October 31, 1963—Hallowe’en!
Please forgive me for taking so long to answer—I have been quite swamped. The last thing I got from you was a card from Samambaia, and a day or two before, your letter from there. Yes, there was a letter on blue paper along with the photo reviews I sent—talked about our stay at Wellfleet— but nothing very important in it, so don’t worry. That’s interesting that some translated poems you’ve done are going to be in POETRY—I’ll be watching for them. Your account of your week’s rest at the 7th-Day Adventists hospital was amusing—but the whole business of Lota’s typhoid and your exhaustion I’m sure was not. I do hope you are both tip-top again by now. I send you what I think ought to be a charming remedy for anything and everything (See exhibit 1)—found in a manuscript which ND may publish, called THE EMBOSSED TEA KETTLE by Hakuin Zenji. I’m going to try it as soon as I get sick—in spirit or body. The samba record came by mail—I expect your Betty T. sent it from the States—we’re so very glad to have it. We have some friends who are great goat-skin drummers and had them to a party recently—they augmented the record so effectively that Prof. Plant downstairs hammered on the ceiling for quiet—and of course we were dancing, too. ( I love those wild whistles that indicate a change of rhythm.) I recently bought a Jaoa Gilberto record—Pops in Portuguese" that’s pretty good—the guitar is, but his voice is too cool and civilized, seems to me. I loved the Johnson Blues.
About the Bicos Lacres—does the lacre mean lacquer or sealing wax? If not, what? You did say "rose red spot" and "baked bean" not "jelly bean"—and I don’t care, I want to use your original words. Don’t care if they’re originally from Africa or Australia—I want to place them in Brazil. But I will go up to the Bronx Zoo (where they have a splendid bird pavilion with everything in the world in it and meet the little wonders personally. I was up there with Margaret Marshall and Alice Morris about six weeks ago. Zamesie and Ranee, the lioness and tigress that I once wrote a poem about, are gone. I saw in another cage an old lioness that looked like Zambesie—but all alone– I must find that Donald Hall anthol. with a poem dedicated to you—it’s probably the Penguin (English) one—no I’m not in that, but I’ll send it to you when I get it so you can see who else is "using you" (besides me and Howard – I’d never be able to do as well as he did in his poem to you.) Darn it, I’m sorry to hear you’re not one of Mary’s group—I don’t want to read it much, now—but will, since I’ve got it on reserve at the library—but it hasn’t come through yet.
Did you have the Governor to dinner—and did it go off all right? (I guess that’s old stuff by now.)
I’m sorry I discarded the LIFE with Lowell’s picture—but am sending you some other "findings": MM’s little article in The Writer’s Digest, of all places, and new poem of hers in NY Review of Books, which you may already have seen—but isn’t it wonderful? I love "or freak/calico-Greek." But I don’t agree with her argument—"Nothin mundane is divine"—having just written a long poem (well, not just about 2 months ago) called "Gods. Children." And am sending you Ned Rorem’s piece on Cocteau from "The Village Voice"—which I like very much—do you? What is the background of Cocteau’s drawing with your name on it? Particularly puzzing is the date on it—1963 (?) I’m immensely curious about this. And final exhibit is review in verse of MODERN POETS (also from NY Review, so you may have seen it)—clever. Did I tell you how I hate what they did to me in that anthology—with a silly biog. that makes me ridiculously younger than I am?
Please do send me names of every record that you would like, so I can buy them and perhaps send them with your Betty T. if she’s returning to Brazil in December or whenever. And let me know if I should send them just to that APO address?
You know, that Ford grant wasn’t something I’d applied for—nor can one apply—but there are others one can ask for, I think. (Man to write to, in case you’re interested, is W. McNeil Lowry, Director, The Ford Foundation, 477 Madison Avenue, NYC 22—You ought to get some of their moola, which they seem to know quite what to do with—that’s why they’re dreaming up these kooky projects. There are just Creative grants, without strings, for writers, now, I believe.) I think I told you I’m not taking it up until fall of ’64—and have to go where they finally decide I should with some theatre group—I hope it will be San Francisco —won’t know until April. No, one can’t use it in Europe, unfortunately.
The visit to Smith College two weeks ago, turned out o.k.—although I didn’t do the reading as I had wished—I hate microphones. They were terribly nice to us—Pearl came with me—picked us up from the airport in chauffered car, gave us cocktails and good dinner—the college president sat at one end of the table and I at the other—to far from each other to do anything but wave, however. After the reading I got through a question period with students and profs. fairly well. I got around it by saying that a poet doesn’t have to know anything—only teachers and students have to know. Somebody said, "What—not have to know anything?" I said, "Well, one should know the alphabet—and a little grammar doesn’t hurt, as long as you don’t get too stuck on it." Next day, a group of half a dozen girls—budding poets—picked us up for lunch and walked us around Paradise Pond, carefully explaining about "Evil Rock" and "Rape Alley" beyond—they were awfully cute and bright—we visited the greenhouse, and then went to eat in their dining room where, they said, they were getting a special lunch because I was there—it was very good, too. Then we went to a lounge and I was interviewed for the school paper by a little charmer, Judy Kroll ’64—it was all a lot of fun, and I think we all liked each other quite a bit—Another one of them took my picture on her instant camera, for the paper, standing under some famous arch, I’ve forgotten its name. The trees were all in autumn foliage up there—a beautiful campus. We met Leonard Baskin and his wife—his sculptures are all over the campus and in the museum. I was asked to donate manuscripts of a poem to the library—and gave them one, autographed. All this, and $500, too! I was truly overwhelmed.
Well, there’s a lot more I intended to tell you—future assignments, etc. But it’s time to got o work at ND—so I’ll save the rest for the next–Laughlin has been out of the office a good deal—I don’t know whether he sent those books you asked for—but I’ll check with Ned E. whether they were sent–
Love to you –and Love to Lota. I do hope your’re both well now, and having an easier time. And Pearl sends loveLink to the image of the first page of this letter.
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