Thank you for your letter. It is always pleasant to learn that someone takes an interest in a work which one enjoyed writing. In the past I have declined to comment on my own work: because, it seems to me, a poem is what it is; because a poem is itself a definition, and to try to redefine it is to be apt to falsify it; and because the author is the person least able to consider his own work objectively. Though as for the last, one certainly has to try. . . . The aim of any poet, or other artist, is to first to make something; and it's impossible to make something out of words and not communicate. However, if a poem can be reduced to a prose sentence, there can't be much to it. (Someone, I believe, has said that 'what a poem communicates it itself.' This seems to me true.)The notes to Just the Thing: Selected Letters of James Schuyler explain that it's unusual that Schuyler took the time to write to a fan--and, in fact, the letter itself was discovered by Schuyler's friend John Ashbery in his papers years later, unsigned and, it seems likely, never sent.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Sticking for another day with writers' letters, a genre I never tire of reading, here's a charming one from poet James Schuyler, written in response to a fan letter from a Miss Batie on March 25, 1969: