Dear Callie,

       Your charming essay on Mr. Guthrie's ballad is indeed most insightful, a little work of art in itself.  Let me be the first to recognize that your writing is entirely sincere, accurate, and forthright.  But, Oh Callie, it is of the same cloth as the gratuitous analysis spun out by our academics, in place of teaching.  They used to claim that "scholarly publishing" was in support of teaching, but they no longer even bother to defend their insider banter.  You will permit me now just a dash of back-home honesty:  cui prodit?  Are you not right there on the firing line with your New Critics, when the poet snaps:

Oh, as if I didn't know your devotion,
It's not the poet's, it's self promotion.

Ja! Wer eure Verehrung nicht kennte:
Euch, nicht ihm baut ihr Monumente.
       I could credit you with the ability to write both informingly and engagingly.  The problem is one of form, in more ways than one.  For example, by your very choice of prose essay you suggest that "East Texas Red" is a composition--you even show how it is organized and integrated.  I doubt that Woody did anything of the sort.  You yourself compare him to Rantin' Rab.  Both men are natural singers.  Tell us, then, about spontaneity, show us spontaneity.  Sure, Guthrie is a consummate artist, but I doubt that his art, however subtly it works, does so at any conscious level.   You, Callie, are not writing for a dean or for his committee.  So go ahead and say what you mean, just as you do in your stories, let the reader like it or lump it.

       With best wishes from the Sabana to Indian Creek, your

                                                                                                   JW

Please return to Professor Worthy's Page                                                                                                     Home

or see the correspondence with Katherine Anne Porter.