Lamson Library Exhibition Demonstrates Collaboration between Poet and Painter

November 9th, 2010 by Adam

Image: The Noxious 25¢ Song, DeLoss McGraw, etching on paper

Plymouth, N.H.Lamson Library and Learning Commons at Plymouth State University welcomes viewers to experience W.D.’s Midnight Carnival, a collection of 10 poems by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.D. Snodgrass; and 10 vibrant etchings by artist DeLoss McGraw, September 3 through December 22.

This collaboration began in 1976, when McGraw discovered Snodgrass’s poetry. The artist sent the poet a series of mixed-media paintings that incorporated the poet’s text into their composition. Snodgrass, in turn, responded with new poems inspired by these images, and thus occurred a melding of media and ideas between the artists, illustrating how the artist and poet inspire each other’s work, rather than simply describing it with images and words.

Published in 1988, this collection of poetry and art imparts color, playfulness, wit, humor, darkness, reflection, fear and suspense.

Art scholar and critic Robert L. Pincus said, “That this carnival should be held at midnight seems entirely right. For all of its gaiety, evident in McGraw’s use of color and imagery as well as in Snodgrass’s rich array of language, this carnival is slightly sinister. We find this darker side of it, for instance, in McGraw’s recurring skeletons and Snodgrass’s ‘House of Horrors,’ whose distortions highlight painful truths instead of simply amusing us.”
Snodgrass, who also wrote as S. S. Gardons, is a seminal figure in the Confessional School of poetry (although he dislikes that term), brutally honest examinations of intensely emotional and painful experiences, according to Literary Critic. Snodgrass often writes about topics of personal importance in candid, straightforward voice, rejecting “obscure and symbol-laden language.” Snodgrass says poets must ask, “Am I writing what I really think?”

Snodgrass was awarded the 1960 Pulitzer prize for Hearts Needle, a collection which was considered one of the most important works of its decade.

DeLoss McGraw’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout the United States and Europe. His pieces have received critical acclaim in more than 80 solo exhibitions, and are collected by institutions including Oxford, Syracuse, Temple and Cornell Universities, as well as by the Whitney Museum of American Art Library Collection, The Library of Congress, the San Diego Museum of Artand the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York recently acquired two of his paintings. His illustrated version of Alice in Wonderland won the Illustrator’s Society Book of the Year Award for 2002.

Lamson Library and Learning Commons is located on Highland Street in Plymouth, New Hampshire. The display is on the main level. Library hours are posted at

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