McNair to Hall: April 8, 1980


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April 8, 1980

Dear Don,

You asked in your recent note whether I
had sent poems to Houghton Mifflin. The answer
is yes. I mailed five poems to the readers
for the “New Poetry Series,” to no avail.
I did not mention your name (as you earlier
said I might) because that seemed inappropriate
in an open competition: Perhaps I chose the
wrong five poems…I can always
rationalize that way.

More bad news yesterday. I got my rejection
from the National Poetry Series. At the
bottom of their form letter was a note
(unsigned) informing me that I had sent
“good work.” I don’t feel much heartened
by that, but I suppose it’s better than nothing.

I do appreciate your continuing faith
in the publish-ability of the book. You
lift my spirits every time I’m down about


its fate! In spite of your wise
injunction to “expect nothing,” I am now
hoping for a good word from the Pitt Poetry
Series. You will remember that Ed Ochester
asked me to resubmit my manuscript
there this year, having turned it down last
year. I should hear by June.

I am enormously pleased that you like
“The Fat Enter Heaven” and that Jane
likes it. I have been working on a longer
“fat poem” for some time now, and on
other poems, but I am so slow I almost
lose patience with myself.

Next week I go to Detroit to lecture
on Winslow Homer at the joint meeting of the
Popular Culture and American Culture Associations.
That will perhaps provide the brief respite I
need to jar some poems loose!

Love to you and Jane,


A note from McNair about this letter: The “longer fat poem” I’m working on when I write this letter is “The Fat People of the Old Days.”