There are some authors whose letters I happen to enjoy more than their formal creative work. William Maxwell is a prime example of this. I haven’t read enough of Ted Hughes’s work (poetic or epistolatory) to determine whether he too falls in this category for me, but this excerpt from Richard Eder’s review in last Friday’s New York Times grabbed me:
<blockquotEarlier, while Plath was still alive and [she and Hughes] were together, there is his unstinting reassurance, rejoicing in her successes and praising her work. Above all, after her death there is his searing defense of her shattering “Ariel” poems. To Donald Hall, an admirer who nevertheless found “Ariel” too sensational to be first-rate poems, he wrote:
“Whatever you say about them, you know they’re what every poet wishes he or she could do,” Hughes wrote. “When poems hit so hard, surely you ought to find reasons for their impact, not argue yourself out of your bruises.”
While looking up the online version of Eder’s piece, I came across today’s article on this year’s Nobel Prize winners in physics. Michael Turner’s “You have to look for symmetries even when you can’t see them” is begging to be turned into a poem.