A Book at Last

  • VI. A Book at Last (12/3/1982 – 12/29/1983)

    mcnair-1982-001-c
    Wesley McNair and Woody, ca. 1983

    Among letters about mutual visits, hopes for a teaching position, new publications in magazines, and continuing adjustments of The Faces of Americans in 1853, is the most important news of this section: the acceptance of my book in August by the University of Missouri Press as the 1983 Devins Award winner, chosen by David Wagoner, who published my first poem in Poetry Northwest years before. I phoned Don immediately to give him the news, and I still remember his reply. “Wes,” he said, “I could kiss you.” As I say in my essay about our early correspondence (in Mapping the Heart), “I could have kissed him, too. I could have kissed the first ten people I saw.”

    devins-award-01
    Argus Champion, 1983

     

    I also notified Jerry Costanzo, editor of Carnegie Mellon University Press, who had written me a generous letter on February 1 about being unable to accept The Faces of Americans and his hopes of accepting it in the fall. In his response to my later news that the book had been taken by the University of Missouri, Costanzo offers the possibility of publishing my second book with him – though Don has already gotten “guarded interest” in my next book from David Godine.

    faces-americans-cover
    The Faces of Americans in 1853

    In August of 1983 Don has his own literary successes. His play, Ragged Mountain Elegies, is produced for the second time in Peterborough, New Hampshire. And he receives the Sarah Josepha Hale Medal for literary distinction at the Opera House in Newport, though I am unable to be in his audience, busy with summer teaching to pay for my son Sean’s first college year. Unfortunately, August is also the month of a setback for Jane that lasts throughout the fall: vertigo, resulting from an ear infection.

    But Jane soldiers on, as does Don, even though he has deeply mixed emotions about the play he has written, feeling both high and low about it. “We must fear depression,” he writes on September 16, “[and] we must fear elation…There is no ending this unless we stop being poets and writers.” At another time, I might find wisdom in these words. But what I feel, looking forward to the publication of my first book and my Devins Award reading in Columbia, Missouri, is elation, without qualification.

    [This section has 75 letters]

  • McNair to Hall: December 3, 1982

    Letter from McNair to Hall, December 3, 1982, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    December 3, 1982
    Dear Don,

    Here is another one for your collection.
    If it seems worthy, please pass it on
    to Joey.

    And please tell Joey the reason
    the tea is not helping his headaches
    is that it’s ginger tea he should
    be drinking, not the regular.

    Love,

    Wes

    THE WISH

    Bernice Manchester,
    who exchanged the veil
    for an apron, and wore it
    on Frank’s farm for fifty years,
    closing it each long summer
    around hot canning racks,
    each winter around reluctant
    lids of jam,

    who tied herself back
    into it after bearing
    each of his children,
    and grew old lacing herself
    into her black shoes
    and walking to the same
    places, stove, dining room
    and chickenhouse,

    who marched right through
    five decades with string beans
    and bread and apple pie
    for his hired men, who carried
    him eggs for breakfast
    through the great hurricane
    and windstorms no one knew
    about within,

    lay apronless at the end
    beside the pink flush
    toilet Frank installed,
    and with a far-off look
    announced that in her final
    rest, she wished
    to lie by him,
    the salesman

    everyone but Bernice had forgot
    died just after she married him,
    at seventeen.

    -Wesley McNair


  • Hall to McNair: December 6, 1982

    Letter from Hall to McNair, December 6, 1982, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    6 December 1982

    Wes McNair
    Box 43
    North Sutton, NH 03260

    Dear Wes,

    I like this one, and I will never like quite so much as
    the other recent ones, as your best work – because it is an
    anecdote only, because it depends upon a “trick ending,” and
    it does not quite survive that… But it is good anyway. It
    is just smaller.

    And there is one problem with it, as I see it. That is
    the meaning of the word “it” at the beginning. It could mean
    “veil,” or “apron,” but as it used at the end of the third line,
    by the sense of things, it must mean “apron”. But how do you
    close an apron around a canning rack? Or close it in the winter
    around reluctant lids of jam? In the latter case, maybe you
    use it for friction to open the canning lids.

    Obviously I am not getting something that you intend.
    Obviously I think it is your fault… Maybe not.

    The only other thing… I think that “a far-off look” is
    pretty trite. Otherwise I like it a lot, and I certainly intend
    to pass it onto Joey…but I think maybe you can touch it up a
    tiny bit.

    Joey is out digging up the sassafras root, so he can’t
    speak.

    Don


    A note from McNair about this letter: I eventually abandoned “The Wish,” (Don’s sense of a trick ending killed it), but bits of the poem’s imagery and narrative have reappeared over the years in three poems – ‘The Name,” “Remembering Aprons,” and part 5 of “Town Limits”.

    Read The Name (published version)

    Read Remembering Aprons (published version)

    Read Town Limits (published version)

  • McNair to Hall: January 7, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, January 6, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    January 7, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Could you and Jane come here for
    dinner this month? – say, January
    2! (a Friday), or maybe on the
    19th or 20th? That would give us a
    warm spot in a cold month—

    7:00 PM—your choice of date, just let
    me know—

    Wes


     

  • Hall to McNair: January 10, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, January 10, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    Not I think the 19-21, I’ve
    got to go to NY. Then we
    go south for a while—
    until 2 Feb; then
    readings 10-12 & 20—
    25 Feb.        Could we
    come in Feb or March?

    Love,

    Don


     

  • Hall to McNair, January ?, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, 01-1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    hoorah for Ape!

    A note from McNair about this letter: Don’s handwritten message arrived in its envelope clipped to a check from The Atlantic Monthly, which had just published my poem, “Mina Bell’s Cows.” In the poem, my character Mina Bell mourns the death of her cow, April, nicknamed “Ape.”

  • McNair to Hall: January 16, 1983 (1)

    Letter from McNair to Hall, January 16, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    January 16, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Hooray for Joey Amaryllis! In spite
    of the sub-zero weather, I am going ahead
    with my own January thaw!

    Joey can relax about the social security
    number. I will take care of that, and,
    I hope, have his $10 soon—enough for
    his monthly outing at Blackwater Bill’s—
    dinner, dessert, tip & gas!

    Thanks for the notice.

    Love,

    Wes


    A note from McNair about this letter: “Hooray for Joey Amaryllis” responds to Don’s “hooray for Ape” in the previous note…. Blackwater Bill’s is a rural diner near Don’s house that Don himself frequented.

  • McNair to Hall: January 16, 1983 (2)

    Letter from McNair to Hall, January 16, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    January 16, 1983

    Dear Don,

    I am sorry that you two can’t come over
    this month, but I understand why not,
    and I will write you again about it
    in late February March.

    In the meantime, here’s a poem which
    I hope you’ll look at sometime between
    readings and trips.

    My best Christmas present was two
    books by Donald Hall—The Weather for
    Poetry and Claims for Poetry. I am
    still poring over them and enjoying them.
    With all the talk about the lack of
    poetry criticism today, I’m glad to

    2/

    have so much of it (the criticism) at once!

    Incidentally, I recently read for the first
    time, and liked, the essays in Living off the Country,
    from the Michigan series. It made me
    go back to Haines’ poetry—especially that
    of Winter News, which I had never seen
    before.

    Thanks for all that good reading!
    Hope to see you and Jane soon –

    Love,
    Wes

    WHAT SLAUGHTERED ANIMALS CANNOT FIND

    The chickens cannot
    find their heads
    though they search for them,
    falling in the grass.

    And the great bulls
    are now on their knees,
    having no idea
    of how to stand.

    The sheep cannot find
    their voices. They run quickly
    on their sides,
    watching the sky.

    –Wesley McNair


    Editorial note about this poem: Haines is the poet John Haines.

  • Hall to McNair: January 18, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, January 18, 1983, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    18 January 1983

    Wes McNair
    Box 43
    North Sutton, NH 03260

    Dear Wes,

    I take it that old Costanzo is keeping you waiting?

    I’m not sure that the slaughtered animals comes entirely
    together now… And I am sure that it is close. I’m not sure
    about the title. The verb “find” doesn’t really work much
    with the second stanza. I just think it might be called The
    Slaughtered Animals… I like the first stanza perfectly.
    In the second stanza, you have two very boring verbs – “are”
    and “having.” I don’t think you could stand both of them.
    What about: “And the great bull/ remain on their knees/ having
    lost the idea/ of how to stand.” I’m not sure about the third
    line in my version…

    Then the sheep seems to me to give more problem. In the
    other cases, the sheep cannot find their heads because they
    are slaughtered… That is, the lack of heads and the slaughtering
    are two sides of each other… Same with the bulls being unable
    to stand… That is an immediate sign of their dying. Well,
    things that are dead can’t talk either…but that isn’t what
    you first think of. Chickens lose their heads, bulls fall to
    the ground…sheep stop bleating? It seems more distant, some-
    how. And then these – as opposed to the others, that do what
    they really do – keep moving. Chickens do indeed keep moving,
    after their heads are gone. And they might well be searching
    for their heads… But not the sheep. I mean to say, it is
    goofy and exciting – but I don’t think it adds up.

