Sunday 17 December 2006

Donald Hall, still awesome, profiled

Recently, Hall has been appointed Poet Laureate of the United States, and his new book White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 1946 - 2006 is a momument to a marvellous body of work from a marvellous poet. If you're a fan of his as I am, this recent profile by Mike Pride makes for good reading.
The short cold days of winter have come to northern New England, and Donald Hall dreads them. He is the nation's poet laureate, a man made for this job, a poet seasoned to speak about essential things - what poetry means in our age, what poetry is, and isn't. Hall is also a 78-year-old man, bowed, slowed but not quite stilled, wishing he were 70 again.
He writes little now, or seems to. When I visited him recently, he said he had a couple of poems under way and was thinking about another. You can't trust what poets tell you about their works in progress because they delight in exaggerating their misery, but Hall is famous for his industry. He has almost always had dozens of poems in various stages of revision. Some mornings now, he works on his memoirs, but others he spends reading and dozing in the blue chair in the living room of what was once his mother's family's farmhouse.
Age has not diminished Hall's standards for poetry, including his own. The Nov. 13 New Yorker published his Maples, a poem that condenses nearly his entire lifespan into 22 lines while also striking the themes of his lifework: decline and loss, place, nature, mankind's addiction to wanton destruction. (from the St. Petersburg Times)

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