Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What they are saying about Donald Hall

Here is a sampling of things that are being said about our next Poet Laureate - Donald Hall:

  • "He's a highly sophisticated intellectual with an Oxford education who nevertheless presents himself as a poet of simple New England pleasures and forthright passions." National Post (part of Canada.com)
  • "Upon the selection of Donald Hall, a 77-year-old New Hampshire resident, last week, I discovered that no federal money is spent on the position. The $40,000 annual budget -- $35,000 for expenses and $5,000 for travel -- is donated by the Archer M. Huntington Foundation, so don't blame poetry for the $8.4 trillion U.S. budget deficit." Arizona Daily Star
  • "Hall, the nation's new poet laureate, writes about love and death, war, baseball, life in rural America and other things. Yet, we Americans turn instead to Oprah and Jerry Springer, ESPN and the Weather Channel. We lust for news, day and night, about Brad and Angelina. Is it possible for any poet to get a verse in edgewise in this culture? It is Hall's job to try. As the poet laureate, his assignment is to find ways to raise America's awareness of poetry." Herald-Tribune
  • "In this country there is no job description for the poet laureate. And yet the title, which carries a stipend and a travel grant, is not entirely honorific. It's assumed that the laureate will try to advance the cause of poetry
  • " especially the public awareness of poetry" in a manner somehow separate from the writing of poems. To speak on behalf of poetry sounds like a natural task for a poet, and for some poets it certainly is. I don't know whether Hall will turn out to be that kind of laureate, and, in a way, I hope he doesn't. So much of his poetry has emerged from the rigor of his privacy from what appears in his verse to be a deep, unsettling sense of what's possible in one's life. There's always the temptation for the laureate to find some anodyne ground to stand on. But these are not anodyne times." Rutland Herald
  • His life (Hall's) has not been without tragedy. When Hall was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, it was widely assumed that the disease would claim his life. He made a remarkable recovery, only to lose his wife and fellow poet Jane Kenyon to leukemia. Hall has chronicled their marriage in an eloquent recent memoir, "The Best Day the Worst Day." "String Too Short to Be Save," a lyrical memoir of Hall's New England childhood, appeared many years ago. A representative sample of Hall's poetry can be found in "The Museum of Clear Ideas," which includes, among other things, a set of poems about one of Hall's favorite subjects, baseball. We do not know whether poetry, like baseball, will ever be hailed as a great American pastime. But if anyone can promote the idea of poetry as something to be savored, it's Donald Hall." 2the advocate.com
  • "The NY Times announced this morning that New England poet Donald Hall is expected to be named the successor to Ted Koosner. So how many of us immediately thought of Robert Frost when we heard the phrase "New England Poet"? It just conjures up all these bucolic images of white clapboard cottages and low-rise stone walls (good fence make good neighbors, after all), maple trees forever caught in the fall explosion of color, soft spoken poets with down-home folksy attitudes. A sort of Garrison Keillor vision for the northeast. According to the story (which I'm going to have to go on because I have NO idea who Donald Hall is), our new laureate-to-be is rather outspoken about arts funding and plans to use his new position as a means for expanding the reach of poetry in society. Noble, noble aims. This was something both Robert Pinsky and Billy Collins advocated (and still do). If anything needed to be brought out of the Ivory Towers of academia and into people's everyday consciousness, it would be poetry." Orlando Sentinel
  • "I don't know the work of Donald Hall. Indeed, until yesterday, I'm not sure that I had even heard of him. Certainly, the name hadn't stuck." Ready Steady Book
  • "Hall's a good choice for the role of laureate, because his real strength is not so much his own poetry as his support for other poets, and the position is one that's as much about politics as it is about poetry. He's definitely a denizen of the more traditional and (aesthetically) conservative wing of the poetry world, and often passionately so, but he has nonetheless supported quite a wide range of writers. He helped found and continues to guide the Eagle Pond Poetry Series at a local college, a reading series that's often diverse and illuminating." The Mumpsimus
  • "I'm pleased by the news Donald Hall has been appointed the new Poet Laureate of the United States. I have a very low opinion of modern American poetry, but Hall seems like the best of a bad bunch. His poetry especially after his wife died was particularly moving. I'm not that familiar with Hall's work--I think I may have an anthology of someone else's poetry that was compiled by him--mostly because I tend to dislike modern US poetry. But, frankly, I like the idea of government-funded highbrow culture, even in the United States. " Voyeuristic self-indulgence
  • "Donald Hall is the new Poet Laureate. I have always loved him. Specially since the 90's when I saw him read poems at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He was teaching there then." tiny things are nice
  • "Donald Hall is the first poet I discovered on my own. I was in highschool and held to the idea that modern poetry was crap and if it wasn't written by one of the early greats then it isn't worth reading. I was a teenager. I knew everything. I found scurrying through the magazine rack a poetry journal with a few of his poems. I was so blown away by his work that I went right out and bought one of his books. Two years ago I finally got to meet him." Cubicle Reverend
  • "Nothing against the new U.S. Poet Laureate, Donald Hall. I'm sure he's due, well-qualified, palatable to the masses, etc. Alas, there were no worthwhile poets of the other gender available for the position? Any recommendations? And I won't even get into race. So without further ado, for the love of poetry:
    U.S. Poet Laureate Timeline [1937 - 2006 = 36 Men and 8 Women]" amy king.org
  • "Yes! Yes! Donald Hall has defied the odds to be named the new poet laureate of the United States! Hall, dude, you rock!I feel kind of bad for Oates, though." The At Largee Blog
  • "Donald Hall is one of the better poets around, and certainly rises above the mediocre ranks of the established names. His lyrical style is quite sharp and straightforward, and he's superbly economical (the white space on the page plays a big role in many Donald Hall poems). His voice is never flowery or airy, but neither does he indulge in sweaty vulgarity like many poets who fear being flowery or airy." metaxucafe
  • "Hall's poetry just doesn't grab me. A Poet at Twenty really doesn't do much for me, I'm afraid. In fact, I downright dislike it. An Old Life, I get, though it still doesn't really sing to me. I get The Man in the Dead Machine, and no, not because it's about an airplane! It's not just any airplane, incidently. It's a Hellcat. Nonetheless, it still doesn't hit me where I think I should feel poetry. Where is Keats when you need him? What's happened to Yeats? Maybe I'm just spoiled by collected poetry going back (for me, at least) to John Donne, but I'm really not so sure of Hall's poetry. Anybody find his poetry arresting? Please tell me about it." Mojave Jack
  • "I'm sure many of you have heard this already but I just found out that the new poet laureate is Donald Hall. I'm sure Robert Bly is thrilled..." Steve's House of Love
  • "- an exponential improvement over his prairie predecessor." The Elegant Variation

There you have it... some good, bad and indifferent.

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