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The life of a freelancer


Life and work in New Hampshire and a second marriage ceremony
Donald Hall Poet
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We lived a life here without parties... there are no parties in New Hampshire, it's against the law. No dinner parties, no cocktail parties, and we had our friends, and saw people... people came to see us on our weekends. When we were first here, lots of people came up from New York and all over the place to check us out. I mean we were doing this weird thing, and they wanted to see what it was like.  So a lot of people spent the one night in their life in an unheated house, you know, and people would say, 'It's really beautiful here... it's really... what do you do?'. We didn't have any problem doing, you know... we.. we read books and we read each other, and at supper. I said we were very unromantic lovers... and after being here for a little while, there was candlelit dinners, and... and they were... we were... five years after we were married in a judge's chambers in Ann Arbor, we were married again informally by our minister in the church that we went to. He came over on the Saturday afternoon which was the actual anniversary of the wedding and brought three glasses and a half bottle of wine, and some flowers and read through the ceremony, and we had become romantic lovers after all those years. But, in order to make a living I was writing all sorts of things... poetry always came first and I never shirked the possibility of a poem to write a magazine piece, but man, did I write magazine pieces... I did everything... I've written manuscripts for publishers for money. I edited poetry for a couple of magazines, for a pittance, and I wrote, you know, book reviews for any place that would ask me, pretty much. There's a magazine called Ford Times, which is sent to owners of Ford cars... I managed to write them an article about Gertrude Stein's love for Ford cars.  All that's a matter of sort of half a day of looking through Gertrude Stein biographies and then whipping up 500 words or something like that, for $500. I wrote for Yankee Magazine, and I would... after a while, the editors began to call me, instead of me going to the editors, and I could pick and choose. I wrote alot about baseball, I wrote about New Hampshire, I wrote alot of poetry... a lot, and I got to the point where I could collect all my poetry pieces and publish a little collection of poetry essays, or I could... I collected my baseball pieces in... in one book, and collected New Hampshire pieces in others and so on, so that the trick of being a freelancer is to sell everything twice, you know. And another thing that was supporting us very much, was the poetry reading. That is a source of income for poets that was never there until 45 years ago, that is now common and I have probably made, I don't know, 25 or 30% of my income on the poetry reading.

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: New Hampshire, New York, Ann Arbor, Ford Times, Yankee Magazine, Gertrude Stein

Duration: 3 minutes, 37 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008