20 June 2013

by jkatejohnston

Dear Max,

Yesterday morning I said to Teresa, “My diary gets really boring when you guys are gone.” I was fishing for a compliment, something along the lines of, “It’s not that bad.”

“Oh my god, delete, delete, delete!” (Teresa gets the my diary in her email.) “And you guys didn’t write enough about Mr. Stephens when he was alive? Now you’re like, ‘Oh, he’s dead! Let’s write about him some more!'”

The Al project is partly to get more people to know about his work, but I’ll bet most people who don’t already love him will feel about the same way. What is wrong with you people? I’m reminded of a sentence from Patrick O’Brian that I won’t be able to find: “Devotion—that deeply irritating quality.” Talking, of course, about devotion that you don’t happen to share.

But fuck ’em. I’m writing this for myself.

I wonder what Al would think about the blog project, the new books, the website. I think he’d be pleased and amused. He didn’t care about being famous, but surely all writers want to be read. (I’m dying to be read. It’s ridiculous.)

One time, about twenty years ago, he told me that he’d gone to the ER—not for anything super-serious—and the young woman doctor looked up from his chart and asked if he was Alan Stephens the poet. He laughed when he told me about it. He was pleased.


I’m on the couch right now surrounded by yellow legal pads, open volumes of Alan Stephens and Thomas Hardy, loose scraps of paper. I’m happy and excited.  I’ve been up since four. Teresa just walked by, rolled her eyes and snored.