    We look forward to seeing you later.

    Glad you have been reading that writer you mentioned.
    Did you see him in last Sunday’s New York Times, book review,
    The Making of a Writer?

    Yes, the Haines is wonderful. Maybe the Louis Simpson
    is the best of all. Have you seen that one?

    Love to you both,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: January 24, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, January 24, 1983, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    January 24, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Thanks for your comments on the poem. I will put it far back
    in the drawer with “The Wish” (the one about Bernice
    Manchester). Both need much work, I see, but I don’t see
    yet how to redo them. On to other poems!

    I have not heard from Costanzo, though I did send
    him the manuscript and a letter (I had sent him still
    another copy of the manuscript and letters three months
    earlier.) Since the judging must have been done some
    time ago, I take it that Costanzo has singly forgotten
    to contact me and say, “Sorry, pal,” or words to that
    effect. Writing this, I’ve decided to write The Press
    and see what happened to the manuscript.

    I’ll let you know what I learn. I hope your “raids”
    (Mark Twain’s word for his own readings and lectures)
    are bringing you booty and satisfaction. Please congratulate
    Jane on her New Yorker poem (read about it in the
    Argus
    ). She must feel great about that!

    Love,

    Wes


    A note from McNair about this letter: Several months after I put “What the Slaughtered Animals Could Not Find,” far back in the drawer, I took it out again with Don’s comments in mind and wrote this version, which appeared in my second collection, The Town of No.

    Read Killing the Animals (published version)

  • Hall to McNair: January 25, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, January 25, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    25 Jan. 1983
    Wes McNair

    Dear Wes,

    I know that Costanzo is trying to balance
    seventeen balls in the air at once… unable to
    take books he wants to take, because of money –
    waiting for money, hoping that it will come in so
    that he can agree to print books. So I am not at
    all sure that he has forgotten…much more likely
    that he is temporizing.

    Jane is embarrassed that Charlotte must have
    put that New Yorker sale in the paper! Funny…

    Love as ever,
    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: February 4, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, February 4, 1983, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    February 4, 1983

    Dear Don,

    “Great Day in the Cow’s House” is a beautiful
    poem—lovely and full and visionary.

    What dimension that paragraph 5 gives
    the poem!

    It is one of your best, I think. Reading
    it has made my day.

    Wes


    A note from McNair about this letter:  I discovered this poem in the American Poetry Review for January/February, 1983.

    Read Great Day in the Cow’s House (published version)

  • Hall to McNair: February 7, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, February 7, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    7 Feb 83

    Dear Wes—

    Delighted you find
    my cows have made
    it!

    You & Jane in the
    Feb Poetry together,
    & you in Atlantic
    all over the place!

    Love,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: February 8, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, February 8, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    February 8, 1983

    Dear Don—

    Enclosed are a couple of letters, one from Costanzo
    to me, the other from me to him. They will explain
    the current situation with Carnegie-Mellon—good,
    though still iffy. I thought Joey might want to
    have them.

    For your—and his—information, I have sent
    the book to AWP, Walt Whitman, and
    the National Poetry Series. Please let me know
    if you think I should send it to U Missouri—
    Is the so-called “Breakthrough Series” there
    a good thing to shoot for—or not?

    Finally saw your NYTimes article, and
    enjoyed it. I believe a published book would
    not “sustain” me—but I still want one!

    Love,

    Wes

    PS—Thanks for the Atlantic Monthlys!

     

    February 1, 1983

    Dear Wesley McNair,

    I’m sorry not to have responded sooner. We began reading
    manuscripts in November and we received so many more than we’d
    expected to that we didn’t finish until mid-January. The real
    bind we’ve found ourselves in is a financial one however.
    NEA eliminated “General programs” to which we apply and put
    university presses in with small presses. This decision was
    announced two weeks about the deadline for small press applications
    and they would not accept late applications. We are in the
    same boat as Pitt, Georgia, and others. We miss a year of
    finding from them and cannot hope for any funds until Sept. of
    this year. I’d hoped to get some additional funding for
    poetry from the university, but it didn’t happen. What this
    means is that we’ll only be able to produce three books in 1983
    instead of six to eight. These books are in progress now
    and were accepted last year.

    Out of the latest round of readings the only manuscripts I’d
    want to publish are yours and Patricia Goedicke’s, and I’m
    sorry I can’t offer each of you contracts right now. I’m not
    permitted to offer contracts withoutactual (sic) money in place to
    produce the book.

    I’d like to ask if you’d be willing to let me keep a copy of
    your manuscript until September. No doubt you have it circulating
    elsewhere and to continue to do so would be fine with me. I
    can’t guarantee you anything because I have no guarantee that
    I’ll ever have money for poetry again. But I hope to, and as
    you know from last year, I like your manuscript. Certainly I’ll
    be able to give you a decision by then. I don’t want you feeling
    in limbo (like I feel), and continuing to circulate your manuscript
    should help that. If you’re agreeable, I’d like you to let me
    know as soon as possible. Again, I’m sorry I can’t offer to
    publish it right now: THE FACES OF AMERICANS is a terrific book!

    Yours,
    Gerald Constanzo

     

    February 7, 1983

    Dear Jerry Costanzo:

    Thank you for your letter. I am sorry to hear about your problem
    with funds. It is bad news—easily as bad for you as for me. I
    can imagine how frustrating the N.E.A. switch must have been,
    given the publication schedule you had hoped for.

    Still, I am very glad you like my book well enough that you
    might want to publish it. I do understand that there are no
    guarantees here, and why there can be none. But I would be
    most pleased to have you do the book, if that should turn out
    to be possible. I am therefore entirely willing that you keep a
    copy of the manuscript until September, when you will be better
    able to make your decision.

    On the chance you may not be able to publish my manuscript, I
    will continue to circulate it, as you suggest. In the meantime,
    thank you very much for taking the time to fill me in on your
    predicament. And thanks especially for saying my book is
    “terrific”. Your enthusiasm continues to sustain me, in spite
    of all!

    Sincerely,

    Wesley McNair


    Editorial note about this letter: The Atlantic Monthlys McNair mentions in his post script were complimentary author copies sent by Joey.

  • Hall to McNair: February 14, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, February 14, 1983, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    14 February 1983

    Wes McNair
    Box 43
    North Sutton, NH 03260

    Dear Wes,

    Good to have your letter, and I am pleased
    with the letter from Costanzo. I think that
    that publication seems highly likely. The
    letter means exactly what it says, and nothing
    more…and it could be (one must always remember
    it!) that by the time he gets more funding (assum-
    ing that he gets it) he will have discovered
    several manuscripts which have displaced
    The Faces
    in his affections. It is always possible…
    But I don’t think it is ruddy likely, and I think
    that there is some security in having this
    probability to fall back on – and in the meantime
    we keep busy. You and me both.

    Love as ever,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: February 14, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, February 14, 1983, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    February 14, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Do you think this poem is better
    with the word “begun” in line 7,
    to prepare the reader for the double negatives
    (mistaken verbs) on p. 2?

    If you do, please tell Joey that
    next time the poem goes out (if it’s
    in the mail now), he might send this
    very slightly revised version.

    Thank you.

    Love,

    Wes

    I am in good company in the February poetry–!
    Just got my copy today & found, as you said
    I would, poems by Jane Kenyon!


    A note from McNair about this letter: The poem referred to in this letter is “When Paul Flew Away,” with one final change.

     

  • Hall to McNair: February 15, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, February 15, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    15 Feb. 1983

    Wes McNair

    Dear Wes,

    Looks good to me. Will do…

    Best as ever,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: March 9, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, March 9, 1983, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    March 9, 1983

    Dear Don,

    This is without a doubt bad timing, but I believe I have
    just decided on the proper form for my book. I wish I could have
    made the changes you’ll find in the enclosed earlier. In any case,
    they are not extensive ones. I have taken out five poems and
    added two new ones. The poems I’ve deleted are: For My Father,
    The Thin Man, the two verses on “fat”, and Beggars. I hope I can
    put these in a future volume, but I’ve come to feel they interfere
    with the shape that’s possible without them. The poems I’ve added
    are: Small Towns Are Passing [& “After the Ice”]. Also, I’ve added chapter headings
    derived from poem titles–this to explain the movement of a journey
    backward in time–and I’ve put back the citation from Roethke, again
    to underscore the idea of the journey. It seems to me that the new
    text is more coherent and gives the poems of the book a new interest
    and resonance.

