Hall to McNair: October 6, 1980


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6 October 1980

Wes McNair
Box 43
N. Sutton, NH 03260

Dear Wes,

I don’t think I like it quite so much. Something willful
about it, I think, maybe in the abstraction. Yet I like the
middle of it a lot. I don’t really believe the metaphor of
“the name/ given to air/ we shape…” I like the father with
son, with sisters and brothers… the middle part there. Then
on the second page I don’t really follow it when it gets to be
“rounder…” Then I think that the ending is pretty and invisible,
with the metaphor of “trace.”

So I am fairly negative, I suppose – yet I should say:
without perfect confidence in my negativity, the way I usually

Joey keeps busy, but editors are slow as molasses.

Love as ever,


A note from McNair about this letter: I quickly abandoned “Waving Goodbye,” the poem in question here, but it returned many years later, less abstract in its conception, fastened down by human experience. The final version of “Waving Goodbye, published in my 1998 collection Talking in the Dark, appears below. Sometimes the creative cycle a poem requires is long, and “Waving Goodbye” took nearly as long as “The Retarded Children Play Baseball” to think through. So this section of letters ends with a kind of promise to my future development as a poet.

Read Waving Goodbye (published version)

See also a selection of McNair’s manuscript notes and drafts for “Waving Goodbye.”