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Getting a teaching job at the University of Michigan

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Poetry Editor at The Paris Review
Donald Hall Poet
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George Plimpton was at Cambridge, and I was at Oxford, and I won the Newdigate, and George, whom I had known a little at Harvard - we had lunch together - we were on different warring magazines at Harvard - I was the literary magazine, and he was the Harvard Lampoon- the humorous magazine.  But we were friendly... know each other well. He came over with his Cambridge college, King's, to play tennis against my college. I was not playing tennis, but, after the match, he wanted to have dinner with me, and we had a bibulous dinner, at Whites, on... oh, on this side of town, and it turned out he had an idea. He, and some friends of his in Paris, Peter Matthiessen, Thomas Ginsberg, Harold Humes, were starting about... talking about starting a magazine, The Paris Review, and he wanted to solicit my Newdigate poem for the first issue. So I gave it to him, and he also wanted me to find some other poems that he could print. None of them... they were all fiction people, and so on... none of them cared anything about poetry. So for that first issue, I published a poem by Robert Bly, which was the first real publication of his, and I think, maybe Adrienne Rich, I did shortly. Second issue was Geoffrey Hill, but also in that first issue, I published a poet called F George Steiner, who is no longer known as F and is no longer known as a poet, and oh, one or two other people. But before the second issue, I was invited to become Poetry Editor of The Paris Review, and it was great fun.  I did it about for about nine years. I was... I was mentioning in connection with the anthology, but the feeling really began with this book - the notion that I was trying to define a generation, or we were - a bunch of us - and that these were to be poets of... in our 20s, and we got older [sic]... but I think it worked very well. The Paris Review became influential, and it is still going now, 52 years later. George died just two years ago, suddenly, unexpectedly. I had talked with him on the phone the day he died, we've stayed in touch.  I was no longer Poetry Editor, but every now and then he had wanted my advice about something or other, but, for nine years I had a happy, combative sense of suppressing stuff I thought was no good, and seeking out stuff I thought was wonderful. I remember one day, when I was in the Society of Fellows, writing letters to two strangers, I had been reading their poems in magazines - James Wright and Louis Simpson, and they both became close friends - they both sent me poems. Louis sent me one and I got him to change one metaphor in it - he never forgot that - and Jim Wright sent me four or five - he was the expansive type - and I probably took three, which I liked very much and which are in his collected poems.  And then I got to know them, and Louis Simpson was one of the anthologists talking about making the book, the New Poets of England and America, and in fact, he knew, I... because of The Paris Review in particular, I knew more of what was going on, both in England and America, than either he or the other editor did, so he brought me in.  And we published this book, and it was reviewed everywhere, the New Poets of England and America. It was the first post-war collection - came out in 1957 - two years after my book of poems, and it was the first attempt to collect a new generation of poets, so it got a great deal of attention.  And then, it got attention as the academic book would for the next 10 years or so with the battle of the anthologies. We, the poets, for the most part, from the two sides of the war, got to be friends and started mingling. I got to know Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder, and lots of the people that were in the other anthology, and we worked together, and in lots of ways our work came more nearly together, finally.

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, University of Cambridge, Newdigate prize, Harvard University, King's College, Whites, Paris, The Paris Review, Society of Fellows, New Poets of England and America, Harvard Lampoon, George Plimpton, Peter Matthiessen, Thomas Ginsberg, Harold Humes, Robert Bly, Adrienne Rich, Geoffrey Hill, F George Steiner, James Wright, Louis Simpson, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder

Duration: 4 minutes, 42 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008