Milky Way Accent by Bob Snyder


These poems are true – every one. True to the times, the places where we lived in those days. True to the voices, and true to love. Indeed, these are the finest love poems to my people and their way of being that I have ever known. Bob Snyder has given me back my own life here in West Virginia – the working class lives of my family and so many others who moved away to find work or be educated but kept coming back because they were of these hills and towns. Bob’s rhythms, voices, and music get to the heart of us like no other writer of our time. —Jack Spadaro, an Italian hillbilly from Mount Hope, W.Va.

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  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 128
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: September, 2020
  • ISBN: 978-1-948017-97-8


Bob Snyder’s poetry hitches the downhome to the sublime, the local—honky tonk, bebop, bus stations, and bedrooms in West Virginia and its global environs—to the galactic. Razor sharp, the poet’s self-deprecatory wit, combined with this panoramic perspective, risks reducing all of us to the inconsequential. Instead, his egalitarian ridicule and awe make our small enterprises integral to the vastness of the Milky Way.  With ideas filched from likely and unlikely sources, including comic books, opera, Medieval poetry, Beatniks, religious mystics, and Huey Long, his idiosyncratic warp drive carries readers from the playful dawn of “Aubade” near the beginning of the collection to the poignant concluding poem, “The Night Watch,” with its well-wishing and omniscient sentinel. —Edwina Pendarvis 

This remarkable, long anticipated volume validates Bob Snyder’s legendary status as one of West Virginia’s most influential poets and brilliant literary minds of the late 20th century.  He is the last of the hillbilly bohemians. In these poems, giant intellect intersects with backwoods angst set against the milieu of the mundane, the ordinary, the everyday of the Appalachia scene from the 1950s to the 1990s.  It is to the bone; rough-hewn lines said roughly, carving out big raw truths about the small raw souls around us in a goof-gonk language we all somehow recognize and understand.  It cuts quickly and deeply to the ugly pretty of this place and its people.  We are left silently circling above, surveilling the infinitely profound in the absurd theater of this minuscule corner of the universe, recognizing ourselves speaking in our familiar Milky Way Accent. —Kirk Judd

Bob Snyder was an igniting force in the Appalachian Literary Movement of the 1970s. I could talk about his influences—Beats, Basho, Bluegrass, Jazz, Catullus, Villon—but, as in the best of art, the poetry Snyder created from all he inhaled was itself an influence on a whole new generation of writers. He wrote with a “milky way accent,” never negating the particularity of that mountainous part of the galaxy from which he hailed, but never accepting anyone else’s definition of what being an Appalachian poet should mean. What a thrill, a quarter century after his death, to have been able to hear Bob Snyder’s poetic voice again in this collection, to listen as “each warm black note sang itself again.” —Pauletta Hansel



stiff as a weed in winter
with a fading goldengold clasp
the purse Mother kept of yours
so like the one which yielded
all kinds of funny book money
up here in the dreamsteep attic
opening it up reaching in
and from your very last pack
smoking one of your Phillip Morrises
separating my life into childhood and age
the blue brown smoke doing my heart good


Bob Snyder (1937-1995) was from St. Marys, West Virginia. He was the son of Robert W. and Malwina Snyder, and a graduate of St. Marys High School. A well known poet and literary critic, he was the author of We’ll See Who’s a Peasant (1977). He was an Editor of Soupbean Anthology (1977) and the periodical What’s a Nice Hillbilly Like You…? He graduated from West Virginia University with a B.A., the University of Cincinnati with an M.A. and from Harvard University with an Ed.D. He taught at Lesley College in Cambridge, MA and from 1972 to 1978 he was the Director of Antioch College/Appalachia in Beckley, WV.

Additional information

Weight 8.4 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .375 in