McNair to Hall, August 24, 1984

Letter from McNair to Hall, August 24, 1984, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

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August 24, 1984

Dear Don,

Before I lose them, I want to get to your questions.

First, the one about “Felix.” I was troubled by the
“twenty–five-years-old forever” because I expected
the narrator to recall Felix as a young man before
the accident. I expected that Felix because I was
stuck in the earlier sentence which seemed to set
up the recollection: “thirty years passed and I was
a young man driving / … with Felix.”

True, you go on in the passage afterward to
speak about what happened after the driving,
but that whole passage is predicated by the
subjunctive “would.” So when you go to the
next sentence, “For a moment Felix sits beside me
again,” I think of driving again, and the
pre-accident Felix.

Now that I reread these parts, I go back
to being troubled by “twenty-five-years-old
forever.” Am I worried by the repetition of “Thirty
years”? What bothered me about the phrase is
that I half want Felix to be a different Felix –
not the undead one, but the living one.


The other question was about printing the
metrical poems under Joey’s name. I’m
not sure why you should be reluctant to
sell the poems as Donald Hall, since I’ve
begun to see a fair amount of formal verse
around, particularly in Poetry. Your misgivings
may stem from being seen as a literary conservative
a long time ago- – and so now will be thought of
as a poet who has all along wished free verse
would go away. My own sense is that you’ve
written some exceptional free verse, and that
by now you should be able to write any damn
thing you please. Who knows but that printing
these poems under you own name, you’d
become known as the pioneer of the new poetry?
Why give such distinction to Joey?

Good luck with the revision – and the selling.