[March 1939]

Dear Earle:

I'm so sick of the bugger Potts that I do not intend to waste any more time on him. Your carbon is a knock-out. You are too generous. Your letter must have taken an hour or more to concoct and type.

Your remarks are the most incisive criticism I've seen in this country. True as geometry and much more interesting.


any more time
Paul Potts had sent verse to both Birney and Pratt requesting critiques. He shortly went to England and was heard from no more. George Woodcock, recalling London during the War, writes of seeing 'Paul Potts "the Canadian Hick Poet"' distributing 'broadsides of his execrable poems in Hyde Park' (Letter to the Past, An Autobiography [Don Mills: Fitzhenry & Whiteside 1982], 303).

Birney had sent Pratt a carbon copy of a lengthy response he had written to Potts (27 February). In it, he accused him of being 'too obviously an imitator of Whitman and of the worst of Whitman,' a shoddy craftsman, and generally 'over-romantic'; he wrote 'too damned much' and rewrote too little. He then offered some practical advice – including the suggestion that Potts send his work to 'a journal less hogtied with prudery than ours.'