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Doing what I have to do


Missing out on the National Book Critics Circle Award
WD Snodgrass Poet
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There's one thing that would have made everything different. None of this would have happened except when that first book came out, it was the second year for the New York Book Critics Circle Award. Now, this award was set-up because all… all of the other awards were given for extraneous reasons, like, this guy should have got it for his last book. They didn't recognize how good that last book was. Or this guy should have got it because he's broke, and he's got to have his teeth fixed, and, you know, there was always some other reason than the excellence of the book that… that really led to the… nobody said… said this out loud. But… but all of the awards, the… the Pulitzers, the — what else was there — there was the National Book Award. And so they set up the National Book Critics Circle Award. And the first year, they did this. The second year, my book came up. And a person who was on the staff there told me, 'Your book had already been picked'. The Fuehrer Bunker had been picked to win it. Then Lowell died. So he had to have it. And it isn't, I think, one of his strong books at all. But that would have changed my income, for the rest of the… what schools I could teach at, whether people would speak to me or not… all of those things would have been different. That's the way it goes.

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: National Book Critics Circle Award, New York Book Critics Circle Award, Pulitzer Prize, The Fuehrer Bunker, Robert Lowell

Duration: 1 minute, 57 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008