A New Rambler Supplement and a Very Short Survey


There are now 114 subscribers to The New Rambler. In age they span about seven decades, in geography, three countries.


Over the past few months I have been using three different computers. I have tried to keep the mailing list consistent, but if, for some reason, you have missed an issue, or gotten an issue twice, or something, please accept my apologies. Back issues are available on the web (www.avalon.net/~rambler), or via e-mail, by request.

Remember back awhile ago when I sent out the notice asking for favorite poem submissions? Well, I haven’t forgotten about them completely. Submissions so far have been

  • “Spring and Fall: To A Young Child” Gerard Manly Hopkins
  • “Song on St. Cecilia’s Day” John Dryden
  • “Yes Yes” Charles Bukowski
  • “Each in His Own Tongue” William Herbert Carruth
  • “fair ladies tall lovers” e. e. cummings
  • “Atlantis” Mark Doty
  • and a number of Shel Silverstein poems

Someday when I’m feeling more ambitious I’ll type a few of them up.

Several of you have heard tell of the Star Wars interviews that I did back in May. Ostensibly these interviews, conducted with various people waiting outside the Englert in downtown Iowa City in the three hours prior to the premiere of The Phantom Menace, were for a book I’m theoretically going to write someday about being a kid in the ’80s. (Actually, I think that might be kind of a dumb topic; mostly, it’s reactionary. I’m so sick of reading books about the ’60s. But I am fascinated by the 1980s, and by the idea that Star Wars was a term being bandied by both George Lucas and Ronald Reagan. . . .) Anyway, in the meantime, I shall be transcribing said interviews, and they’ll be available on the website, or via e-mail or hard copy, by request. Don’t hold your breath, though.

The last issue, No. 13, has sparked considerable confusion, my own perhaps more than anyone’s. When and if I’ve made it any clearer to myself, I’ll pass on what I can. The very first New Rambler I ever wrote started as an e-mail to a friend one evening, until, at some point half way through, I realized I was just telling her a lot of stuff she already knew. I thought about junking it, but, either because I hate throwing things away or because I was feeling angry at the world and cut off from communication as I had come to understand it, I didn’t. I added several dozen e-mail addresses, called it The New Rambler, No. 1, hit send, and waited for the recriminations to come in. Only they didn’t.

When people have told you your whole life that you are good at something, you tend to discredit it. Most writers say that writing is incredibly difficult. I have never found it so. Writing that others may read–read and possibly misunderstand, disagree, or dislike–that is hard. I claim that I write to make people think, but of course that is not the whole truth. I write to make people think like me, and to say that I want you to think like me, is, of course, tantamount to saying I really don’t want you to think at all. That I keep on writing despite that contradiction suggests to me that I either have weak morals or an arrogant will. Since neither of these is an admirable trait, I try to avoid thinking about it–but it makes it very, very difficult to write.


One word answers are sufficient, but anything more you’d care to tell me would be excellent. There is no precise purpose behind this survey (apologies to statisticians, psychologists, and others who may find such lack of direction an abomination)–I’m just testing out some hypotheses and satisfying my curiousity.

    1. Have you ever fired a gun?
    2. If you have read The Catcher in the Rye: How old were you when you first read it, and did you like it at the time?

Please e-mail your answers to me.

Thanks for reading.


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