I was privileged to meet Elliott and Helen through the painter Richard Hennessy in the late 1960s. I had been a huge fan of his work for some years before that, and after we met I think we mentioned the possibility of collaborating on a work, but nothing came of it. Then a friend told me of the composers and librettists grants given by the National Endowment for the Arts, saying that it was seldom applied to since not many people knew about it. Our application was successful, and Elliott and I set about trying to write a suitable text, but each one I showed to Elliott seemed to interest him less than my poem “Syringa,” which had already been published. It occurred to me that that was of little consequence compared to the possibilities Elliott might see in the poem, and that the foundation would hardly object to this detail in light of the prestigious work that was sure to result. Indeed, no one ever asked us to return the award money and Syringa remains one of Carter’s key works, which I shall always be happy to have been part of.