    I imagine the manuscript you have is out right now–in which
    case, I hope you’ll just leave it wherever it is. I’m assuming that
    the changes are not so significant they can’t be discussed later
    if Joey should happen to hit. If your manuscript is returned for
    other submissions, the enclosed could be mailed.

    Unless, of course, you and Joey feel that the enclosed is
    awful. Please let me know what you do think, when you can. Also,
    please tell me if this month is still open for a possible dinner
    here…I enclose a check taken from the Poetry money I got. Sorry
    for the delay; I kept forgetting!

    Love,

    Wes


     

  • Hall to McNair: March 9, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, March 9, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    9 March 1983

    Wesley McNair

    Dear Wes,

    It looks good to me. You left out some
    good stuff…but it looks very good to me. Let
    us go with this.

    Best as ever,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: March 13, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, March 13, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    March 13, 1983

    Dear Don,

    I’m glad you like the new
    arrangement for the book well enough
    not to object.

    I need to re-ask a couple of questions,
    which will require only the briefest of
    responses. First, what do you think of
    my sending the book to U. Missouri
    (the Devins Award)? Would publication
    there give the poems as much “play”
    as publication at Carnegie-Mellon
    would? Second, can you and Jane
    come over sometime during this month
    for dinner, or is it another hectic
    time for you both?

    I have sent the new version of the
    book to Pittsburgh, and I will be
    sending 5 poems to Houghton-Mifflin
    in May. Aside from U/MO, these are
    the only places I can think of for now.

    Best to you & your writing,

    Wes


     

  • Hall to McNair: March 15, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, March 15, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    15 March 1983

    Wes McNair

    Dear Wes,

    I think it is a good idea to send the book
    to the Univ. of Missouri for the Devins Award.
    Oddly enough, it is Jerry Costanzo who is my
    authority for that judgment. He takes that award
    very seriously.

    I think it would be equal to the Carnegie-
    Mellon.

    Jane and I would love to come over. We are
    both teetotal just now. Me permanently. Can you
    stand it?

    Best as ever,

    Don


     

  • Hall to McNair: March 25, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, March 25, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    25 March 1983

    Wes McNair

    Dear Wes,

    Saturday the 9th it is. What time? On the
    first day I am getting back from Tennessee, and it
    is Good Friday, and visitors, the next day… On
    the 8th we have a visitor for a good part of the
    day anyway. We look forward to it.

    Best as ever,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: April 6, 1983 (1)

    Letter from McNair to Hall, April 6, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    April 6, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Glad to know you are coming this
    Saturday. Did I say when the show
    starts? 6:30 PM. See you then.

    Wes


     

  • McNair to Hall: April 6, 1983 (2)

    Letter from McNair to Hall, April 6, 1983, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    April 6, 1983

    Dear Don,

    I hope you like this. Please let me
    know!

    Love,

    Wes


    Editorial note about this letter: The poem referred to is “The Portuguese Dictionary.”

    Here is the text of “The Portuguese Dictionary” as sent to Hall:

    Each morning Charley
    the house painter
    went to work, he left
    his clenched face
    holding its unlit
    cigar, and his old hands
    moving in their dream
    of painting pastel colors
    on new houses that stood
    in cow pastures. He
    was selling sewing machines
    in Brazil, just as if
    thirty-five years
    had never happened. This
    was why each afternoon
    he looked right through
    the baffled landowners,
    come to imagine
    their twiggy sticks
    would soon be trees.
    Why when he got home
    he never even saw
    his wagging, black
    habit of a farm dog,
    or thought about his mother
    nodding in the far room
    among the water-stained
    explosions of roses. Already
    Charley was at his desk
    down in the cellar,
    waiting for his slow
    legs and hands to come
    and get the index cards
    out from the shelves of dead
    pickles and jams. Already
    he was thinking
    of the name for sky
    with no clouds in it.
    Or of the happy words
    the women of Brazil said,
    working the treadle.
    Or of the lovely
    language of the face
    and legs and hands he learned
    from a boy one night
    beside the dark sea,
    in some other life
    of his lost body.

     

  • McNair to Hall: April 7, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, April 7, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    April 7, 1983

    Dear Don,

    I made a mistake on the first
    verb of “The Portuguese Dictionary.”
    The verb should be CAME, not WENT.

    Wes


     

  • Hall to McNair: April 11, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, April 11, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    11 April 1983

    Wes McNair

    Dear Wes and Diane,

    What a pleasure to see you – and to eat
    Diane’s cooking! Just lovely… And the poem
    is wonderful. The more I read it the more I love
    it. No problems with it at all. Beautiful.

    Don


    Read The Portuguese Dictionary (published version)

  • Hall to McNair: April 15, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, April 15, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    15 April 1983

    Wes and Diane McNair

    Dear Wes and Diane,

    Can you please come to supper at six o’clock
    on May 7th? I hope so.

    Love as ever,

    Don


    :

  • Hall to McNair: April 18, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, April 18, 1983, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    18 April 1983

    Wes McNair
    Box 43
    North Sutton, NH

    Dear Wes,

    Iowa Review took “The Longing of the
    Feet.” Please address this biographical
    information sheet to D. Hines/ Iowa Review/
    308 EPB/ University of Iowa/ Iowa City, IA 52242.

    Love,

    Don


    Read The Longing of the Feet (published version)

  • McNair to Hall: April 21, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, April 21, 1983, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    April 21, 1983

    Dear Don,

    I’ve just discovered something I should have
    thought of before I responded to your dinner
    invitation. I will be teaching a class at New
    Hampshire College (the first class of a 2-month
    course) and therefore will not be able to get to
    your house until 7:00.

    If the delay does not matter that much to
    you and Jane, we’d of course be glad to
    come anyway. But I assume the delay does
    matter, and that we’d better come at some other
    time. In either case, I apologize for my
    absent-mindedness. (Someday I will trade my
    head in for one with fewer spaces.)

    Please let me know where we go from here!

    Love,

    Wes


     

  • McNair to Hall: April 25, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, April 25, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    April 25, 1983

    Dear Don,

    What good news about Iowa Review! Thanks.
    I have sent the bio notes in, as you requested.

    I enclose a copy of “The Portuguese Dictionary”,
    as I believe your copy has a cross-out
    on it. Please use the enclosed as the
    “official” version.

    I imagine, somehow, that Peter Davison
    might like “When Paul Flew Away” and “Mute”.
    Did Joey imagine the same thing, by any
    chance?

    I have gotten a new letter from Jerry
    (we are now “Jerry” and “Wes”) Costanzo,
    who for some reason speaks no “if’s” now
    in discussing publication of my book.

    Printing it through Carnegie-Mellon seems even
    more likely.

    Which is OK with me–for more reasons
    than the obvious one. I do not wish to be at
    Colby more than two years longer. The old
    girl now seems certain to founder. If she
    doesn’t, there will be no fun on deck.
    Diane and I are already preparing ourselves–
    psychologically, right now–to push off.

    Thanks again for the invitation–I do
    hope we can work something out (pen died.)
    for that Saturday, or maybe for a
    Friday sometime soon.

    Love,

    Wes


     

  • Hall to McNair: May 3, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, May 3, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    Just back from a week [arrow indicates in Ann Arbor]. Do
    come at 7 or as soon as
    you can!

    Love,

    Don


     

  • Hall to McNair: May 4, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, May 4, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    4 May 1983

    Wes McNair
    Box 43
    North Sutton, NH 03260

    Dear Wes,

    It will be lovely to see you on Saturday, 7 o’clock
    or whenever.

    I love the Portuguese Dictionary. Peter Davison sees
    everything.

    Very good news about Jerry. What did he say about
    publication of the book? Is he talking dates?

    I am writing however about something else, which we
    may not be able to talk about Saturday. I am not sure
    about the politics of it. (A couple of other C-S sorts will
    be here.)

    You write “I do not wish to be at Colby more than two
    years longer.” Now it may well fold and you will have to get
    another job. But please do not think that because you have a
    book you will be able to get a job. It is terribly, terribly
    hard to get a job these days. I have watched Richard Tillinghast
    struggle for three years, with three books from the Wesleyan
    University Press. Last year I was down seeing David Bottoms –
    winner of the Walt Whitman Award, his book published by
    Random House or somebody with an introduction by Robert Penn
    Warren…and he had been looking for work for three years with
    absolute unsuccess.

    It is terribly hard out there. Some of the best teachers
    I know, some of them with books, have had to give up college
    teaching entirely and go into other kinds of work. Others have
    gone into prep school teaching. People with MFAs, many many
    people with Ph.D.s, and with books, cannot find jobs.

