Chestertown, MD, October 13, 2003 — Pulitzer Prize winning poet W.D. Snodgrass will read at Washington College on Thursday, October 16, at 7 p.m. in the Sophie Kerr Room of the Miller Library. All are invited to this free event.
William DeWitt Snodgrass was born in Wilkinsburg, PA, in 1926. His more than twenty books of poetry include The Fuehrer Bunker: The Complete Cycle (1995); Each in His Season (1993); Selected Poems, 1957-1987; The Führer Bunker: A Cycle of Poems in Progress (1977), which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry; After Experience (1968); and Heart's Needle (1959), which won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1960. He has also produced two books of literary criticism, To Sound Like Yourself: Essays on Poetry (2003) and In Radical Pursuit (1975), and six volumes of translation. His honors include an Ingram Merrill Foundation award and a special citation from the Poetry Society of America, and fellowships from The Academy of American Poets, the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Snodgrass is often credited with being one of the founding members of the “confessional” school of poetry—a classification he vigorously eschews—having had a tremendous impact on that facet of contemporary poetry. “Like other confessional poets, Snodgrass is at pains to reveal the repressed, violent feelings that often lurk beneath the seemingly placid surface of everyday life,” observed critic David McDuff. Snodgrass' later works also show a widening vision, applying the lessons of self-examination to the problems of modern society. In style and technique, Snodgrass' poetry “successfully bridged the directness of contemporary free verse with the demands of the academy,” according to Thomas Lask of The New York Times.
The reading is sponsored by the Sophie Kerr Committee, which carries on the legacy of Sophie Kerr, a writer from Denton, MD, whose generosity has done so much to enrich Washington College's literary culture. When she died in 1965, she left the bulk of her estate to the College specifying that one half of the income from her bequest be awarded every year to the senior showing the most “ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor,” and the other half be used to bring visiting writers to campus, to fund scholarships, and to help defray the costs of student publications.