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Pulitzer Prize-winning American poets W.D. Snodgrass and James Tate will visit Lafayette in October.

Snodgrass will give a public reading from his collection The Fuehrer Bunker at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14 in the Williams Center for the Arts. On Oct. 25 and 26 Tate will be on campus as the 1999 Closs Visiting Writer-in-Residence. He will give a public reading at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25, in the auditorium of Kirby Hall of Civil Rights and will interact with scores of Lafayette students in classes, informal sessions, and individual appointments.

“W. D. Snodgrass is a remarkable poet whose influence — particularly his innovations in regard to confessionalism — has been greatly significant,” says English professor Lee Upton, an accomplished poet and critic who is the first Lafayette faculty member to hold the title writer-in-residence. “The Fuehrer Bunker, a series of imagined monologues by Adolf Hitler and those who surrounded him in the days before his suicide, is a powerfully imagined and profound attempt to explore evil.” The reading, sponsored by the department of English and the department of religion, is free and open to the public.

Born in Wilkinsburg, Pa., in 1926, Snodgrass has published more than 20 books of poetry. They include The Fuehrer Bunker: The Complete Cycle (1995); Each in His Season (1993); Selected Poems, 1957-1987; The F├╝hrer Bunker: A Cycle of Poems in Progress (1977), which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and produced for The American Place Theatre; After Experience (1968); and Heart's Needle (1959), which won the 1960 Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

Snodgrass also has produced a book of literary criticism, In Radical Pursuit (1975), and six volumes of translation, including Selected Translations (1998), which won the Academy of American Poets' Harold Morton Landon Translation Award this year. Other honors include an Ingram-Merrill Foundation award and a special citation from the Poetry Society of America, as well as fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Students will meet with Tate — “a poet who resists all categories,” says Upton — in classes, informal sessions, and individual appointments.

“He's a very funny poet on one level — a wildly witty and irreverent poet,” Upton says. “Yet he is also a poet who speaks to contemporary anxieties and frustrations. While he was in his early twenties he received the prestigious Yale Poetry Series Award, and he has continued from that early age to produce poetry of great variety and remarkable energy. He is now one of the most highly honored of American poets. His poetry is greatly inventive in form and content.

“Our students will have remarkable opportunities to hear Tate read and to speak with him,” Upton continues. Sponsored by the department of English, his visit is made possible by the Closs Fund, established in memory of Fred Closs, a long-time member of the Lafayette English faculty and originator of Lafayette's Roethke Humanities Festival. “Through the generosity of Fred and Joan Closs, we're able to bring a poet of international distinction to campus — a poet who is known for his accessibility and generosity to students.”

Tate's residency will begin with a welcoming reception and question-and-answer session hosted by Susan Blake, professor of English, at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25, in the Marlo Room of the Farinon College Center. Refreshments will be served and the public is invited. Later that day, Tate will give a poetry reading at 8 p.m. in the auditorium of Kirby Hall of Civil Rights. This event also is free and open to the public.

On Tuesday, Oct. 26, Lafayette student poets will meet individually with Tate from l0 a.m. to noon. From noon to l p.m., Tate will meet with creative writing students for an informal lunch and discussion. From l:15 to 2:30 p.m., Tate will discuss his most recent book of poetry, Shroud of the Gnome, published by Ecco Press in 1997, with students in the English 205 class, “Literary Questions.”

Tate was born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1943. He is the author of 13 books of poetry, including Worshipful Company of Fletchers (1994), which won the National Book Award; Selected Poems (1991), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the Poetry Society of America's Williams Carlos Williams Award; and The Lost Pilot (1967), which was selected by Dudley Fitts for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. He also has published a novel, Lucky Darryl (1977), and a collection of short stories, Hottentot Ossuary (1974), and edited The Best American Poetry 1997.

Tate's honors include a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Poetry, the Tanning Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Snodgrass and Tate will bring to three the number of Pulitzer-winning poets at Lafayette this year. As part of the College's celebration of National Poetry Month in April, Yusef Komunyakaa read his work and served as judge of the annual MacKnight Black Poetry Contest for Lafayette seniors. Komunyakaa is the author of 10 books of poetry, including Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems (1993), which won the Pulitzer and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, given by Claremont Graduate University.

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