    I would keep a close eye on New Hampshire College, for
    that matter… Some people of course put a living together
    by teaching one course there and one course there…totally exhausting.
    Much worse than your present job at Colby-Sawyer. But it is
    better than the alternative.

    A book will not help much. I get the impression that you
    think it will. Of course it is better than not having one!
    But a book does not get you a job. It once did. It no longer
    does. There are fewer jobs and more books.

    Please understand that I am speaking nothing about quality,
    and when I speak nothing about quality, I am realistic. The people
    who do the hiring – and I mean not just the Deans but the Professors

    2/

    of English and the chairman of departments – they know nothing
    about quality. It is all “subjective,” you see. They look into
    other things – and what they look into is the Prestige Index.
    A book will help. The Atlantic and Poetry will help…but
    you may well be up against people who have published a book
    (far inferior to yours!) which won the Walt Whitman Award
    and was published by a big New York publisher and had an
    introduction by Robert Penn Warren! Who can’t get the job.

    My point is: Start looking now. Stick to the job at
    Colby-Sawyer as long as there is a job at Colby-Sawyer. Look
    around for other parttime jobs besides New Hampshire College
    in case worse comes to worse. Investigate every opportunity
    everywhere. And of course, listen to my advice, who speak
    as the ultimate oracle!

    Love to you,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: May 16, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, May 16, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    May 16, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Thanks again for the pleasant evening
    at Eagle Pond Farm.

    A post mortem: I did remember to
    write “thirty five years” in that poem
    The Portuguese Dictionary–rather than
    “twenty five years”–didn’t I?

    Wes


     

  • Hall to McNair: June 5, 1983

    Letter from Poetry to Hall, June 5, 1983, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    June 5, 1983

    Dear Mr. Amaryllis,

    Thanks for letting us see Wesley
    McNair’s poems. The ones we particularly
    like are

    “Mute”
    “Big Cars”.

    Glad to have those for POETRY.

    Best wishes to you and Mr. McNair.

    John F. Nims


     

  • Hall to McNair: June 6, 1983

    Letter from Poetry to McNair, June 6, 1983, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    6 June 1983

    Notice of Acceptance

    The editors of POETRY are pleased to accept the
    following for publication:

    MUTE
    BIG CARS

    Wesley McNair
    c/o Amaryllis Inc.
    Box 71
    Potter Place, NH 03265


    Read Mute (published version)

    Read Big Cars (published version)

  • Hall to McNair: June 9, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, June 9, 1983, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    9 June 1983

    Wesley McNair
    Box 43
    North Sutton, NH 03260

    Dear Wes,

    John Frederick Nims is nearly relentless!

    I cannot find my notes. Which is the poem
    that Iowa took?

    Does it seem definite enough with Jerry,
    so that I should not send the manuscript out
    elsewhere? (I have it back just now.) I am
    wondering: suppose somebody else took it, then
    would you feel embarrassed about withdrawing
    it from Costanzo? A delirious thought of
    embarrassment, heaven knows…but I wonder.

    Best as ever,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: June 13, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, June 13, 1983, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    June 13, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Thank you, thank you for your note about the Poetry
    acceptances. You’ve made my day.

    Your note arrived just as I heard (belatedly)
    about your being chosen for the Hale medal.
    I am very pleased for you, especially since Frost got
    it first. There’s nobody who deserves it more.

    The poem Iowa took is “The Longing of the Feet”…
    About the definiteness of the CMU connection. All
    I can say is that Jerry Costanzo seems serious,
    but has himself mentioned that I should
    continue sending it elsewhere until September.

    So I guess you should continue sending it.

    Best to you both–and to Jane–

    Wes


     

  • Hall to McNair: July 8, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, July 8, 1983, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    8 July 1983

    Wes McNair
    Box 43
    North Sutton, NH

    Dear Wes,

    Thanks for the poem. I don’t like this one so much, and
    I cannot tell how much of it is the poem, and how much of it is
    my incomprehension… I am not sure. I think that the faith
    healer is speaking. But at the end, is it that he falls down
    and holds onto the boy’s wheelchair, or do we learn that he is
    in a wheelchair himself? I am troubled by the dialect, or what-
    ever we call it when the writer does a spoken grammar. It
    doesn’t sound real to me – but I don’t mean to say that it is
    not real, not even like a transcription. I find it unconvincing.
    Joey will be happy to send it out anyway. But it is not one
    of my favorites, or not yet at any rate. I suppose I’m not
    quite sure how the father did it, when the boy remains only
    a chest, no limbs at all apparently. And I guess the whole
    thing doesn’t especially add up to me. Sorry about that.

    In general I save things until the New Yorker opens up,
    as you know.

    Love as ever,

    Don


    Editorial note about this letter: The poem Hall comments on is “The Faith Healer,” which McNair sent to him in his previous letter. (Eventually Hall changed his mind and liked the poem.)

    Dispensing with the occasional dialect Hall mentions in this letter, McNair decided to keep the rest of “The Faith Healer” as he had it despite Hall’s objections, sending to Wilmot his new draft on 9/25/1983. This became the published version, appearing in Poetry magazine and receiving, together with “The Portuguese Dictionary” and “Remembering Aprons,” Poetry’s Eunice Tietjens prize for 1984. See the final paragraph of Hall’s letter on 10/7/1983, where he questions his criticism of the poem.

    Read The Faith Healer (published version)

  • McNair to Hall: August 1, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, August 1, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    August 1, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Just got news that my manuscript made the
    final round for the Devins Award in the U.-
    Missouri Breakthrough Series. I am supposed to
    learn who won later this month. Here we go
    again! I am trying to “expect nothing”.

    More later.

    Best,

    Wes


     

  • Hall to McNair: August 3, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, August 3, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    3 August 1983

    Dear Wes,

    Good news about the
    Devin’s Award. You must
    realize that the “Final Round”
    might be fifty or a hundred
    books. Expect nothing! except
    in general…

    Love,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: August 11, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, August 3, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    August 11, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Just wanted you to know, while you are toting up
    tributes for your special issue of Ploughshares,
    that “Old Trees” was requested the other day
    for The Anthology of Magazine Verse & Yearbook
    of American Poetry
    , 1984.

    Will see you (if you’re there when we go)
    in Peterborough!

    Love,

    Wes


    A note from McNair about this letter:  I refer in my second paragraph to attending the new production of Don’s play, Ragged Mountain Elegies, in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

  • McNair to Hall: August 12, 1983 (misdated 12/7/83)

    Letter from McNair to Hall, December 7, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    12/7/83 [letter is misdated, should be 8/12/83]

    Dear Don–

    Thanks for the straight talk
    about the poem–even though in
    this particular case, it hurts.

    I find that I (stupidly enough)
    forgot to mention my pleasure
    at seeing your poem in the
    Atlantic. Always liked that one!

    Will hang onto “The Faith Healer”
    until the end of the summer &
    then have another go at it for
    new submissions.

    Best,

    Wes


    A note from McNair about this letter: In the opening paragraph I refer to Don’s “straight talk” about “The Faith Healer.” His criticism hurt because in that poem, I felt I had found a way to deal with a father’s violence toward a son, violence that I knew from my relationship with my stepfather. As it turned out, this poem opened the way to my later poetry about that violence.

  • McNair to Hall: August 18, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, August 1983, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    August 18, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Thought you might want to see Costanzo’s
    response to my letter about the Devins Award.
    I was awfully pleased with his comments
    about the Award, my book and future possibilities
    at Carnegie-Mellon. (As you know, I am more
    than half finished with book II.) Not the best
    idea, probably, to photocopy someone else’s letter
    and send it, but I can’t imagine Gerry
    would mind my showing it to you.

    Calls back and forth have already begun
    with U/Missouri. Wonderfully enough, they
    are interested in my ideas about the
    book jacket–and other matters of presentation.

    2/

    I was happy to learn from Greg Martin,
    their sales person, that advertising for the
    book, among academic journals and poetry
    magazines, will be extensive.

    How wonderful it is to be writing about
    a book!

    We will be at your play on August 23.
    Then there’s that Hale Award! You do make
    our month busy!

    Love,

    Wes

    P.S. Were you aware that Frost, the first recipient
    of the Hale Award, wrote a parody of Sarah Josepha
    Hale’s poem, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”? (I got
    this from Raymond Holden, the poet, who spoke about
    Frost in Newport before he (Holden) died.):

    “Mary had a little lamb;
    His name was Jesus Christ.
    God, not Joseph, was the ram,
    But Joseph acted nice.”
    –!

