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DeLoss McGraw and the Snodgrass lithographs


Doing what I have to do
WD Snodgrass Poet
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I don't know. I mean, I… I could see that I… you know, I… I was being more and more held in obscurity. And people weren't liking me… but I was used to that. I mean, you know, the stuff I'd done all my life, everybody said, don't do that! You know my… my father said: 'For God's sake, I mean you can't just… just go and… and be a poet. You know, you'll… you’ll starve to death, and… and your work will never come to anything'. Well, two weeks after that, I got the Pulitzer Prize. And, you know, the… so I figured that, ok, The [Fuehrer] Bunker… everybody says it… it's no good, and I'm no good for writing it. They told Frost the same things. And when he got to be 60, then they all changed their mind. I thought, maybe they'll all change their mind. Well, I'm almost 80, and a few have changed their minds. I don't know. I just had… I figured I… I'd do what I have to do. And that's all I do have to do.

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: Pulitzer Prize, The Fuehrer Bunker, Robert Frost

Duration: 1 minute, 16 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008