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Poet Hicok Reflects on Economic Hardships in Mich.

Bob Hicok was born and raised in Michigan, worked in factories and once owned an automotive die design business there before becoming a professor at Virginia Tech. His poetry reflects on the economic hardships suffered in his home state.

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    Finally tonight, a different take on hard times in the auto industry. It comes from poet Bob Hicok. Last year, his fifth book, "This Clumsy Living," won the distinguished Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress.

  • BOB HICOK, poet:

    I am Bob Hicok. I'm a poet and professor. I teach at Virginia Tech. And I was born in Grand Ledge, Michigan. I am the middle of seven kids. There are three boys, four girls. I lived in Michigan until I was 43. So I'm 49 now, so all but six years.

    The trouble we're seeing now, I think, had showed up quite a bit earlier in the auto industry. We had seen that, but I was on the living end of that.

    The work that I did for probably about 20 years, auto die design, we designed the objects that stamp out car parts, anything from a hood or a door to a small bracket that would go inside a car.

    We hear the unemployment figures pretty commonly now about Michigan. It's kind of the poster child for the trouble we're going through. But the way that that shows up in people's lives, even though we hear those stories, to have a more intimate connection to them shows you just what it means to lose a home, to lose a job, to have to move back in with your folks.

    These are things that people had no expectation of ever having to deal with. And I would say people are substantially floundering.