    ——————————————————
    482 Queen Anne Road
    Harwich, MA 02645
    August 15, 1983

    Dear Wes,

    Congratulations! I’m very happy for you even though a bit disappointed
    that it won’t be us this time around. I think the Devins is a terrific
    award. I won it and they published my first book in 1975. A year later
    they produced an LP record which featured a reading of mine and the
    following year’s winner. Ed King and his people have always been more
    than kind to me. Missouri’s distribution is much better now that Harper
    & Row is distributing for them, too.

    The only problem, as you already seem to gather, is that they don’t do
    any “second” books by people they begin with. But you’ll find that I’ve
    been rather partial to former Devins winners at Carnegie-Mellon. Winners
    I’ve published books by are John Calvin Rezmerski, Peter Cooley (not a winner
    but a runner-up who they did anyway), Jonathon Holden, and Ed Ochester.

    I might say that as far as I’m concerned your manuscript is the best
    one to win that award in ages (probably since mine, he said humbly) and
    I’m really pleased. We were to have visited Hall’s this weekend and I
    was hoping to meet you, but those plans have fallen through. But have
    Missouri send me a copy when it is out and we’ll review it in Three Rivers
    Poetry Journal. When I get back to Pittsburgh I’ll send my copy back
    to you.

    Again, congratulations. This is something you really deserve.

    Yours,

    Jerry


    A note from McNair about this letter: Days earlier, I phoned Don to tell him that the poet David Wagoner had selected The Faces of Americans in 1853 for the 1983 Devins Award (a cash prize of $500, with book publication and a public reading at the University of Missouri). He was as excited as I was.

  • McNair to Hall: August 21, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, August 21, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    August 21, 1983

    Dear Don,

    If in this period of your crazy activity you get
    a moment free, will you please take a look at the enclosed
    and tell me what you think?

    We look forward mightily to your play.

    Love,

    Wes

    REMEMBERING APRONS

    Who recalls the darkness
    of your other life,
    sewn shut

    around feed grain,
    or remembers your release
    to join your sisters,

    the dishcloths, now
    ampleness and holes? Not
    the absent hands

    that tied you
    behind the back,
    already forgetting. Old

    stove-gloves,
    soft baskets
    for tomatoes,

    how thoughtlessly
    they used you, and yet
    how wonderful

    in being left out
    was your inclusion! Oh
    tough dresses

    without closets,
    lovely petticoats
    that flashed

    beneath the frayed
    hemlines of barncoats
    all over Vermont.

    –Wesley McNair


    Editorial note about this letter: In the days after sending Hall his first version of “Remembering Aprons,” McNair revised the order of his third sentence, creating this final draft:

    Read Remembering Aprons (published version)

  • Hall to McNair: August 24, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, August 24, 1983, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    24 August 1983

    Wes McNair
    Box 43
    North Sutton, NH 03260

    Dear Wes,

    As you suspected, I cannot read the poem
    now.

    Very nice letter from Costanzo. I come
    to trust him more and more. I was a little
    leery of him, when I first met him.

    It is very good about the second book
    business. I should say that David Godine has
    expressed some guarded interest also.

    I wired him not to come that weekend,
    chiefly because we were semi-hysterical with
    visitors and work and the play… Then in
    fact Jane went into the hospital, by ambulance!
    She will be all right. It looked as if it could
    be something awful, but it isn’t. It is a severe
    infection of the inner ear causing total
    vertigo etc. She still cannot read – but she
    is perceptively better.

    He wrote me as he wrote you, and over the
    telephone spoke of his hope he could do a book
    by you in the future… Money in the bank!

    Love as ever,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: August 26, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, August 26, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    August 26, 1983

    Dear Don,

    The news about Jane is upsetting. I’m certainly glad to learn she
    is now “perceptively better”, and I do hope you pass on Diane’s and my
    best wishes. I also hope that your period of chaos will soon pass.

    In the meantime, please forget about that poem–or any other–
    until I send along a group for submission. I will be giving
    you slightly revised versions of the “Paul” poem, “The Faith
    Healer” and maybe “Aprons”, too. Also, I’ll retype a couple
    or three which have not been sold yet, so you’ll have them all
    together. Finally, even though summer has been full of work
    to pay for Sean’s college, I expect to have a couple of new pieces.

    They play was wonderful. There were certain parts of it, particularly
    in the last act, which I want to talk with you about (I hope
    we can do that when we get together for dinner). But I
    found so much of it so very moving. And of course the audience
    was just mad for the thing. You have a deadly ear for the
    speech, tone and humor of this area’s people. I’m sure
    that, as much as the play’s content, was what got to those who
    were there on Tuesday night.

    I am, of course, delighted with the possibility of publishing
    a second book with Costanzo. It’s also good to know of the
    “guarded interest” of Godine, and I thank you for your
    efforts there.

    We could not, as it turned out, get to the Hale Award ceremony.
    I would have liked to see the presentation and to hear the reading
    that went with it–but I had to lecture in Claremont, a
    very poor substitute. Congratulations, anyway. One more medal for the
    uniform, already sagging with decorations!

    Love to you and especially to woeful Jane,

    Wes

    Just got the contract (I’m sending a copy) from
    U/Missouri Press. Could you look it over and see if it’s OK?
    Sorry to be a pest, but I am at a loss about these things—

    Many thanks,

    Wes

    Oh–please send it back!


     

  • Hall to McNair: August 29, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, August 29, 1983, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    29 August 1983

    Wes McNair

    Dear Wes,

    The contract is OK. The royalty stinks – but not to worry.
    They’re just cutting their losses. I don’t think they should
    exempt the first five hundred from royalties…and I think they
    should pay ten per cent of retail…but giving you five hundred
    dollars pretty much makes up the difference! You probably will
    not see anything after that five hundred, but it does not matter –
    the book’s the thing. And copyright reverts to you after it goes
    out of print – the most important single item in the contract.
    (There have been occasions on which a publisher has published a
    book of poems, let it go out of print, and then retained ownership
    in the poems – so that when the poor poet wants to reprint the
    best of his poems for a Selected Poems, or for virtually ever in
    anthologies, the original rotten publisher keeps getting money for
    the poems! No problem here.)

    Jane is perceptibly-better. She can read a tiny bit of print
    now, for a short time. Very slow – but definitely in the right
    direction!

    OK, I will hold off on that poem until I get it from you again
    with others.

    Could you possibly drop me a note about the problems in the
    last act, at some point? But we look forward to seeing you also.
    But I don’t know when that will be!

    Love to you both as ever,

    Don


    A note from McNair about this letter: Though it has been lost, I wrote Don an extensive critique of the third act of Ragged Mountain Elegies, following his request in the last paragraph.

  • Hall to McNair: September 2, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, September 2, 1983, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    2 September 1983

    Wes McNair
    North Sutton
    NH

    Dear Wes,

    The poetry issue of the Argus Champion!
    It is lovely to see you getting a bit of
    attention…
    Delighted with your dear mentions of me, in
    this interview…

    Here is a copy, in case you would like
    it… If you do not need it, could you please
    return it to me? I have in mind to send it to
    a guy who writes articles for the New Hampshire
    Times, with the suggestion that he do a piece
    on you…but I send it to you first in case
    you would like to keep it. The other thing
    is pure speculation…

    Best as ever,

    Don


    Editorial note about this letter: The Argus Champion ran a front-page feature about McNair as the recipient of the Devins Award.

  • Hall to McNair: September 6, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, September 6, 1983, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    6 September 1983

    Wes McNair
    Box 43
    North Sutton, NH 03260

    Dear Wes,

    That is an extraordinarily helpful letter about the play…
    Later this week, I am going to dictate a whole bunch of notes –
    partly based on your letter, partly based on things I have
    been thinking about for the last twelve months… I won’t
    foreshadow what I say… I will be looking for more help on
    the play! But really, this was very very useful.

    It is totally unbelievable that the book will be ready
    in December! I cannot believe that…

    I have one thing to tell you that you will not [want to] hear:
    try terribly hard not to rush the second book! Absolutely
    everybody, and not only Wes McNair who has had to wait so damned
    long, tends to rush the second book. I did. Name me one poet
    who didn’t? Well, old Jane Kenyon is making it at least five
    years, probably six.. I don’t mean that you have to wait five years
    or possibly six… I do mean that you should not, please, shoot
    for April!

    I should say that I had the manuscript of a second book
    at Viking within twelve months of the time they published Exiles
    and Marriages… Then they persuaded me to wait – but I came
    out with The Dark Houses three years after Exiles…and it was
    too soon.

    We must fear depression; we must fear elation… My play
    was a tremendous high; my play was a tremendous low… There is
    no avoiding this, unless we stop being poets and writers…

    Thank you as ever for your good help.

