Hall to McNair: July 8, 1980


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8 July 1980

Wes McNair
Box 43
N. Sutton, NH 03260

Dear Wes,

These feeling [sic] simply do not end! Believe me I am
sympathetic with your feelings, but let me tell you that
when you have published a book – which you will – nothing
will happen
; or at least it will seem that nothing has
happened. And this would be true whether it were published
by New Rivers or Atheneum. Even if something happens, then
you realize that the “something” is truly nothing. And
after you have published eight books of poems, you are still
convinced that no one has read you, and that probably you
are no good anyway. Or at least you are convinced of that
frequently. I have been going through quite a bad patch,
in my feelings about my own ability, my past work, and cer-
tainly my present work.

There is only one place, or one moment, in which one
finds happiness, and it is always momentary – because that
is the moment of actual writing, and of course that is not
always true.

So I do two things: I assure you that you will publish;
and I tell you that it will not make any difference! But I
do have a third thing to say: it makes a difference to me!

In connection with your own book, I am pursing two
distant notions, neither of which is worth talking about
at the moment.

I wish I could tell you the names of people at Viking,
Doubleday, and Knopf to write to. I don’t think it is
useful to send them a manuscript. You might write a letter,
tell them where you have printed, about the NEA – and ask
them if they would care to see a manuscript. Most publishers
do not read manuscripts that come over the transom any more.
Harper & Row used to, when Fran was there – and now it has

I think that the University of Georgia with Zimmer is
a good idea, and why not Illinois, Princeton, and Carnegie-

At the University of Illinois Press, please address
the book to Lawrence Liebermann, and tell him that I asked
you to send it to him. [Written in margin: check spelling!]

I’ll be happy to talk with you about which poems to
send Houghton Mifflin, when the time comes.


If you are happy with the writing that you are doing
now – as you mentioned – you are as happy as a poet can

Fine to see small batches of poems. You won’t hear
much from Joey for the nonce, because summer is a bad time
for submitting things, and a slow time for hearing about

Best as ever, and just keep to the bench, as the
scientists say,