Letter to Scott Hamilton (1999)
Sunday, 30 August, 1998
8 Everest Rd
The author of “30 Names NZ Literature could do without” can’t be afraid of talking turkey, so I’ll just say that all that scrawling all over my essay the other Friday implies to me that you think it’s a load of old wank. Conceit and self-importance are certainly undesirable traits, but are (I suspect) largely unavoidable in any piece of prose written by oneself about oneself. I’ve looked through it again, with that in mind, and find that I still more or less agree with what I’ve written, and hope that it is sufficiently ironic at its own expense internally.
Of course, you’ll probably disagree, in which case we can leave it at that. I mean, it is a load of old wank, and it’s also very romantic and mystical in parts, and clearly not part of the Salt party line. Nevertheless, I think it would make quite an amusing impression if printed with the “Wharfbury Dogs” text.
Anyway, in case you’re still interested, I’ve enclosed a disk with two versions of the essay. The first file, “Poetics,” has the essay in columns which match almost exactly in length (the italics column had to be a couple of millimetres larger than the roman column in order for this to work; I also had to segment each page separately to get them to mirror each other). I suspect that this text might turn into inextricable confusion if put into another software program, so I’ve also included a file, “Poetics 2,” with the two texts printed straightforwardly one after the other. This would probably be easiest to work with.
For luck, I’ve also included two files with the poem on them. The first: “Wharfbury Dogs,” has the poem; the second, “Wharfbury 2” has the marginal frieze (actually I don’t know how necessary the latter is).
P.S. I hope the two Salt 6’s are going to have the same cover. The gag will hardly work otherwise. Even if you scorn my essay the pander might still do a review …