Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Letter From Richard Hugo

Dear Michael Wilding
I am in my 1960 Cadillac convertible, making the long drive back from my cabin in the Montana wilderness to Seattle. The Pacific North West blows open before me, wide-angled and ghosted with renewal and decay. I am talking into a portable tape recorder, and will type this up when I get home. 
Shortly before I left White Centre I received a letter from my friend James Dickey, who is in hospital recovering from a an arrow-wound to the thigh. Best not to ask too many questions where Jim is concerned. Anyway, he told me that one night he received a phone call from a man called Anthony Lawrence. Jim was delighted of course, and talked with Anthony who was feeding dollar coins into a phone box somewhere in the wilds of Western Australia. He was quoting Jim’s poetry to him and asking questions. Now, the story gets a little more twisted here, because two years ago I learned from the editor of the  North Dakota Quarterly that Anthony is doing a PhD on my poetry. He’d been writing requesting back issues with interviews and reviews of my work. And now I learn from Jim that there is trouble brewing on an island north of Sydney. Anthony called Jim again shortly before his accident. He was in quite a state apparently, telling Jim stories of betrayal and anti-fishing activity. Stories of a fellow they call the Red K, and how he is working for the Other Side. Well I won’t have it, dammit. Jim was about to jump on a plane with his hunting bow and arrows and head down there to “carve the redness from the trouble-makers” but was wounded before he could organise the trip. He’s asked if I would take his place. Of course I’d be delighted. I will be leaving this Friday and should be in Sydney late Sunday night. Jim has assured me someone will be at the airport to meet me. I travel light, but I’m heavy. I crowd out in a stand. 
I’m looking forward to meeting you all.
Your friend in poetry
Richard Hugo

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