a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Editing New Poets of England and America


The critical response to my first book
Donald Hall Poet
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

When I published that book, it had a remarkable response, and a response that it did not deserve, and whenever that happens, then you get knocked down for it later.  It wasn't that good a book, but people were looking... the magazines... the magazines of criticism were looking for the new poet.  This was 1955, and seven years earlier they'd had Robert Lowell, Richard Wilbur, but they hadn't trumpeted anybody for a while.  And it came out, and oh, it won a prize, and it was listed for the National Book Award, which is ridiculous really, and it was reviewed in the Sunday Times Book Review, the Daily Times Book Review, the Sunday Herald Tribune Book Review, and... and daily, and every magazine. Many more magazines reviewed poetry at that time. There was much less poetry published, but much more was reviewed, and reviewed by more competent people - it's curious, there's been an enormous explosion of the numbers of titles over the last 50 years, and the numbers of books sold - certainly the numbers of people trying to be poets - but the amount of response, critical response has diminished.  The... the reason - this is just a little insert - why... why there would be so little response, but so much more sales, is the poetry reading.  That is how people find out now, that wasn't going on in 1955... very little.  And anyway, they'd had a tremendous amount of response, and the first wave of reviews in the daily's, and the weekly's and the monthly's was highly positive, and then about a year later the quarterly's hit in, and then - they were the old pros, you know - had had time to look at all this prose, and I began to take my lumps, and some of them were actually intelligent lumps, and they called me on things they were right to call me on, and I had... had me walking up and down a lot, thinking about my faults, and that was helpful.

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: National Book Award, Sunday Times Book Review, Daily Times Book Review, Sunday, Herald Tribune Book Review, Robert Lowell, Richard Wilbur

Duration: 2 minutes, 16 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008