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Major league baseball and writing Fathers Playing Catch with Sons


Falling in love and getting married to Jane Kenyon
Donald Hall Poet
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We started dating, sort of, about a year after the class was over, but I had seen her quite a bit.  And then she... there was a guy... she had a good many boyfriends but only one was sort of serious, and he wanted to marry her, and she was sceptical about marriage with him, but she compromised by going to live with him, and I knew about that, and I didn't see much of her while she was living with him.  But then I began to hear from mutual friends - other people in that class - that they were breaking up, and that Jane was breaking off from him, but that Jane felt miserable about it... no contradiction there. And so I worried about her... I... I cared about her... she was feeling miserable about it, and so I... I called her up and asked her to have dinner or to go to a play, or something or other, and we... we did. And this was 1970, December I think and in 1970 in Ann Arbor, around the college or in many, many places, if you went... if you had dinner with somebody, you pretty much tended to have breakfast with them too, and so we went to bed, and just, friendly, not romantic way. We were never romantic until we'd been married for five years, I think, and we saw each other about once a week, and she always spent the night.  But I had other girlfriends, and she knew I did, and I didn't know whether she did or not, but it would have been alright if she did. I suppose I still don't know, but after a few months of once a week, it...we really had a good time together, and it became twice a week. And then I had to go out to LA on a writing project, and I saw her the night before I left, and she and I wrote letters, and I wasn't doing that with any of the other girls, and I saw her on the night when I got back.  And I began to get worried that I was getting too fond of her and she of me, and we were 19 years apart in age.  Clearly we couldn't stay together, too far apart in age, and I still saw other girls occasionally, maybe out of fear by this point. But... then there was one night when we were having a nightcap before going to bed, and one of my cats came in with a flap of skin loose, and it was scary and we... we were both petrified, and took the cat to an all night veterinarian.  And the cat was sewed up, and it was no problem, and we came back, where we sat there sort of panting with adrenalin and so flowing, and I said, 'Do you think we ought to get married?' I think it was I, and we talked about it, and we sensibly decided that we shouldn't get married, forget about it, because of the 19 years difference, and according to acturial tables, she would be a widow for 25 years - ha! Well we kept on seeing each other, and once or twice again, we broached the subject of marriage, and dismissed it.  And then at Christmas, we had a terrible fight, the worst fight we ever had, and I was afraid we'd broken up... she was afraid we'd broken up, and a day later, when we got back together again, we said we'd better get married. And we were the most unromantic pair, but we really got on terribly well, we loved poetry together, we loved lots of things together, cats, among other things, but we set the date for a time when my son would be home from school, so he could be there. My daughter was still nearby and as we approached the date, both of us were getting terrified. I was breaking up with everybody who was still current with me, and we had lunch I remember the day before the wedding - we could hardly speak - we were both pale, and so on, and we had the wedding in the judge's chambers and sort of came back to the house.

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: Ann Arbor, Los Angeles, Christmas, Jane Kenyon

Duration: 4 minutes, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008