Biography (Critical Survey of Poetry: American Poets)
Jane Kenyon grew up on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, Michigan, on a rural road across from a working farm, which instilled in her a love for country living and gardening. The household was alive with music, which nurtured Kenyon’s lifelong love for all musical forms. Kenyon’s father, Reuel Kenyon, was a jazz musician who had toured Europe before returning to the United States during the Depression era to play nightclubs. At one such club, he met Pauline, an eighteen-year-old nightclub singer. After marrying, they settled down near Ann Arbor, taking their love of and talent for music with them. In addition to playing clubs, Reuel started teaching piano. When Jane’s older brother, Reuel, Jr., was born, her mother, a skilled seamstress, began taking in commissioned work and providing sewing lessons. Music still dominated the house. Two upright pianos stood in the living room; a large phonograph stood in the hallway. Jane fell asleep at night listening to the strains of classical music drifting up to her second-story bedroom.
Jane Kenyon attended a rural, one-room schoolhouse (with only three other children in her grade level) from kindergarten through the fourth grade. In the fifth grade, she began riding a bus to a large Ann Arbor school. Nearly nine hundred students were in her graduating high school class. The greatest influences on her development during her school years were her relationship with her grandmother, Dora Kenyon, the subject of several...
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and raised on the outskirts of town, Jane Kenyon lived on a dirt road across from a farm and attended a one-room school until the fifth grade. Kenyon started to write poetry in junior high school and continued writing in college, winning a Hopwood Award while attending the University of Michigan. Majoring in English, she earned her B.A. in 1970 and her M.A. in 1972.
Kenyon’s poetry and life were largely shaped around her marriage with the poet Donald Hall. They met in 1969 when he was teaching at the University of Michigan. Hall began courting Kenyon in 1971, and they married in 1972. In 1975 Hall resigned from Michigan, where he had taught since 1957, and Kenyon and Hall moved to Eagle Pond Farm, a Wilmot, New Hampshire, farm settled by Hall’s great-grandfather.
Kenyon’s first book, From Room to Room, was published in 1978 by Alice James Press, the New England poetry cooperative of which Kenyon was a member. She founded and coedited a poetry magazine (Green House) from 1976 to 1980 and served on the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. She was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1992 and a PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry in 1994. She and Hall were featured in the Emmy Award-winning television special A Life Together, hosted by Bill Moyers. At the time of her death, she was the poet laureate of New Hampshire.
By her own admission, Kenyon “didn’t really...
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When Jane Kenyon died from leukemia on April 23, 1995, one month short of her 48th birthday, she had lived nearly twenty years in rural Wilmot, New Hampshire, with her husband, poet Donald Hall. “Eagle Pond” had been the home of Hall’s family for generations, and it became the setting from which her mature poetry emerged. The farmhouse and countryside around Wilmot reminded Kenyon of her Michigan childhood before its landscape became paved over and subdivided: “The move to New Hampshire was a restoration of a kind of paradise,” she told an interviewer.
Kenyon was born on May 23, 1947, and grew up in an old house “crowded with pictures, books, and music” on the rural outskirts of Ann Arbor, Michigan, home of the University of Michigan. Her parents were freelancers, according to Donald Hall’s afterword in Otherwise. Reuel Kenyon was a jazz pianist, and Polly Kenyon a singer, seamstress, and sewing teacher. Jane attended a oneroom country school until the fifth grade, and thereafter walked two miles along gravel roads to the annexed Foster School, Ann Arbor Township, No. 16 Fractional. In an interview with Bill Moyers, Kenyon speculates that “growing up in the country far from friends made me an inward child,” and a lover of the natural world. This love and capacity for solitude rings dominant both in her poetry and in A Hundred White Daffodils (1999), a posthumous collection of Kenyon’s miscellaneous prose, interviews,...
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Jane Kenyon was born May 23, 1947, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Kenyon eventually attended her hometown university, the University of Michigan, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1970 and a master’s in 1972. While at Michigan, she was a student of renowned poet, editor, and teacher Donald Hall, with whom she developed a personal relationship throughout the course of her studies. Kenyon and Hall married the same year she received her master’s degree.
Her marriage and subsequent move to Eagle Pond Farm in New Hampshire—owned by the Hall family for generations—were the impetus behind Kenyon becoming a published poet. Her first book of poems, From Room to Room, published in 1978, chronicles the experience of living in her new home, and many of the poems reflect a speaker alone in the house, staring out a window, trying to write. Her work in this volume is primarily domestic and pastoral, although the intriguing imagery for which she would later become recognized is already evident here. Kenyon’s second and third books, The Boat of Quiet Hours (1986) and Let Evening Come (1990), explore darker themes, most significantly, death, illness, and depression. During the period these poems were penned, her husband was diagnosed with cancer (which he survived) and she was in the midst of her own battle with severe depression. The fourth and final book of poems published during her lifetime, Constance (1993) contains even more references...
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