McNair to Hall: October 11, 1980


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October 11, 1980

Dear Don,

Well, I was hoping the poem was better than you appear to think.
I will just have to wait for awhile and then look at it again to see
what can be done. Thank you for your thoughts, as always.

I write to ask for still another favor. Would you be willing
to send a recommendation for me to the placement office of Associated
Writing Programs?

The reason I need the recommendation is that I want to leave
Colby-Sawyer. I need a place that is more stimulating, and which
takes up less of my writing time. I have been hoping to leave for some
years, actually, but it has taken me a long time, as you know, to get
degrees and publications in order. For an extra advantage in job-hunting
it would be nice, of course, to have the book placed. But who knows?
Maybe the book will be published soon enough to give my applications
a push. In the meantime, I will just have to hope that my publications,
grants and recommendations will serve well enough.

I would not be asking for the recommendation at all if I were
planning to apply for a position in American studies. As it happens,
I have a fairly complete dossier (at Middlebury) in those areas. But
I’ve decided to apply for jobs in creative writing (an area in which
I’ve done some teaching in the past), or in a combination of creative
writing and literature. That is, I plan finally to adjust my teaching
assignment to my real self, kept secret for so long! And for that I need
a different sort of statement.

I do know how painful recommendation-writing can be. If it is too
painful at the moment—because you are busy with poems, textbook
revisions, or freshman themes—please feel free to wait. The AWP dossier
will have at least two other recommendations in it by the end of next
week. Yours can come along later if you wish.

The jobs I’m interested in right now, by the way, come from the
most recent AWP job notice. One is at Arizona State; the other, at
Loyola University of Chicago. As I say, I am a little nervous about
not having placed my book before applying to these places, or to any others.
Under the circumstances, a comment from you about the manuscript I now
have probably wouldn’t hurt, if you wouldn’t mind furnishing one.

Incidentally, I did get a bit of good news the other day. Alan
Pater, editor of the Anthology of Magazine Verse & Yearbook of Am. Poetry,


wrote to ask me for permission to reprint “The Bald Spot” in the 1981
volume of his anthology, going shortly to press. All hail to Joey
for placing the poem in Poetry in the first place!

Thanks again for your comments on my poem. I hope you are enjoying
the foliage around Eagle Pond Farm.



P.S.—I enclose an addressed, stamped envelope for your convenience.

Editorial note about this letter: The poem referred to in the first paragraph is “Waving Goodbye,” which Hall assesses in his final letter of Section III.

Read Waving Goodbye (published version)

See also a selection of McNair’s manuscript notes and drafts for “Waving Goodbye.”