McNair to Hall: September 5, 1980


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September 5, 1980

Dear Don,

As always, you are right about my poem, and right
that it should be left for awhile. After my frenzied
correspondence about it, I sat down and read it, I mean
really read it, and I saw that I must try to reveal
more of the innocence of the “slow children,” so that the last
line suggests their ability to break free even of the
circumstances which led to their joy, into “pure joy.”

What made me nervous, too, was that the poem was
too close to making fun of the children. I went too
far, I think, towards trying to be “objective” in
my presentation of them, fearing that I might become
sentimental if I allowed myself too much sympathy.
It may well turn out that the hard part is done –
ie, I already have the situation I need for the poem,
some of its images and the kind of pacing I need.
The movement of the poem towards the “innerness” of
the slow children – that pacing – took a long time
to get, and I don’t expect that part to change much. Also,
I still like the way they transform the game and
its meaning.

But this is a hard thing to write about, especially
given the situation of the retarded on a baseball field.


If I can deal with such a risky situation, I
may have a better poem for it.

But I do go on. Thanks for writing about the
poem and for being your usual shrewd self.

Thanks too for repeating what you told Diane
about the “placement” of my poems in Poetry.
You make me feel good all over again. It would
be nice if Nims took other stuff.

Oh – and my lips are sealed about your secret.
My own secret is that I do not have to feel sorry
for myself this term. One good thing about being
there instead of here would be the chance to see
you to talk every now and then. But maybe
we can manage that here, with a get-together soon.

It’s better with bourbon, anyway.

I am going to try not to send you anything
for awhile now. I do have poems,
and many things underway, too – perhaps too
many. But I feel I should keep them in my own
head for awhile.

So – until then –



P.S. Did you see the poem “Venice” by James Wright
in the June Poetry? Wasn’t that fine?