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|29 August 1979
North Sutton, NH 03260
Good to have your letter. These are good poems. I have a couple
of questions. I guess I cannot quite see how they grow o’s. I can
see them growing over or under. I guess I can see one branch going over,
and another under, which do not touch but visually cross each other…
but an o seems too symmetrical, possibly? I love the cadence and
feeling of this poem, and then I am a bit disturbed by finding it
visually not exactly perceptible.
Again, I like the language of Driving Poem very very much – but
I am troubled by the syntax, wanting it to be a sentence and finding
no way to turn it into a sentence. Do I take it that the “room” is
the driver’s seat of the car? Or perhaps more accurately the car itself?
I might wonder about having a first line like: “This is the room…”
Joey would always like to have more poems to send out, if you
feel like it letting him.
I do have considerable hope that you will find your GM – or that
some decent GM will find you. And in fact, I have good hope for Harper
and Row. It does not mean any more than it says, but it is a fact
that Fran McCullough likes the manuscript very much. She wants to look
at it some more, and confirm herself in her feelings – and I don’t think
this is a sinister doubt. But the problem is elsewhere. It takes her
a long time, and a good deal of effort, to get a book of poems accepted
by the powers that be. The poetry-schedule is full up for a while.
She cannot even bring the subject up, to the powers that be, for a while.
And when she does, if she does decide to push your book as I hope and
mostly believe she will, the powers that be may not take to it,
or may feel that they cannot take on another books of poems at that time.
Therefore, you are to be pleased that she likes her work, you are to be
hopeful but not too hopeful, and you are to sit tight! OK?
None of which should deter you from going right ahead with revising
your manuscript and so forth. About the “dirty” poems, I too feel
ambivalent. I am not sure that they belong there – but I am not certain
that they don’t, either. Make your decision against them this time.
Be prepared, possibly for some argument on another occasion.
Best as ever,