Letter From Rod McKuen to A D Winans

Dear AD,
I put off reading Akbar's interview with you until I could safely squirrel away some time to really read it. I knew it would be worthwhile and as I suspected the answers blew away the questions. You always exceed my expectations of you.

Lots of excuses for setting aside pure and thoughtful enjoyment such as perusing words from a poet and human being I admire and respect. A member of the family wasted away and died - just a cat to anyone who thinks being owned by a feline, silly, stupid or just plain weird, but Kubby was the closest thing I had left to a family.

I haven't heard from one brother since he was, after much petitioning brought handcuffed by plain clothed guards, from some penitentiary or another, to Mom's funeral some decades past. Long ago we had stopped getting along when we were just getting along and not relating. The other brother? We are too close. Life was never easy with him and I'm sure his appraisal of me would be the same. Still I love him and would do anything for him but our life together seems increasingly a series of threats and demands by him and negotiations or silence from me. I am too old to quarrel and find it a waste of time so the silences between us grow longer.

Last month I turned 74 and he, like you, is 71 - born three years and two days apart we celebrate our birthdays on the day between . . . so on April 28th we turned 150.

Losing Kubby only amplified my sense of aloneness, not solitude, I covet solitude and can never get enough of it. I know you feel the same about the productivity and solace of being alone, your poetry, approach to it and your forty year fight to have time alone to write ring clear.

Other excuses; deadlines not met, promises not kept, mail unanswered, as always saying yes to every project offered and only fulfilling a portion of them. Making endless lists, feeling guilty about not cleaning up my room . ..let alone my life. And, on and on and on. (What guts to complain about every flat surface in my room being taken up with stuff when your rooms and world have recently burned down.)

I hope you have waded through all this AD because it's a preamble to what I want to say about the kinship I found in your words. Having your poetry to rely on is something, but overhearing your conversation with an interviewer starts to make a presumptive friendship with you important.

It's after 4:00 am here, as it is up north with you, and I haven't yet gotten to the meat and spuds of what I want to address, I'm rambling and growing tired -- though I know it will be another sleepless night. Even changing the trusty right hand to the left, thus attempting to entice and surprise my dick, doesn't seem to work any more but I'll get through this night and morning as I do the rest.

Wanted you to know in the meantime that I'm thinking of you and that your words are spinning in my ears. With a clearer head & maybe no scotch I'll continue, maybe even before cleaning my room.

Please remember that poets go on forever, whatever that is and the best that can be said for academians is that they had a nut named after them. All of us are out there in the same leaky boat and we should be bailing instead of throwing mud at one another.

Luv and all that goes with it,


Rod McKuen is an American poet, songwriter, composer, and singer. He was one of the best-selling poets in the United States during the late 1960s. Throughout his career, McKuen produced a wide range of recordings, which included popular music, spoken word poetry, film soundtracks, and classical music. He earned two Oscar nominations and one Pulitzer nomination for his serious music compositions.

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