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Routine in New Hampshire


First winter in New Hampshire and writing a book about Dock Ellis
Donald Hall Poet
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We were so happy here... to be here... and it was terribly cold that January - the January of '76 - it was 38 below zero Fahrenheit on the... on the porch and we had no... no double windows, no insulation of any kind, and we had that wood stove.  And to make love we would just pull blankets and pillows next to the stove right there, and we would... to... to go to bed... we did have something the old people didn't have... we had electric blankets, they had hot water bottles, we had electric blankets. I would dash into the sub zero bedroom and turn on the blankets for half an hour, and then we would dash in, and Jane would just get totally under... totally under, but the blanket was pretty warm.  And I wanted to read while going to sleep so I learnt to read with a cheap paperback book that I could hold in one hand and read, and then when this hand became insufferable, I'd move to the other hand and warm up the other one, so that I could read enough to go to sleep. We had a wonderful time and we wrote.  We had to write in one room, the first... I mean, during the worst of it. I was writing a book about a baseball player named Dock Ellis, by that time. He's a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he's from Los Angeles, and he came up to look over the manuscript that winter, on a day when it was warm, it was about 18 below probably, warmed up from 38 below and he had never, never experienced anything like it. He spent the night in the unheated parlour, wearing a fur hat, and fur boots. He came out of the room in the morning, and said, 'I am never going to spend another night in that room', and we got through the book quickly. He flew back the same day.

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: Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles, Dock Ellis, Jane Kenyon

Duration: 2 minutes

Date story recorded: January 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008