[Eureka Springs, Arkansas]: April 22 [N.Y.]. 3 page Autograph Letter Signed by Stanford to his editor, publisher, and collaborator Irv Broughton. Black marker on three lined sheets measuring 8.5 x 11" and each with a dark round ink mark to the header. Some minor smudging to page 1 and one water drop affecting the word Twain on page 3. A letter which gives the reader a sense of Stanford's dedication to his craft, and a new approach to writing and revising fragments of his work that would ultimately remain uncollected until after his death.
"Dear Irv, Could you send back the two red manuscripts? Wounds and Naegling. I need to look them over for any revisions they might need. You have the only copies...I thought I had lost some other of the Wounds, but a girl brought them back today. She just took them at a party we had about 6 months ago. She say 'Sorry?' I weeded out what I have of them here and I have about fifty in back, but I don't care about publishing them all together anymore. I will just use the best from Naegling here and there. Wounds is a joke." So Stanford begins his letter, focused on the business of self-editing, selecting the best of his work and setting aside the remainder. Naegling, a number of poems Stanford had named after Beowulf's sword and originally intended as a series, ultimately did get broken apart and used in some of his most famous chapbooks between 1974-1975. Wounds, meanwhile, would not be published until decades after his death.
Unlike earlier letters by Stanford, in which he discusses burning or discarding manuscripts, however, we learn in this letter than Broughton has urged against the destruction of material. Though he worries that his work lacks a unique voice and too heavily replicates authors he loves, he has committed to keep them for continued revision or at least as learning experiences. "I've been writing many new poems. All my old stories are too much like Borges though -- even the ones I wrote before reading him, so I'm just writing poems now & a novel -- new one, but it is too much like David Copperfield, and Twain, and Stevenson, but I'm not going to throw anything away anymore. I'm going to do what you said to do. Anyway, the practice is good." This new practice, encouraged by Broughton, allowed for the preservation of a vast number of Stanford poetry and prose pieces that would not be published until 2015's What About This -- allowing a new generation to read and appreciate the poet's unique literary point of view. (Item #3007)