Book Twelve



Leicester Kyle


Commentary & References:

Letter to Jack Ross (26/7/02):

Dear Jack,

Here's another one. I wrote it last year, then let it lie for quite a while, being not confident of its worth; it seems to me to be too low-key with too little poetic content. My aim was to describe the events, with little overt interpretation, and by means of a low tone to - by contrast - heighten and clarify the colours of the day. I don't think this is very successful. My hope is that the peculiar culture of the occasion just might make it interesting enough to be a good read. Towards the end it gets a bit more like E L Masters - I do this to match the relaxing tone of the wedding, and its conclusion.

The wedding is one I took here in Millerton, and this is a faithful account of its proceeding; I've set it in Tintown, a now vanished mining village on the Plateau. I will, as always, be glad of your thoughts on the work.

Thanks for 'Brief', and the inclusion of 'Mr. Emerson and Mr Muir'. I wrote that over a year ago too, and thought it most probably worthless, so I let it lie unregarded, to recently return and do a lot more work at. The end result seemed pretty clean, and to speak clearly for itself, so I'm glad you like it. I shall subscribe to 'Brief' later in the year, with reservation - not against the journal itself, but against literary journals in general, as I have much appreciated my break from them. It has been so peaceful. All I've been getting is 'Landfall' and 'Heat', and have been much refreshed by the pleasures of ignorance. However, I know that ignorance is an immoral state which, for my own spiritual benefit, must be ended. Soon my shelves shall again be stocked with the literary proceedings of the land.

Fortunately, I shall soon have more shelves. The builders are at present at work making me a new garage (a big double one with a work bench), another room at the back of the house, and a new shed. The new room will be for a laundry and storage, which will make more room in the rest of the house for books. When it's all finished, as it soon shall be, I will be well set up indeed, but in the meantime I am much disrupted, chiefly by noise and mud, and from chasing after my dog who is fascinated by the builders.

I much value your comments on 'Bliss', and am pleased you find it intriguing. A number of copies went out to various persons, and so far the response has been slight - generally along the lines of "great poetry and. witty, but what does it mean?"; most seem to find it a little disturbing. In it there is a great deal of K1erkegaard, Socrates, Aristophanes, and classical Christian mysticism e.g. the ventifact on the beach, the hanging basket, the impossible present etc. which is all a probably heady mix but one that is fun to be in.

The Buller Community Arts Council has approached me with an offer to fund the publication of my next work, "Things to do with Kerosene", to the value of $500. I am surprised and very pleased, as I've lived quietly here and not had a high public profile. It's great to have some recognition in my own region; they will also give me a book launch in an historic home at Westport. The collection is very small, and will be about the size of my Plateau poems, and will be nicely done. It will come out in October.

They published an interview with me in the local newspaper, in which it was stated that I have been the parish priest in Millerton for forty years! When I went to correct the error they would do nothing -­ clearly this is the belief that's wanted. The article was so romantic that over the next few days sight-seers drove slowly by, embarrassing the builders. With the interview was put a Donne-ish poem of mine -'A Metaphysic'. Fortunately, as I now have a mortgage, I am forced to remain phlegmatic.

The next work I'm contemplating will be about quilting and marxism; I'll get on to it when this building is over. It's good to have a clear break, and refreshing to have to do with practical things. As usual, I keep very well, and am finding lots of lovely orchids, including a rare and tiny one on a tree in my back yard, yesterday.

Thanks also for your few lines at the back of 'Brief'. When I describe my writing as eccentric I mean ex-centric, which I do decidedly feel I am. When I write poetry I feel much as I did when speaking in England to the English - that I did not use quite the same language, but had word structures intonations and ideas that belonged to a foreign territory.

All the best to you with 'Brief'; I'm sure you'll do well, and I'll keep sending in material, and stuff (everyone always sends in stuff, these days). I hope you continue very well, and that all goes happily.

Kindest regards,


© Leicester Kyle, July 2002

Editorial Note

The copytext for the facsimile is my own copy of Leicester's original photocopied text. The initial copytext for the transcription (with the exception of pp. 22 & 26) comes from Microsoft Word files found on the hard-drive of Leicester's computer after his death, emended by reference to the facsimile.

- Jack Ross,
Mairangi Bay, March 2012.

© Leicester Kyle Literary Estate, 2012

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