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Donald Hall, poet laureate

Donald Hall (b. 1928) was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He attended Phillips Exeter, Harvard, and Oxford. A friend of George Plimpton, founding editor of the Paris Review, he was the magazine’s first poetry editor (1953–1962), choosing the poems appearing in its pages and conducting interviews with such eminences as Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot. Hall taught at the University of Michigan, where his students included Tom Clark, Lawrence Joseph, Jane Kenyon, and Bob Perelman. After leaving his tenured post to become a full-time freelance writer living on his family farm in New Hampshire, he founded the Poets on Poetry series for the University of Michigan Press and served as its general editor until 1994. He has written criticism, fiction, and sports journalism; edited anthologies of contemporary poetry (including The Best American Poetry 1989); debunked shibboleths (that the “death of poetry” has occurred) and inveighed against the “McPoem,” which is “the product of the workshops of Hamburger University.” Hall’s own poems exhibit great versatility in form and rhetoric. On June 14, 2006, he was named poet laureate by the Library of Congress.

The Impossible Marriage
The bride disappears. After twenty minutes of searching
we discover her in the cellar, vanishing against a pillar
in her white gown and her skin’s original pallor.
When we guide her back to the altar, we find the groom
in his slouch hat, open shirt, and untended beard
withdrawn to the belltower with the healthy young sexton
from whose comradeship we detach him with difficulty.
Oh, never in all the cathedrals and academies
of compulsory Democracy and free-thinking Calvinism
will these poets marry! — O pale, passionate
anchoret of Amherst! O reticent kosmos of Brooklyn!

1983


Selected from the Oxford Book of American Poetry.

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Recent Comments

  1. John Gander

    I would like to e-mail Donald Hall partly because I just heard him read some of his poems on The Prairie Home Companion and also I am reading his book “Their Ancient Glittering Eyes.” I would like to tell how much I appreciate his poetry and book and talk to him about another book on Ezra Pound.

    Perhaps you can pass on my e-mail to Mr. Hall.

    Many thanks,

    John Gander.

  2. Donna Marie Hall-McDowell

    Please give my e-mail to Donald Hall.
    Thank you

  3. carol rowe

    Dear Mr. Hall,
    I sat in my rocking chair enjoying my morning coffee and admiring a Red-bellied woodpecker and a Downy on my feeders(and a curse of house sparrows!) whilst reading your “Out the Window” article. I LOVED it!!
    It made me wish all older people could have a chair and a window, feeders and birds to muse upon. No barn here, a tiny yard, but plenty of activity upon which to dwell . Or not.
    Thank you!
    Carol Rowe
    Rockport, MA

  4. Laura reed

    I am reading Unpacking the Boxes, the latest in my forty years of reading and loving your work.I fantasize about meeting you as you have been my friend for so many years. Although I taught poetry for over twenty years and read it voraciously, I am only an admirer, not a good poet myself. I so wish you many days of good health and joy so that I, selfishly, may enjoy reading your words and knowing you exist in this world.
    Laura reed

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