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|September 24, 1984
Thanks for your letter. I’m glad you made
a submission to the New Yorker. I was about to send
copies of Seeing Cooch, What It Is, The Name, and
The Shooting. Should I now assume you have copies
of all? I do like your pattern of sending to the
New Yorker, then to The Atlantic, then to Poetry –
at least I think that’s the pattern – isn’t it? And
it’s so nice not to have to worry about rejections,
since I never see them!
As for the poem about Perley Hunt, I’ve wanted
almost from the beginning to make a prose poem
out of it – and this is what you’ve given me
the courage finally to do. I do like the rough,
unpolished language in it, the way it becomes
slack and suddenly taut. Maybe the prose
poem offered all along the only way to convey
this feeling. I hope so. Please let me know
what you think!
In the meantime, I thank you for
the kind hopes you’ve expressed about teaching
at Dartmouth and writing time in between.
I will keep you posted about both as soon as
my schedule jells – and of course I’ll let
you know about job prospects.
Editorial note about this letter: Here is the revision of “Perley Hunt Walking” McNair enclosed:
PERLEY HUNT WALKING
Perley Hunt is off balance. Each day the part of him
that is no longer afraid to fall and the part of him that
is argue all the way to the mail. People who come out
of the post office see him walking, by almost falling
down on one side and on the other, holding aloft the
bony wing of his cane, and in this moment not one
thinks of his bad luck, or of the lucky life he might
have had. None thinks of any life beyond these hands
slowly passing the cane back and forth, this miracle
of walking on the undulant earth.