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String Too Short to Be Saved and interviewing TS Eliot


Getting the money together to go to England: meeting Henry Moore
Donald Hall Poet
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Before going over to try to have enough money to live on for the year, I had written everybody I knew who might have a job to give to try to raise money.  And Richard Wilbur gave me the task of doing an edition of... of John Greenleaf Whittier for a paperback.  So I wrote an essay on Whittier, and picked the poems - and that was 600 bucks.  And then George Plimpton, who's Paris Review was thriving, had been commissioned by another magazine to produce the kind of interviews that the Paris Review does, so he got me interviews at $400 each, with Archibald MacLeish, which I did before going to England, and with John Gielgud, who wouldn't see me, and with Henry Moore.  And Henry Moore is a wonderful sculptor, but he's a dear, gregarious man, who doesn't really like to say no very much, and so he agreed to meet me in Bishops Stortford, which was about seven miles from his house, and I found a bus which would take me to Bishops Stortford, and he picked me up and took me to tea, and we talked and then he... he decided that he would let me interview him, and so I spent several days with him. We played ping pong together and he came to... he and his wife came to dinner at our house... I just... I don't know how many days I spent with him that year, but I really liked him.  And when I left that year I said, 'If I could ever find a way to write more about you, would that be ok?', and he said, 'Yes'.  So three years later I wrote a New Yorker profile.

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: Paris Review, England, Bishops Stortford, The New Yorker, Richard Wilbur, John Greenleaf Whittier, George Plimpton, Archibald MacLeish, John Gielgud, Henry Moore

Duration: 1 minute, 49 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008