Hall to McNair: December 1, 1981


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1 December 1981

Wes McNair
North Sutton, NH 03260

Dear Wes,

I love the book in its gross state, and think it is a
great improvement, far more improvement than it ought to be.
I love the feel of it, and really think it makes a quantum
leap. I also like the three new poems, and they are already

Yes, it was lovely to see you two – and Lily and Wolf also.
And it would be good to see you more often. We are very laggard
this way, both of us inclined to go to bed at about the time we
would be having people over. But when we do see people – I mean
a few people! – we love it.

You are absolutely right about the energy and the vulgarity
of country-western, and this is something wonderful in your work,
and generally it is the best part of your work. Yes, and do not
forget “Drop kick me, Jesus, through the goal-posts of life/ ,
end over end, neither to the left nor the right.”

Iowa was a lot of fun. I saw quite a bit of Don Justice,
whom I admire. Also there was Hank Coulette, and Larry Levis
and Marcia Southwick… And the Justices had a lunch
party for me, and two other people had dinner parties for me,
and somebody else had a big party after the reading. I felt
feted…and I feel even better to be home.

Unfortunately my piece about Kevin McHale seems to be
doomed. Inside Sports is folding. I feel about fifty-two per
cent disappointed, because I had looked forward to writing it;
and forty-eight percent relieved, because I can do something
else instead.

Best as ever,


A note from McNair about this letter: “Wolf and Lily” were local restaurateurs and mutual friends who swelled our dinner company in North Sutton to six….The three poems referred to in this letter are “A Dream of Herman,” “Mina Bell’s Cows,” and “Small Towns are Passing.” So Section IV concludes with one more generous letter from Don, thanking me for a visit; complimenting me about the poetry collection I will once more send out to editors; and  submitting new McNair poems in the guise of Joseph Amaryllis. Less noticeable, but also helpful, is his last paragraph, with its model of cheerfulness in the face of writerly disappointment.