Donald Hall Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Donald Hall became well known not only for his poetry but also for his short fiction, his criticism, and his books on the writing of poetry. He has written or edited approximately one hundred anthologies, textbooks, books of poetry, prose, children’s books, criticism, and essays. Their Ancient Glittering Eyes: Remembering Poets and More Poets (1992) brings together interviews with T. S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, and Ezra Pound as well as criticism on twentieth century poets. Life Work (1993) is a collection of essays about the vocation of being a writer and living in a rural area with people who work at hard physical jobs. Death to the Death of Poetry: Essays, Reviews, Notes, Interviews (1994) contains reflective essays on the craft of poetry and criticism. Principal Products of Portugal: Prose Pieces (1995) assembles the prose nonfiction that Hall published in a wide variety of periodicals on Henry Adams, Bob Cousy, Henry Moore, and many other topics. I Am the Dog, I Am the Cat (1994), Lucy’s Christmas (1994), Lucy’s Summer (1995), When Willard Met Babe Ruth (1996), and The Milkman’s Boy (1997) are among his children’s books.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Donald Hall, the son of a successful businessman and grandson of a farmer, was poet laureate of New Hampshire from 1984 to 1989, a recognition he regarded with bemused pride. His poem “Exile” won the Newdigate Prize of the University of Oxford in 1952. In 1955, his first book, Exiles and Marriages, announced his arrival as a new voice in poetry and was named the Lamont Poetry Selection (now known as the James Laughlin Award) by the Academy of American Poets. Over the next several decades, Hall continued to win praise for his poetry and many other kinds of books, including more than one hundred anthologies, textbooks, children’s books, and books of poetry, prose, criticism, and essays. Among the honors accorded him are the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize in 1987 for The Happy Man, the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1988 for The One Day, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 1989 for The One Day, the Bernard F. Conners Prize for Poetry from the Paris Review in 1991, the Frost Medal in 1991, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize in 1994, and the Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry from Sewanee Review in 2009. In 2006-2007, Hall served as the poet laureate consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress. Hall’s children’s book The Ox-Cart Man (1979) won a Caldecott Medal. Among the magazines and journals that have published Hall’s verse are The New Yorker, Iowa Review, The Atlantic, American Poetry Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review. Hall’s poetry has received generally positive criticism.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Davie, Donald. “Frost, Eliot, Thomas, Pound.” Review of Remembering Poets. The New York Times Book Review, February 19, 1978, p. 15. Reviews Hall’s book and discusses his notion of the poet in contemporary culture. Praises him for humanizing the poetic endeavor, but takes issue with some evaluations.

Gilbert, Roger. “Whiz Kids at Eighty, Part 1.” Review of White Apples and the Taste of Stone, by Donald Hall, and My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy, by Robert Bly. Michigan Quarterly Review 47, no. 1 (Winter, 2008): 112-132. In this review, Gilbert looks at the works of the two poets, examining their evolution and placing them in their historical context. Part 2 (published in the same journal’s Summer, 2008, issue) is a review of books by John Ashbery and Adrienne Rich. This is a look at four poets who spent a lot of time together in Boston in the years following World War II. Though their styles vary wildly, they shared in the inauguration of a new era of American poetry.

Hall, Donald. “Donald Hall.” Interview by David McDonald. American Poetry Review 1 (January/February, 2002): 17-23. Hall talks at length about his life in poetry, his tireless promotion of his contemporaries, the influences of other poets on his writing, and the importance of sound, among other things, in this interview....

(The entire section is 489 words.)