    Love to you all,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: September 6, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, September 6, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    September 6, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Silly, perhaps, but I want you to know that the Argus
    article about Wesley McNair misquoted me in the section about
    the “major publishing house” (by which was meant Harper & Row).
    The article said the major publishing house dropped my book
    “from the publication schedule”, then “stopped doing books of poetry.”

    I said the book had been dropped before it was put on the
    publication schedule. Then (at some other point) I talked of other
    commercial houses that have stopped doing poetry.

    And there was other misinformation, less consequential.
    But this particular instance was serious enough, I thought,
    for at least a few words on this card to let you know I still
    remember how it really happened at H & R.

    –Wes


     

  • McNair to Hall: September 8, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, September 8, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    September 8, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Thank you for the advice about the second volume.
    “April” was mentioned in the interview because
    I thought (then) that the book (the present one)
    was coming out then. But I must not rush
    with book II, you are right, and I will
    certainly not send off a volume that you and
    Joey are not convinced of. Right now I figure
    I have 15 or so good poems, some culled from
    revisions of book I, some new…

    By the way, please tell Joey my submission
    to him this fall will be a late one. All
    my running this summer to get dollars for
    Sean’s college left me somewhat distracted,
    even though I kept a fairly regular writing
    schedule. Now, I’m preparing for the term

    2/

    at Colby–with some extra teaching to make ends meet.
    Still, I look forward to long mornings of writing,
    beginning next week.

    I am awfully glad my letter about your play
    was helpful. I do love the play. It is
    extraordinary with no revision at all! Best to Jane!

    Love,

    Wes

    P.S. I return the clipping, with thanks
    for your sending it. It’s now ready for
    the NH Times, the NY Times, Time,
    or whatever!


     

  • Hall to McNair: September 13, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, September 13, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    13 Sept. 1983

    Wes McNair

    Dear Wes,

    Thanks for the clip. I handle the public rela-
    tions, Joey just does sales. Joey says get the lead
    out.

    Best as ever,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: September 25, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, September 25, 1983, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    Sept 25, 1983

    Dear Don,

    When you can find a minute, will you please
    look these over?

    (Maybe) they will be part of the fall
    submission. Will that submission include
    “The Minister’s Death”, “When Paul Flew Away”,
    “My Brother in the Revolving Doors”, “The Before
    People”–too [+ Portuguese Dictionary]? And if so, do you need
    new copies of any or all?

    Have just sent proofed, pre-galleys
    manuscript to U/MO–am told sketches for
    the book cover will arrive this week, and
    galleys in 3 weeks. They say they will set
    a record with this one for the fastest book
    they’ve ever done!

    Best,

    Wes


    Editorial note about this letter: The poems McNair refers to in the first paragraph of this letter are “The Faith Healer,” “Remembering Aprons,” Ghosts,” and “The Last Time Shorty Towers Fetched the Cows.” Though the texts of the first two poems have appeared in earlier letters, this is the first mention of the latter two poems, each sent in a finished and publishable draft, except for an editor’s change in “The Last Time…” (see 2/16/1984), replacing the numerical designation for the hour in “5:00,” with the words “five o’clock.” Here are the texts of each poem as McNair sent them:

    The Last Time Shorty Towers Fetched the Cows

    In the only story we have
    of Shorty Towers, it is 5:00,
    and he is dead drunk on his roof
    deciding to fetch the cows. How
    he got in this condition, shingling
    all afternoon, is what the son-in-law,
    the one who made the back pasture
    into a golf course, can’t figure out. So,
    with an expression somewhere between shock
    and recognition, he just watches Shorty
    pull himself up to his not-so-
    full height, square his shoulders,
    and sigh that small sigh as if caught
    once again in an invisible swarm
    of bees. Let us imagine, in that moment
    just before he turns to the roof’s edge
    and the abrupt end of the joke
    which is all anyone thought to remember
    of his life, Shorty is listening
    to what seems to be the voice
    of a lost heifer, just breaking
    upward. And let us think that when he walks
    with such odd purpose down that hill
    jagged with shingles, he suddenly feels it
    open into the wide, incredibly green
    meadow where all the cows are.

    See also a selection of McNair’s manuscript notes and drafts for “Shorty Towers.”

    Read Ghosts (published version)

     

  • Hall to McNair: September 26,1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, September 26, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    26 Sept. 1983

    Wes McNair

    Dear Wes,

    I said I was going to write you a long letter
    about your letter about the play… Now I don’t
    think I will. Maybe we can talk about it. Jane
    is better…but she will not be all better for some
    time. It is still unpleasant to ride, but she can
    do most other things. Maybe we can get together.
    I am away all next week…then I’m home for a bit.

    Love as ever,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: September 28, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, September 28, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    September 28, 1983

    Dear Don (or Joey),

    Gerald Costanzo has asked me to send poems to the
    Three Rivers Poetry Journal, but I am reluctant because I’d
    rather try to publish in magazines with bigger names at
    this point. Perhaps I should wait and see which poems
    do not make it into those mags in the current cycle–
    then send some of the then unpublished verses to Costanzo.

    What do you think?

    Wes


     

  • Hall to McNair: September 28, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, September 28, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    28 Sept. 1983

    Wesley McNair

    Dear Wes,

    I think the new batch is great and Joey is
    ready to send them out if you are.

    The others will continue to go out. No new
    copies needed. I take it of course that none of
    them are in the manuscript about coming out. I
    also take it that you have handled the permissions
    business, and that none of them were forthcoming
    poems – I mean, in the new book. Amazing about the
    speed of the book.

    What about the Portuguese? Are there others?

    Best as ever,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: September 30, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, September 30, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    September 30, 1983

    Dear Don,

    I’m sorry to hear that Jane can’t ride comfortably.
    That leaves out plans for a dinner–for now, anyway.
    But yes, maybe we could get together sometime soon. I hope so.

    You ask whether you now have any poems that are
    forthcoming in the book. I assume you know that “After
    the Ice” is in the book, since I sent you a revised
    copy of the manuscript with that poem in the last section.
    None of the other poems you have is in the book. And yes,
    I have gotten permission to reprint all poems previously
    published.

    Just to make sure about which poems you should have,
    I offer the following list of titles which are not in the
    book, or in any magazine thus far: When Paul Flew Away;
    The Portuguese Dictionary (you ask, “What about The Portuguese?”–
    I meant this poem); My Brother Inside the Revolving
    Doors; The Before People; The Minister’s Death; The Faith
    Healer; Remembering Aprons; Killing the Animals; The Last
    Time Shorty Towers Fetched the Cows.

    I’m curious: Are there no reservations about

    2/

    The Faith Healer? I did revise it some after you wrote
    your misgivings about the poem this past summer. But
    I will remember the misgivings–

    Well. If there are none now, about this or
    any of the other poems, I’d love to have Joey
    send them out.

    Please give dear, ailing Jane a pat from us.

    Love to you both,

    Wes

    PS–Neurotically enough, I’m curious if I remembered
    to put an exclamation point after the word
    “inclusion” in the third-from-last stanza of
    Remembering Aprons. I note that I didn’t have one
    in the copy I typed for myself. Would you please check?


    Editorial note about this letter: Below is an anthology of the poems in for the “fall campaign” of 1983. 

    Read After the Ice (published version)

    Read When Paul Flew Away (published version)

    Read The Portuguese Dictionary (published version)

    Read My Brother Inside the Revolving Doors (published version)

    Read The Before People (published version)

    Read The Minister’s Death (published version)

    Read The Faith Healer (published version)

    Read Remembering Aprons (published version)

    Read Killing the Animals (published version)

    Read The Last Time Shorty Towers Fetched the Cows (published version)

  • Hall to McNair: September 30, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, September 30, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    30 Sept. 1983

    Wes McNair

    Dear Wes,

    I think that it would be a good idea to send
    Costanzo some poems – because it is not a bad maga-
    zine, because he has been your fan, because it might
    be helpful to have him in your corner, for the next
    book.

    The older poems that you mentioned are still out
    at various magazines. When they come back, why
    don’t I send them to you, for you to send to Constanzo?
    I think perhaps it
    would be better if you sent poems to him, rather than
    Joey. But be sure to keep everything straight with
    [typed on other side of postcard] old Joey… Joey will be in
    touch.

    Best wishes,

    Don


     

  • Hall to McNair: October 7, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, October 7, 1983, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    Wes McNair7

    October 1983
    Box 43
    North Sutton, NH 03260

    Dear Wes,

    Thanks for the letter. I dictate this on Sunday, October
    2nd, but will not be able to mail it for a week, because I leave
    early tomorrow morning and will be gone all week. Therefore the
    poems will not go out until next week – but that is just as well.
    The New Yorker is absolutely overwhelmed in the month of September…
    probably better to delay until mid-October. I generally do
    myself.

