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This report is taken from PN Review 126, Volume 25 Number 4, March - April 1999.

Why Write? Penny McCarthy

Our esteemed editor has recently taken to sending me copies of new imprints from Carcanet, and not one but two (at least) copies of the new catalogue, with earnest requests for my views. Alarmed by this behaviour, I spoke to him on the phone. Did he want me to review any of the poetry he had sent, for PNR, perhaps? No, not exactly. It was for my delectation. Did I like the discursive essays in PNR? Isn't The Phoenix and the Turtle the most sublime thing in Shakespeare's oeuvre? Where had I been recently - walking in the Spanish Pyrenees? Perhaps I could ramble on in writing, with a 'Letter from...' about them?

Pondering the inner meaning of all this as I set down the phone, I decided that the earlier missives had been a kind of cry for... not help, but greater productivity on my part in the enterprise that is PNR. I should have been buying the new books, or bringing in new readers, sending poems, Writing From. Fair enough: I should, especially from New York, where I have been living for two years. But why did I feel resistance to Writing From the Pyrenees, where I had been, not rambling, but walking fiercely for three separate periods of about a week each?

I felt it had something to do with the back-packs - that and my lack of preparation for joining the expedition at all, for I had not thought that such ...

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