Fan-Mail - seven verse letters
Verse letters to friends which were published separately in periodicals during 1974-75, and then collected and published in this form by Faber and Faber in 1977. Philip Larkin, in a letter, pointed out that the title should not have a hyphen. A slim volume verging on the flimsy, it was reviewed like the plague but did me good. The different verse forms I adopted were identical in their salutary discipline. It sounds like masochism and sometimes felt like it, but in the long run the exigencies of rhyme and metre made plainness mandatory by revealing would-be profundities as fudge.
Of the seven letters, six are reproduced here. I felt bound to discard the first verse letter I ever wrote. Addressed to John Fuller, it was too clumsy to keep, in view of the high standards of craftsmanship he set for those poets of his generation who followed his example in producing, or trying to produce, urbane and entertaining public verse.
Later verse letters to Michael Frayn and to Craig Raine, and birthday poems to Anthony Thwaite and Gore Vidal, were collected, along with these six, in Other Passports, published in 1986 by Jonathan Cape.
- To Russell Davies: a letter from Cardiff, 1974
- To John Fuller: a letter from London, 1974
- To Martin Amis: a letter from Indianapolis, 1974
- To Pete Atkin: a letter from Paris, 1974
- To Prue Shaw: a letter from Cambridge, 1974
- To Tom Stoppard: a letter from London, 1975
- To Peter Porter: a letter to Sydney, 1975