    I should say that I intend to send some poems to
    Costanzo, when I get a chance. It is not a bad magazine, of
    the second rank…and he has been such a good friend to poetry –
    not to mention us.

    Jane can ride comfortably as far as the Hideaway. Or
    her discomfort is not debilitating… But Boston – and a sub-
    sequent airplane ride – is out, for the moment.

    I did not recognize that “After the Ice”, still submitted
    to a magazine, was in the book coming out so soon. That is,
    I did not go through the Table of Contents, after the book was
    accepted, to see if anything was out. You can count on me not to,
    I suppose. You can also count on my not to remember things!
    I believe it is because of the multiplicity of details in my
    life – three to four thousand letters a year – rather than
    Alzheimer’s… I am much worse on the telephone. I always
    talk with people – about a reading, about a recommendation or
    something – and end by saying: please write me a letter and tell
    me what I just said. It is always wise to remind me of things, I
    am sorry to say. I do forget a lot.

    No sweat. I will write a note to the magazine that has
    “After the Ice,” and it will also serve to remind them that they
    have had some poems for a long time.

    You did put the exclamation point in, that you were asking
    about.

    I have a couple of minor reservations here and there…but
    I really like The Faith Here Healer, and I think I read it better now.
    I think my first reading was not terribly good.

    Best as ever,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: October 11, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, October 11, 1983, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    October 11, 1983

    Dear Don,

    I’m in the process of preparing my dossier with AWP for a
    job search, and I would like to have three or four up-to-date
    letters in my file. Would you be willing to update the letter you
    wrote for me three years ago? I would be happy to get AWP to send
    you the letter you wrote then, if you’d like.

    As I guess you know, things have gone from bad to worse at
    Colby-Sawyer. Enrollment is now at 405 “full-time equivalents”.
    The faculty has had no raise for two years, and while one is promised
    for later on this year, the extra money won’t go far–especially
    since we have begun this fall making “donations” (as the adminis-
    tration calls them) to our medical and dental benefits. Worst of
    all, I am forced to work more and more outside the college to pay
    my bills–thus, there’s less time for poetry.

    Not that the Devins Award–or any award–will get me a job in
    the current climate. But with one kid in college, and the other
    soon to be there, I must have job security, and a bigger salary–
    or lat least the opportunity, through a job in some state university
    system, to get my kids free tuition.

    I enclosed a stamped, addressed envelope, in the hope you will
    be able to use it for a recommendation letter, whenever you may
    have a moment to spare. Incidentally, I’ve just furnished U/
    Missouri with galley corrections. The thing is now in production,
    believe it or not, to be completed before the end of November.
    I can’t wait!

    Please pass on our very best to Jane.

    Love,

    Wes


     

  • Hall to McNair: October 14, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, October 14, 1983, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    14 October 1983

    Wesley McNair
    Box 43
    North Sutton, NH 03260

    Dear Wes,

    I think it would be best if I saw the old
    letter. Please get them to send it to me.
    Then I will bring it up to date and get it
    back to them right away.

    I think it might be best if I did not
    seem to contradict myself, which I might possibly
    do, according to the vagaries of the moment.
    I mean, simply by calling attention to one
    thing rather than another…

    I don’t actually know much about Colby-
    Sawyer. I think that Jack Jensen may have the
    blinders on, and of course Carl – whom I see
    from time to time – is retired.

    I am so frightened for you all! Awful.
    And of course it is not only awful for the
    future – it is pretty awful in the present.

    Sometimes I hear about jobs on the market.
    I know of nothing right now. I will not forget
    you – much as I would hate to think of you going
    to West Texas or anything… Love as ever,

    Don


     

  • Hall to McNair: October 24, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, October 24, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    24 Oct. 1983

    Wes McNair

    Dear Wes,

    I just dictated the new letter to AWP – having
    received a copy of the old on Saturday. If it
    looks OK when it gets typed up, I will mail it to-
    day
    . If it doesn’t, I will mail it Friday or Sat-
    urday.

    In the meantime, we look forward immensely
    to seeing you Friday night. Hooray for the celebra-
    tion.

    Love to you both,

    Don


     

  • Hall to McNair: November 2, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, November 2, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    2 November 1983

    Wes McNair
    Box 43
    North Sutton, NH

    Dear Wes,

    Maybe my praise of Ironwood is eccentric…
    but it is good, and Cuddihy is hard to satisfy.
    I’m delighted.

    There is a bunch of four poems which has
    been turned down by a lot of good places –
    other poems snatched away from their companion –
    ship. I wonder if you would be interested in
    letting Costanzo see them? I speak of The Minister’s
    Death, Thruway, My Brother Inside… The Before
    People…

    There is another bunch at the New Yorker
    right now of course.

    Of course there are other magazines –
    possibly more prestigious than Three Rivers…
    but, as you know, I think it might be a good
    notion.

    If you want to do it, just send your
    copies yourself in your own name directly to
    Gerry… Then, when he replies, if he does
    not take all of them, just let me know which
    ones are still available…

    2/

    But if you would rather Joey sent them out
    elsewhere, just say the word.

    Best as ever,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: November 4, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, November 4, 1983, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    November 4, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Thank you for the note–and again to
    Joey for the Ironwood.

    I will send the poems you mentioned
    to Jerry Costanzo–excepting, that is
    Thruway, which I’m currently disenchanted
    with.

    How do you like my paper? I didn’t think
    I ordered this short stationery, so had
    to re-order the long stuff. Soon, everyone
    will begin to imagine I am professional
    and thoroughly organized!

    Love to you and our
    afflicted friend, Jane,

    Wes


    Editorial note about this letter: The text of the poem mentioned in this letter, “Thruway,” is below:

    THRUWAY

    Giants come out of the horizon
    with spaces in their hands.
    Far off a bridge lifts
    it dinosaur back. The road
    shifts, opening a city.
    This is thruway, this is the great
    hum that holds our cars
    in the motionless center
    of motion. We are the drivers,
    each on his way, each
    going nowhere with others.

    A note from McNair about this letter: Though I eventually pulled this poem from circulation as too weak, I used its opening image of pylons coming out of the horizon years later for my long narrative, “My Brother Running.”

  • Hall to McNair: November 7, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, November 7, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    7 Nov. 1983

    Wesley McNair

    Dear Wes,

    Yes, I think that is terrific stationery. How
    do you like mine?

    Do let me know what happens with Jerry…and
    remember that I never remember anything!

    Best as ever,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: November 16, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, November 16, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    November 16, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Latest on the book is it will be ready at the bindery by
    November 28–then will be shipped to Harper & Row for distribution.
    The damn cover will be blue! I do hope they know what they’re doing!
    Got a letter today from the Missouri English department which contains
    the happy news that they are impressed–very impressed, they say–with
    my resume and want to consider me for interviewing. That’s the good
    news news–this even before seeing my dossier. The bad news is that
    the job may not get funded.

    I may have more news about the job hunt when we arrive
    at your house next week. We look forward mightily to that boiled
    dinner! (So does Lilly, whom I talked to last night.) See you then!

    Love,

    Wes


    A note from McNair about this letter: Lily is Lily Heinburg. She and her husband Wolf, will join Diane and me as guests for dinner with Don and Jane.

  • McNair to Hall: November 25, 1983 (1)

    Letter from McNair to Hall, November 25, 1983, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    November 25, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Thank you for the dinner. It was knockout,
    especially that corned beef, cut thick as
    pork chops!

    I woke up the next day thinking I’d been a
    bit hard on old Colby-Sawyer. It’s not the college’s
    fault, after all, if that article in US News has
    its share of hype. I too hope things work out for
    the place. And I hope for various reasons I won’t
    be there soon.

    You are both great to ask me over with the
    book. Probably it will come on Tuesday, but I
    will call before I come.

    Love,

    Wes


    A note from McNair about this letter:  The US News and World Report article ranked Colby-Sawyer among the top colleges of its class in the Northeast. Thus, the mention of “hype.”

  • McNair to Hall: November 25, 1983 (2)

    Letter from McNair to Hall, November 25, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    November 25, 1983

    Dear Don,

    This is about a couple of things I got
    in the mail upon delivering my other letter
    for you.

    First: Jerry Costanzo wants the three
    poems–“The Minister’s Death”, “The Before
    People” and “My Brother Inside the Revolving
    Doors”–for the next issue of Three Rivers
    Poetry Journal
    . He wants to italicize the
    word “Before” in the title of the second poem
    listed above. I don’t like the idea much. What
    do you think?

