McNair to Hall: November 23, 1981


[Click image to view]

November 23, 1981

Dear Don,

It was very good to see you and Jane last night. I’ve made up
my mind we will do it more often, barring conflicts in your
schedule or Jane’s, It does seem silly not to get together more
than once a year–a hazard, I guess, of living so near each other.

Enclosed is the revised manuscript I forgot to give you.
As you suggested, I made it “bulky”. I am very excited about the
result. What do you think? If I hear nothing negative from you,
I will have it run off next week.

I’ve also enclosed two poems for Joey, if you agree they’re
ready. I am awfully glad you like “Mina Bell’s Cows”
[Written in margin: and thanks for your suggestions!].
I was worried about that one. I like my poems, too, when they are “thick and
muscular and even fat,” as you put… “thick and gross.” (Your
description is so close, it gives me hope!) I was hoping for that
kind of thing in this poem, and I thought I was on the way with
the handling of the story, and with words like “Ape” and “walleyed”.
I’m glad you discover “grossness” in the poem.

I sometimes think of the energy and even the vulgarity of
country-Western music with poems like these–of getting that sort
of thing into a poem and refining just enough to make “literature”.
Early comics, say, or dirty jokes have a similar energy. Or Dear
Abby letters. “The tears have washed I love you from the blackboard
of my heart” and “I want to be a cowboy for Jesus in the Holy Ghost
Corral”–words like these have in them the yearning and sadness and
humor of the poetry I often want to write–this in spite of their
bathos, maybe even because of it.

Anyway, I hope you like book, poems and all. Let me know
when you can.



P.S.: How did the reading at Iowa go?

A note from McNair about this letter: The two poems referred to in this letter are a revision of “Mina Bell’s Cows” and the same version of “A Dream of Herman” I mailed to Don on October 8.