Friday, June 16, 2006

Donald Hall

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.

This is from By Arthur Allen:

In “Affirmation,” one of dozens of poems written to or about his late wife, Hall mourns her disappearance, abandons her garden, yet cannot help but finish with cosmic distance,

Let us stifle under mud at the pond’s edge
and affirm that it is fitting
and delicious to lose everything.

Hall is often considered a nature poet, but his eyes have seen much more than the ducks on Eagle Pond (his personal Walden). For example, the pain of a divorce in “Shrubs Burned Away”:

My daughter curled in my lap, wailing and red,

six years old. My fifteen-year-old son’s long legs,
writhed from a chair as tears fell on his spectacles.
Their mother was leaving them . . . I was leaving them.
Their muscles contracted knees to chin,
as I watched from my distance.
And their limbs twitched and jerked in the velvet room.

Esteemed rock critic Greil Marcus chose Hall’s 1988 poem “The One Day” for his Top 10 list of rock ’n’ roll moments:

Your children will wander looting the shopping malls
for forty years, suffering for your idleness
until the last dwarf body rots in a parking lot.

His book "Without" is essential poetry reading. This is from that book about his late wife Jane Kenyon's illness:

When the infusions are infused entirely,
bone marrow restored and lymphoblasts remitted,
I will take my wife, bald as Michael Jordan,
back to our dog and day.

That book is guarenteed to make you cry. I reread it when my father was dying and couldn't believe how painful, plain and apt his writing was. Succint as well. If only I could write that well. Maybe one day.... To get the pain in just the right amount, by not overstating anything, is a tremendous skill.

1 comment:

  1. I think I was connected to Lauren's blog from your blog - so you might already have seen this amazingly sensual poem by Jane Kenyon.

    Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon will certainly be my next books of poetry...