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Childhood resentment of my baby sister Barbara


Gangs, fighting and non-violence
WD Snodgrass Poet
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I don't know, I was almost always part of... part of one gang or another and they were usually... they weren't the tough gangs, you know. The... the immigrant children would have very, really quite... quite tough gangs and some of these guys really were very tough. But I was never the leader of any of... of this thing, and we moved frequently as I said, you know, as... as we sort of went up the scale and each time you moved, then you had to fight the... the gang there. You had to have a fight — fist fight — with somebody and I was always terrified of this; I... I'd become so... so christianized and... and, you know, my mother's manners and so forth, that... that I... I would go to great lengths to avoid a fight. But finally I would have to... have to fight some guy and I usually did pretty well, now that I — to my utter amazement — but it never made it any easier I must say. It's very hard... it was always very hard for me to hit anybody hard enough to... to have any effect, I mean, I... I simply have restraints against that. I have... I have been in situations and — later — where something like that would come up and my... I would see my fists going all around somebody's face, but I couldn't hit them. You know, I... I just have a... a resistance against that kind of violence. I... I don't do it well so I decided to quit doing it.

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: gang, fighting, fist fight, immigrant, resistance

Duration: 1 minute, 46 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008