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Letters Between Poets


Wesley McNair
Donald Hall

The Letters Between Poets Project centers on an exchange of letters between Wesley McNair and an important mentor, the poet Donald Hall, during McNair’s early struggle as a poet.

The site includes correspondence between the two poets from 1976, when McNair first met Hall, to 1984, just after the publication of McNair’s first book.

The letters reveal conversations about poems in progress, discouragement in the face of rejection by editors,  the effort to find time for creative work despite the chaotic demands of life, and the necessity above all else of making poems.

Eventually, as Hall shares his own struggle as a poet and turns to McNair for advice about his poems in formation, what began as a correspondence between a student and mentor moves toward an exchange between friends and peers.

The primary goal of this project is educational, revealing to students, teachers, and the general public what it’s like to develop as a poet with the guidance of a mentor, as well as related issues, such as: how poets think about their craft, how they make poems and revise them, and how they bring their creative work to readers, with the hope that the site will also offer encouragement and guidance to aspiring poets and other beginning writers trying to find their way.

Step 1: View the short video, “How To Use This Site”


A collaboration between Colby College Special Collections – Waterville, Maine, & Milne Special Collections – University of New Hampshire.

With generous support from USA (United States Artists).

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