McNair to Hall: June 19, 1982

Letter from McNair to Hall, June 19, 1982, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire

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June 19, 1982

Dear Don,

I have a feeling I left a word out
of that poem, “When Paul Flew Away.”

On page 2, it’s “the whole enormous weight/
of him hanging over the sink.”

Please insert that word, if necessary–



A note from McNair about this letter: “Paul” is a fictional disguise for my older brother Paul, from Wisconsin, who played the accordion and was taken into the hospital for a life-threatening kidney operation when I began this poem. Thus, the character’s comic “flying away” has a darker association. Though I later added a phrase to the poem’s opening description of Paul (“with that worried look”) and changed the verb “began” in the first sentence to “begun,” the poem I sent in my original letter was virtually complete.

Read When Paul Flew Away (published version)