Hall to McNair, June 11, 1984

Letter from Hall to McNair, June 11, 1984, Page 1, Colby College Special Collections

[Click image to view]

11 June 1984

Wes McNair
Box 43
North Sutton, NH 03260

Dear Wes,

Good to talk with you. And I like “Seeing Cooch.” I have a
couple of questions, about possible ambiguities. He will be out on
his porch, “lifting/ a tire or something/ without a door.” It seems
to say that he would be “lifting something without a door.” What, which
lacks a door, would he be lifting? If I sound dumb, it is genuine. I
think of “something without a door” as if it were a car rotting in the
front yard, a doorless car – but then he wouldn’t be lifting that. And
I don’t know what sort of object, lacking a door, that he would be lifting…
But I don’t really understand what it is that he is doing. Then the next
“sentence” isn’t a sentence. And it seems to me not exactly connected.
Or it seems to me that the things beginning “ or some night/ in a room/
beyond his/…”; that it depends on “you see” many many lines earlier.
How does “or” follow “without a door”?

Other little things. First I had trouble connecting “it,” and then
I decided that it was probably my fault. Then I wondered if you really
needed “nobody/ wants.” What sort of thing is a loaf of bread that nobody
wants? I love it described as a great loaf of bread…but when you say that
this is that kind of loaf of bread (the kind we all know) that nobody wants…
maybe you complicate it a little more than you need to? It remains visual,
if it is wrapped like a big loaf of bread…but if it is wrapped like a
big loaf of bread…the kind that nobody wants…it goes beyond the visual
to something else that may confuse the visual.

I love almost everything that is here – I guess except “without a door”…
and I love the end of it. But maybe it is too elliptical right now?

Another question. If you find it finished now, or if it is finished
in the next draft, do you want it to go out this summer? Or do you want
to wait to try The New Yorker in the fall? Poetry is shut down all summer
also. At least it usually is, and I believe that it will be now also.

Also, could you send me another copy of The Shooting? It is in
the house some place, but I cannot find it. It came back from The New Yorker.

P.S. The McNair who taught at Tilton School was called Luther, as I
understand. So I guess it is another one – but that is quite a coincidence,
another Communist.

Joey would be happy to send these two poems to Robert Wallace – though
Joey himself doesn’t really think that they are light. But that is not up to
Joey, but to Robert Wallace. However, are you assured that “When Paul Flew
Away” will come out in Ironwood before the new Light Year will be
published? Ironwood would not be amused, to have publication anticipated
by the anthology. Probably you have ascertained this – but reassure me,

Love as ever,


A note from McNair about this letter: After Don’s critique of “Seeing Cooch,” responding to a draft that no longer exists, I revised my poem for the last time. The poem’s final version, below, bears hints of Don’s earlier suggestions.

Read Seeing Cooch (published version)