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Enjoying Oxford


Arriving at Christ Church College, Oxford
Donald Hall Poet
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Then I went up to Oxford, and took the train up to the town, and asked the taxi driver to take me to Christ Church.  And when I arrived at Tom Tower, there were two gentlemen, as I thought, dressed all in black, with black bowlers on, who immediately grabbed my suitcases. And... they were elderly folks, and I thought, no, I should carry the suitcases. I didn't know the rules. It took me a long time to learn the rules. They did take me to my rooms... Meadow Buildings four, overlooking Christ Church meadows, and when I got into my room, the young man... a man older than me, quite young looking... came to me and said, 'Good afternoon sir, I am your servant, sir'. And again, I wanted to say, 'No, you're not, take it back, don't say that'. I'd never been out of the United States, and of course, Oxford... this was England of 1951, which was already changing considerably, but Oxford less than other places, and Christ Church less than the rest of Oxford, so that it was still kind of holding on to the... the Brideshead mode or model at that time.  And... oh, I made all sorts of social errors, but I came to love Oxford also, and to have a wonderful time there.

The 14th US Poet Laureate Donald Hall (1928-2018) was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, then earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard in 1951 and a BLitt, from Oxford in 1953. He published many essays and anthologies of both poetry and prose including String too Short to be Saved: Recollections of Summers on a New England Farm, White Apples and the Taste of Stone, Without: Poems, and Ox-Cart Man, a children's book which won the Caldecott Medal. Hall was editor of the magazine Oxford Poetry, literary editor of Isis, editor of New Poems, and poetry editor of The Paris Review. He won many awards, including two Guggenheim Fellowships and a Robert Frost Medal. At the end of his first Oxford year, he also won the university's Newdigate Prize, awarded for his poem Exile.

Listeners: Kendel Currier

Kendel Currier started working for Donald Hall in August of 1994 as his correspondence typist. Later she took on his manuscript typing as well, and in October of 1998 moved 100 meters down the road from Donald and became his personal assistant, adding many various new tasks to her work. As well as working for Donald for the last 10 and-a-half years, Donald Hall and Kendel Currier share a set of great (or for Kendel great-great) grandparents, making them distant cousins and part of a similar New Hampshire heritage.

Tags: University of Oxford, Christ Church, Meadow Building, United States, England, Brideshead

Duration: 1 minute, 32 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008