The Poet Ridiculed by Hysterical Academics

By W. D. Snodgrass 1926–2009
Is it, then, your opinion
                      Women are putty in your hands?   
                  Is this the face to launch upon   
                      A thousand one night stands?

First, please, would you be so kind
    As to define your contribution   
To modern verse, the Western mind
    And human institutions?

                                    Where, where is the long, flowing hair,   
                                        The velvet suit, the broad bow tie;   
                                    Where is the other-worldly air,
                                        Where the abstracted eye?

Describe the influence on your verse
    Of Oscar Mudwarp’s mighty line,   
The theories of Susan Schmersch
    Or the spondee’s decline.

         You’ve labored to present us with
             This mouse-sized volume; shall this equal   
         The epic glories of Joe Smith?
             He’s just brought out a sequel.

                  Where are the beard, the bongo drums,
                      Tattered T-shirt and grubby sandals,   
                  As who, released from Iowa, comes
                      To tell of wondrous scandals?

Have you subversive, out of date,   
    Or controversial ideas?
And can you really pull your weight   
    Among such minds as these?

                                    Ah, what avails the tenure race,   
                                        Ah, what the Ph.D.,
                                    When all departments have a place   
                                        For nincompoops like thee?

W.D. Snodgrass, “The Poet Ridiculed by Hysterical Academics” from Selected Poems, 1957-1987 (New York: Soho Press, 1987). Copyright © 1987 by W.D. Snodgrass. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Selected Poems 1957-1987 (1987)

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Poet W. D. Snodgrass 1926–2009

SCHOOL / PERIOD Confessional

Subjects Social Commentaries, School & Learning, Activities

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 W. D. Snodgrass


W. D. Snodgrass is often credited with being one of the founding members of the "confessional" school of poetry, even though he dislikes the term confessional and does not regard his work as such. Nevertheless, his Pulitzer Prize-winning first collection, Heart's Needle, has had a tremendous impact on that particular facet of contemporary poetry. "Like other confessional poets, Snodgrass is at pains to reveal the repressed, . . .

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SUBJECT Social Commentaries, School & Learning, Activities

SCHOOL / PERIOD Confessional

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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