Sunday, November 6, 2011

Evidence of penpal relationship with Natalie Merchant (for Michael R. Allen)

My friend Michael R. Allen and I don't talk nearly as much as I like, but when we do, even in evanescent social media banter, it's often about Natalie Merchant, the great songwriter, singer, bandleader, and poetry scorer.

And I never banter about Natalie Merchant without bragging about being her penpal before everybody knew her name and threatening to produce evidence, which I never produce.

Well, I am sorting the archive, which is indistinguishable from cleaning my basement, and in the laying on of hands on everything that I have not thrown away or lost already, I laid hands on my archive of manuscripts, autographs and letters yesterday. And there was this from Natalie Merchant, the first letter received in 1986, which survived the ravages of time and between-home-lessness.

The penpal relationship never got much deeper than this, though I prized having the back channel of her mother's home address. Now I approach the great woman through her publisher, and have not heard back lately. Oh well, we'll always have the autograph with the quirky "private private private" coda.

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