McNair to Hall: January 4, 1977


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January 4, 1976 [misdated: should be 1977]

Dear Don and Jane,

I have read the poems which I took with me after my last visit,
and I like them very much. Their language and form are so natural–
accessible and profound all at once. “Names of Horses”: the title
is wonderful, as is the subject of the poem. Its long, hymn-like
lines are most appealing, also its sad music. I especially like
the last line–knockout, the way those “names”work [sic]. “Kicking the
Leaves”: again that conversational speaker who is all the time
forming a poem. The gesture at the center of the poem is (becomes)
beautifully complex. The very best poems in the group are,
to my mind, “The Black Faced Sheep” (beautiful in its composition
alone) and “Flies”. But then, it’s an awfully strong group. Honestly,
these are some of the best poems I’ve read in a long time.

Jane, you mentioned that I should send along poems for
Green House. I am sending two, neither of which should be used
until I receive word one way or the other from magazines to which
they’ve been sent. The “Rufus Porter” poem has been sent to San Hose
, and the “Elinore Quelch” piece, which you may remember
from my book, has been sent to The American Poetry Review. I have
others, but they are either about to be published or unfinished.
No doubt at least one of the above mentioned will bounce. Please let
me know what you think of them (I enclose “E.Q.”, in the event you
need to review it); I’ll let you know as soon as I hear from
the mags above.

Don, you have me thinking about a “book-book”. Counting up
poems, I figure I have around 40 pages of text at this point,
and I feel that I might well have the thing written within the next
one or two years. It would be a book of reminiscences, like The Faces
of Americans
, only more varied. My search through available stuff
has resulted in a find of four poems not included in The Faces.

You both may not realize that the confidence you expressed
in my poems last week saved my life. With scarcely anyone to talk to about
my writing, I had become consumed with self-doubt. Now, once again,
I believe….

Thanks so much for your kind words.



PS- My typist made a handful of typing errors
which changed certain poems in that book
for the worse– I will soon send you a revised copy
with the “Springfield Vt” poem currently in progress–

Read Rufus Porter by Himself (published version)

Read When Superman Died in Springfield, Vt (published version)

Read Going Back to Elinore Quelch

Read Names of Horses (published version)

Read Kicking the Leaves (published version)

Read The Black Faced Sheep (published version)

Read Flies (published version)