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In The Well

Andrew Hudgins

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the poem In The Well
Added by: John B. Lee
It is interesting to note, that in 1985, in my own book, Hired Hands, there appears a series of short prose poems under the title, "The Well" in which is described the experience of the central character, Thomas Sheil Malott, whose father hanged him upside down in a well, for wetting the bed. I'm wondering if Hudgins came to write "In the Well," after reading that book, or whether he came to the experience as related in his poem, completely independently from that work of literature.

Hired Hands is an 'award-winning' book which has gone through several printings.

I admire the work of Andrew Hudgins and would be most interested in knowing if he has read the aforementioned book.

John B. Lee
Added by: Charles Behlen
It would be interesting to find out if Hudgins' "In the Well" postdates Paul Ruffin's poem on the same subject. In both poems it is the father who lowers his son INTO the well. What's more, both wells possess drowned dogs. The Ruffin poem is excellent.
In the Well
Added by: Andrew Hudgins
This poem is a recasting in rhyming Quatrains of a poem in my book The Glass Hammer (Houghton Mifflin, 1994). That poem, "Dangling," had already been published in The Massachusetts Review sometime in the early 1980s, if I remember correctly. I'm afraid I do not know Mr. Lee's book. I know some of Paul Ruffin's work, but not the poem Mr. Behlan mentions.

My poem was based on personal experience. In my case it was being lowered, head first, off the side of a house by my father to paint a spot under the apex that we could not reach on a ladder. I grafted that experience onto an experience my cousin had. He was in fact lowered INTO a well, though right side up, to find out what was making the water foul.
decendents of col. john phillip hudgins
Added by: william boyce hudgins
dear dr hudgins, could you confirm whether you have any recollection of any family coming FROM the bellefonte alabama, or grapevine texas area. thank you, bill.
Added by: Charles Behlen
A poet as good as Mr. Hudgins certainly doesn't have to pick the bones of other writers for his treatments. Perhaps Mr. Hudgins and Mr. Ruffin should appear together on a website called "synchronicity.com".
"Cleaning the Well"
Added by: Paul Ruffin
A former student of mine sent me to this site.

Interesting discussion, but not likely to lead to any conclusions. My poem appeared in my first collection of poems, LIGHTING THE FURNACE PILOT in 1980, but it was first published in a journal in 1977 or 1978. That probably doesn't help answer the question about which came first, my poem or Andrew's. Mine was based on an actual experience, when my grandfather (not my father) sent me down to clean his well--I ran across a cat or possum skeleton or something. (I don't mention a dog in the poem.) It is not surprising to find older Southern poets writing about descending into a well: It is not something you can NOT write about, once you've done it. I'm sure Andrew had not read my poem when he wrote his, and I had not read his.

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