FROM MANUSCRIPT TO BOOK:
A Map of Wesley McNair’s Journey
in Revision

At the same time Wesley McNair was revising the individual poems he chose for his book (see revision links in the text of The Unfastening), he was revising the book itself. This diagram, which includes three book manuscripts selected from a longer series, follows the process of that revision. The contents of each manuscript are in chronological order, and the entry at the far left shows how The Unfastening began. Subsequent entries reveal how individual poems were deleted, repositioned and added (11 new poems and a new section) as McNair developed the themes of his book. The fourth entry provides the definitive poem list as seen in the proofs for the book, sent to McNair by his publisher, David R. Godine. By drawing your cursor over poem titles, you can follow the changes that took place during an intense revision period that lasted just over a year.

Once you have explored the poems of The Unfastening, return to this page and take some time to answer the Guiding Questions, which link the map to McNair’s intentions as he developed the themes of his book.

Manuscript One

August-September, 2015

Title: The Longing to See
  1. The Unfastening
    1. The Button
    2. Nursing Home Haikus
    3. The Afterlife
    4. When They Lay Down
    5. I Praise My Mother, the House Lover, at Last
    6. The Unfastening
  2. The Longing to See
    1. The Fun of Running Back and Forth
    2. My Brother's Paper Route
    3. Delight
    4. The Human Creature
    5. Is It Begging, This?
    6. Russell in the Road
    7. This Poem
    8. The Laugh
    9. The Restorer
    10. The Longing To See
  3. Maintaining
    1. The Master of Loss
    2. Losses
    3. The Rhubarb Route
    4. Imperfection
    5. Love
    6. What I Remember
    7. Getting Lost
    8. Telephone Poles
    9. Maintaining
    10. Townies
    11. Love
    12. Maintaining
    13. The Birthday Party
    14. The Holdout

Manuscript Two

January-February, 2016

Title: The Unfastening
  1. The Unfastening
    1. The Button
    2. My Mother's Penmanship Lessons
    3. Nursing Home Haikus
    4. When They Lay Down
    5. I Praise My Mother, the House Lover, at Last
    6. Clem's Stroke
    7. The Unfastening
  2. The Master of Loss
    1. The Fun of Running Back and Forth
    2. My Brother's Paper Route
    3. Delight
    4. The Human Creature
    5. Is It Begging - This?
    6. Russell in the Road
    7. The Rhubarb Route
    8. This Poem
    9. Kay
    10. The Master of Loss
  3. The Longing to See
    1. My Stepfather's Cars
    2. Old Poets
    3. The Restorer
    4. Stephen Ash's Invitation
    5. My Mother's Harvest Centerpiece
    6. The Longing To See
  4. Maintaining
    1. Losses
    2. Imperfection
    3. Love
    4. Kids
    5. What I Remember
    6. Getting Lost
    7. The Revolution
    8. Maintaining
    9. Telephone Poles
    10. The Birthday Party

Manuscript Three

December 3, 2016

Title: The Unfastening
  1. The Unfastening
    1. The Button
    2. My Mother's Penmanship Lessons
    3. Nursing Home Haikus
    4. When They Lay Down
    5. I Praise My Mother, the House Lover, at Last
    6. Clem's Stroke
    7. The Unfastening
  2. The Master of Loss
    1. The Fun of Running Back and Forth
    2. My Brother's Paper Route
    3. Delight
    4. The Human Creature
    5. Run-on Haiku
      (Temp, title for "Is It Begging – This?")
    6. Russell in the Road
    7. The Rhubarb Route
    8. This Poem
    9. Kay
    10. The Master of Loss
  3. The Longing to See
    1. My Stepfather's Cars
    2. Old Poets
    3. Stephen Ash's Invitation
    4. My Mother's Harvest Centerpiece
    5. The Longing To See
    6. The Poem
  4. Maintaining
    1. Losses
    2. Imperfection
    3. Love
    4. What I Remember
    5. Getting Lost
    6. The Revolution
    7. Maintaining
    8. Telephone Poles
    9. The Birthday Party
    10. Hymn
    11. Benediction

First Publisher's Proofs

March 1, 2017

Title: The Unfastening
  1. The Unfastening
    1. The Button
    2. My Mother's Penmanship Lessons
    3. Nursing Home Haikus
    4. The Afterlife
    5. When They Lay Down
    6. I Praise My Mother, the House Lover, at Last
    7. Clem's Stroke
    8. The Unfastening
  2. The Master of Loss
    1. The Fun of Running Back and Forth
    2. My Brother's Paper Route
    3. Delight
    4. The Human Creature
    5. Is It Begging - This?
    6. Russell in the Road
    7. The Rhubarb Route
    8. This Poem
    9. Kay
    10. The Master of Loss
  3. The Longing to See
    1. My Stepfather's Cars
    2. Old Poets
    3. Stephen Ash's Invitation
    4. My Mother's Harvest Centerpiece
    5. The Longing To See
    6. The Poem
  4. Maintaining
    1. Losses
    2. Imperfection
    3. Love
    4. What I Remember
    5. Getting Lost
    6. The Revolution
    7. Maintaining
    8. Telephone Poles
    9. The Birthday Party
    10. Praise Song
      (New title for "Hymn")
    11. Benediction