McNair to Hall: January 16, 1984

Letter from McNair to Hall, January 16, 1984, Page 1, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

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January 16, 1984

Dear Don,

Sometime when it’s convenient, would you please
look the enclosed over?

The interview with Begiebing (did I tell you?)
has come and gone. The results should appear
at the end of this month of the beginning of
next. I await, cringing.

He told me he has decided to open the thing
with the story I told him about how I got
acquainted with you, and how you got to
know “my work.” There were many questions
about that, I guess because of the Rayno
article. I only wish I had thought to
speak about Jane in connection with our
first meeting. But I didn’t think, and
probably that is only one of my oversights.
So, as I say, I cringe.


Got a rejection from U/Maryland today. I
imagine everyone wanted to go there. Missouri
and Denison also rejected me. Writing things
like “Jack Cooch”, I am not entirely sure why
I want to move. Mixed feelings!

While I’m on the subject of rejection: sent
to the Poetry Society of America an application
for the Alice Fay diCastagnola award ($2,000
for work-in progress). Given the line requirement,
all I could send (with appropriate rationale)
were two poems: “Mute” and “When Paul Flew Away.”
Have also asked Missouri to enter my book in
the Melville Cane and Great Lakes competition
for a first book. I am not holding my breath.

I appreciate your comment that I do
you a favor by being here, and writing what
I write. The favor you return, tenfold! Best
to you, Jane and the writing both of you
may be attempting!

& love,


Jack Cooch, superintendant
of the town dump,
has wrapped his house
in plastic, a sure sign
of winter. It sits

by the ramp to 89
like a great loaf
of bread nobody wants.

Outside on the porch
a mound of seatlessness,
drawerlessness, and other
kinds of imperfection,
picked with Jack’s own eye
for the perfectly good.

Some winter days
driving toward Concord,
you find him under that roof
past saving, rummaging
with a toothless
surmise. Some nights

you see him in a room
beyond the blowing plastic
of his windows, moving
in the afterlife
of discarded things.

–Wesley McNair

Editorial about this letter:  Begiebing is Robert Begiebing, a professor at New Hampshire College (now Southern New Hampshire University) who interviewed me at Don’s suggestion for The New Hampshire Times…. The Rayno article was written by Garry Rayno for The Argus Champion concerning my Devins Award…. The “rejections” of paragraph four are related to my job search.