The Blog Squad

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Laurels for the poet

Today, Donald Hall was named the U.S. poet laureate. As a former English major who has a big thing for sonnets, I like it when poetry makes the news.

Hall, 77, lives in New Hampshire and is best known for his poems dealing with the loss of his wife, poet Jane Kenyon, who died from leukemia a decade ago. I plan to select a book or two to read this summer. Ron Smith, a Richmond poet and teacher at St. Christopher's School, had this to say about Hall:

"Donald Hall has been part of the furniture of my mind as far back as high school. He has dedicated his long life to poetry -- a downright heroic achievement in America these days. He has edited more books, I'll bet, than some 'educated' people have read. He has a sharp eye and a deep well of compassion. His attitude toward poets in the academy is instructively wary, and many of his poems are simply unforgettable. I think of 'My Son My Executioner,' 'Ox Cart Man,' 'Names of Horses,' 'Kicking the Leaves,' and many others. Poet Laureate? This is the first I've heard of it. What I say is Congratulations. Well-deserved."

Virginia has a proud heritage of fine poets: former U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove, 2006 Weinstein Poetry Prize winner George Garret (both with ties to the University of Virginia) and Pulitzer Prize winner Claudia Emerson (a professor at University of Mary Washington, my alma mater). And there are many more that I'm sure I'm leaving out.

This is a recording of Hall reading "Mount Kearsage," one of his poems.


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