    The second thing: U/Missouri Press is asking

    2/

    for names and addresses of (1) magazines,
    and (2) “reviewers or persons in your field”
    who might receive review copies of my book.
    If you have time in the next three or four
    days before I come over, would you think
    about possibilities in the above areas?
    Wes

    P.S. Costanzo’s poets for the CMU series
    in 1984 are Dunn, Ochester, Wallace,
    Meek and Wier. That seems respectable.
    It suddenly occurs to me that Jane might
    submit there. Has she thought of that?


     

  • Hall to McNair: November 28, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, November 28, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    28 November 1983

    Wes McNair
    Box 43
    North Sutton, NH

    Dear Wes,

    Like all poets, you are too modest! We found out in the
    paper that you are reading Wednesday night, December 6th…
    Well, you did allude to it, in connection with selling books –
    but I didn’t really get it. I will be in Oberlin that night.
    Jane is coming back that day from Boston, having read the night
    before at the Blacksmith… I don’t know whether she will get there
    either. I am sorry to miss it.

    It was so good to see you here the other day.

    Best as ever, heaven knows, to both of you from both of us,

    P.S. Got your two notes, before this went out…

    Corned beef as thick as pork chops…what a good title!

    You are unhappy about Colby-Sawyer…and I think you have
    every reason to be…but we do want the place to survive, selfishly
    I suppose… We also want you to stay around here – but that is
    pure selfishness! I can manage, with a small and disinterested
    part of my soul, to wish you a good job elsewhere… You and I
    are good correspondents anyway, so if you are in Missouri or
    San Diego, we will Stay in Touch, like they say…

    We do Look for the Book… I don’t depart until Sunday,
    December 3rd, and I am back Wednesday night December 7th…

    I’m delighted that Jerry wants those three poems! Excellent…
    It sure does mean that his interest remains keen! Yes, I think
    his list is good also. Jane doesn’t want to try to him, I think,
    because of his connection with me. But I will bring it up…
    I don’t think she will try there.

    If it were me, I would allow him to italicize the word “before”
    in the title, and then when I saw it in the magazine, I would think
    about whether I liked it or not…You can always change it when
    you do your book.

    I am going into some italics in the Sewanee Review, with
    a poem, which I think I will leave off in the book… At the
    suggestion of the editor, whose interest I am pleased to have…
    But I have told him that I am skeptical, and that I will probably

    2/

    go back to Roman when I reprint them in a book… In the meantime,
    I will have a chance to see what they look like. I don’t understand
    what he is up to. The title gives you a turn. I don’t mean that.
    I mean it takes you a while to figure out what it means, and the
    italics will probably make it easier…The question is whether
    you want it to be easy or not!

    Copies. I would make sure that copies go to John Frederick
    Nims at Poetry, as well as a copy to the magazine Poetry for
    their reviewer…and to Peter Davidson at the Atlantic…one copy
    will do, but it ought to be addressed to him personally.

    I think that one ought to go to the Argus Champion and
    another to the Concord Monitor, with notes drawing newspaper’s
    attention to your Local Residence…

    I think it is worthwhile to send one to Robert Taylor at
    the Boston Globe, with a similar note… Probably nothing will
    happen, but why not try?

    Because I am a reviewer, you can get them to send me one –
    and I will get an extra free copy!

    Make sure that one is sent to Helen Vendler, although it
    is doubtless not going to do anything. But you might as well
    enter the lottery!

    Definitely send one to Peter Stitt at Dept. of English/
    University of Houston/Houston, TX…and get Missouri to say
    that this is sent with the author’s compliments, at the suggestion
    of Donald Hall. (If you don’t mind.) Peter will take notice.
    He reviews every quarter in the Georgia Review… Otherwise…
    they will doubtless send out to all the major review outlets
    Who else? I cannot think in particular… If I think of more
    I will tell you when you come over.

    Love as ever, to both of you,

    Don


     

  • McNair to Hall: November 30, 1983

    Letter from McNair to Hall, November 30, 1983, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    November 30, 1983

    Dear Don,

    It turns out, because of a
    foul-up, that I won’t be getting
    books until Friday.

    I will call ahead!

    Love,

    Wes


    A note from McNair about this letter:  “I will call ahead”: Don’s was the one complimentary copy of my new collection that I wanted to hand-deliver.

  • McNair to Hall: December 19, 1983 (1)

    Letter from McNair to Hall, December 19, 1983, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    December 19, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Seeing you on Saturday should not have been a
    surprise to me, given all your past support.
    Still, I was surprised, and gratified you came.
    It was splendid of you to think of doing so.

    I sold, I think, 16 books. Then, taking my
    books (along with the elderberry jam) to the
    Saturday class at NHC, I sold 15 more.
    (The students asked me to bring them.) There are
    now books at Vernondale’s store–the
    “demonstrater” open to p. 53, about the store,
    among other things. And there are books at the
    Concord stores–as well as the K. Bookshelf, of course.

    About the job at U/MO: the time has now
    passed for their arranging of interviews. Maybe
    the job never got funded–there was some
    question about that. Or maybe I got caught
    in the struggle between the Press and the English
    department. It’s not a serious struggle–but,
    as I got it, there is some feeling among
    department members that they should run the Devins

    2/

    contest and the Breakthrough series, now handled
    by the Press and the poet/judge chosen for the
    particular year.

    Speaking of that reminds me to tell you not
    to be surprised if someone contacts you about
    being the next judge. They were quite interested
    in you when I suggested your name (I hope
    you don’t mind). The fee is $2500. I have
    one last bit of lobbying to do in a follow-up
    letter to Ed King about my story and other
    things. So if you have any objections, please
    let me know.

    Hope all is well with you and Jane–
    and that the recent cold snap has not
    irritated Joey’s condition.

    Love,

    Wes


    A note from McNair about this letter: The opening sentence refers to Don’s visit at the Kearsarge Bookshelf in New London during my book-signing…. Vernonale’s store is the general store in my town of North Sutton.

  • McNair to Hall: December 19, 1983 (2)

    Letter from McNair to Hall, December 19, 1983, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

    [Click image to view]

    December 19, 1983

    Dear Don,

    Inspired by “a recent letter from Donald Hall,”
    Robert Richman has sent me two sample issues
    of The New Criterion and asked me to send him
    poems to consider for publication. Once again, I
    am grateful for your help. And, of course, I’m
    excited.

    Does Joey happen to have any of my poems on
    hand? Or if he doesn’t, what should I write
    about when?

    I await your advice. In the meantime,
    thank you.

    Love,

    Wes


     

  • Hall to McNair: December 28, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, December 28, 1983, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    28 December 1983

    Wes McNair
    Hominy Pot Rd.
    North Sutton, NH 03260

    Dear Wes,

    Good to hear from you. And it was lovely to see you at
    Carlton’s. I do bore you worry about Carlton – he looks bad, and
    he seems to be taking this move hard.

    Jane has sold five poems in the last week! One to
    Seneca, two to APR, and two to Poetry. What a lady to live
    with! I did sell one to The New Yorker though. A longish
    one.

    Very good, selling sixteen books. That is better than
    par. You are marketing them well! A+ in marketing! Too bad
    about the job…but you have to try for two hundred in order
    to get one… It is sort of like publishing a book!

    I would be delighted to be contacted about being
    an ex-judge at the Devins. $2500 is a lot or a little depending
    upon how many manuscripts they want you to read. After judging
    for the NEA last summer, I am not in the mood to read very many…
    We will see.

    I dictate this just before going out to Ann Arbor, and
    will not mail it until I get back …in case this seems out of
    date.

    Love as ever,

    Don


    A note from McNair about this letter: Carlton, the owner of the bookstore where I signed my book, was about to move to a new store space in New London.

  • Hall to McNair: December 29, 1983

    Letter from Hall to McNair, December 29, 1983, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

    [Click image to view]

    29 Dec. 1983

    Wes McNair

    Dear Wes,

    Yes, I keep throwing out these little fire-
    crackers…and some of them do go off! Of course
    this one has only partly gone off so far. I think
    it will be a good place to print, and they pay
    fairly well. But we will see. I have consulted
    Mr. Amaryllis, who claims that there is nothing
    available at the moment, but when something is
    available, it goes to Bobby the Rich…

    And I came home yesterday from Michigan to find
    that they had taken all two of my poems, which will
    be out in the April edition, which will be the first
    issue with poetry, and they wrote a most flattering
    letter. I like that sort of thing.

    I think you ought to write Robert Richman
    and tell him that you are delighted, and that he will
    receive poems, but that they will be sent to him
    by a friend of yours named Joseph Amaryllis who sends

    2/

    out your poems.

    Love as ever,

    Don


    A note from McNair about this letter: As this section concludes, both of us have prospects for publication with magazines — and Jane does, too — mine resulting from one more firecracker set off by Donald Hall.