Bunker pro-Nazi


The first edition of The Fuehrer Bunker
WD Snodgrass Poet
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You know, I… I was very good friends with Al Poulin, who… who was the head of a… a poetry press  — BOA — which sort of stood for Boo and Al — that was him and his wife — and I did a reading for him someplace where I think I read one or two of these poems. And I was beginning to get bothered because everybody seemed to be saying, 'Well, Snodgrass used to write poems, and we never see anything of his in print anymore, and he's just faded out'. And mean… meantime, I'm working like hell on these… these poems about, about the… the big Nazis. And so I decided I'd… I'd like to see some of these in print. And I talked to Al and to his friend Bill Heyen about whether they… they would like to do that, and I said, but you know, I don't know whether it’s…  whether I'm through with it or not. He said, 'but we'll… we'll… we could do it as a… a… we'll call it Poems in Progress, or something like that'. And so they did that first book that way. And then, much later, I... I felt that I had finished, and I hope I'm right about that, although I still get urges now and then to go back and do… do some more different… but… but anyway, then… then  we decided, ok, we're through with this. We're done with it. And that's the one that had as its cover the sort of… it's… it’s like a… an X-ray of a skull. And… and we… because there… there are surviving X-rays of Hitler's skull, I believe. Yes, there are. And… we tried to get a hold of those. We couldn't get them. So what… what they did was they used just a… some… some wanderer, hobo, tramp that had been hauled up from the river there in Rochester… figured okay, good enough. Who else… who's going to know? And there is a, you know, sort of equation suggested by 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: Poetry Press, BOA, Nazis, Poems in Progress, Rochester, Al Poulin, William Heyen, Adolf Hitler

Duration: 2 minutes, 21 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008