McNair to Hall: March 29, 1980


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March 29, 1980

Dear Don,

I was sorry to learn of James Wright’s death. It must have been
a very tough thing for you. Has there been any news of it in the press?
I have not read of it anywhere outside of your letter.

I came to Wright’s poetry late, though I did encounter the
Eisenhower/Franco poem (can’t remember the title exactly, and can’t
find the poem) earlier on, and I still remember the thrill of reading it.
I saw the Wright poems in your Contemporary American Poetry early, too,
but it was much later that I got to his books. Needless to say, he has
left many beautiful poems behind.

You are quite welcome to compliments about String Too Short To Be
And about the poems. I realize now that I did not mention
in my letter one of my favorite poems from The Alligator Bride – I
mean “Mount Kearsage”. Ever since you did your reading at Colby, that
poems has stuck with me. I can still hear the way you said its
wonderful last line, “blue ghost”. I often think of that poem as I
drift downward towards Crockett’s Corners from Colby and that mountain
rises before me.

Incidentally, I heard not long ago from Fran McCullough, who
sent my manuscript back saying she had hoped to publish it with
Harper and Row, but now could not and did not expect to be able to –
since it was a first book – with any of the houses she might join in
the future. I was pleased that she had taken the manuscript seriously
enough to advocate its publication, though, obviously, I was
disappointed to have it returned. I do appreciate all your help in
bringing the book to her attention. Who knows but before too long
your opinion of the book will be vindicated. Though you have warned
me to “expect nothing”, I can’t help hoping.

I am beginning to worry that you did not receive a copy of the
new-improved “Fat Enter Heaven”, since I have not heard from you
about it. I believe you were off somewhere doing a reading when I
sent the copy, so perhaps you never saw it. Anyway, I enclose another
copy for your perusal.

Diane tells me to say she has finished String and loved it.

Best from us both,


Read Mount Kearsarge (published version)

Read The Fat Enter Heaven (published version)