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Ralph Ellison: looking honestly at oneself


Negative reactions to The Fuehrer Bunker
WD Snodgrass Poet
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I know what I think they meant, but I don't remember what they said. This is a long time ago, Bill. What they meant was: you're suggesting that we are able to understand these people. In other words, that we are enough like them that we could understand anything about them. That was my understanding of what… of what they said. Those weren't the terms in which they said this. Well, as a matter of fact, Hugh Kenner did say: ‘Snodgrass cannot understand anything about these people, and… and he has no business writing about them and should good… should get other material’ or something to that effect. And in general, they were… they tended to be anti. Sometimes they would say that they were very virtuoistic… you know that they're very fancy verse forms and interesting invented forms and what not.

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: Hugh Kenner

Duration: 1 minute, 6 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008