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Publishing String Too Short to be Saved


Working for the BBC and Wednesday drinks in London
Donald Hall Poet
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My wife had adored that village, and the village life. She really wanted to stay, but we couldn't stay then. During that year, I came back with as much money as I left with, because I worked for the BBC a lot too.  And I did The Critics, I think I did The Critics twice.  It was... it was the radio critics, where six critics of different disciplines sat around a table, and improvised a discussion.  It was broadcast every Sunday at noon, and people would run home from church to turn it on. I think we recorded it on a Thursday before.  And I was on with Steven Porter and A Alvarez and... oh, David Sylvester, the art critic, all sorts of people I was glad to be with, and it paid very well, and they repeated it later in the week, and you got exactly double when they repeated it.  And I also did other BBC work... Third Programme work on poets, and... oh, I was an... an American voice in a dramatic production of an American poem - DG Bridson cast me in one programme. Frequently I would go up to London on Wednesday. I'd arrange my BBC dates on Wednesday, because that was the day that John Wayne, the novelist, came in from his house in Reading, and did his literary endeavours, I mean picking up books to review or whatever.  So that a whole bunch of us would gather at the Salisbury, the old pub on St Martin's Lane. It was Wednesday at the Salisbury... John was always there, Ted Hughes came by sometimes, A Alvarez, Peter Redgrove, mostly poets, um... and usually I'd manage to spend two or three hours hanging around with them, and it was fun. Some of them were old friends, some of them were not so friendly, but it was a feature of that year.

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: BBC, The Critics, American, London, Reading, Salisbury, St Martin's Lane, Steven Porter, AAlvarez, David Sylvester, DG Bridson, John Wayne, Ted Hughes, Peter Redgrove

Duration: 2 minutes, 21 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008