|February 8, 1983
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
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!
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!
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