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First grandchildren and discovering I had cancer


Discussing mine and Jane's various poems
Donald Hall Poet
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I went on to... to write... I more or less finished two books while she was alive, but they... they were long poems often... assemblages. There's a long one called, Baseball, which is nine parts, called, nine innings, naturally, each of nine stanzas, and each stanza of nine lines, and each line of nine syllables just a... an awkward or funny exo skeleton on which I could hang everything I ever knew... everything I‘ve ever found out about. There was also a book of pseudo translations of Horace - a first book of Odes - where I kinda invented a character I called Horace Horsecollar, who was a minor cartoon character in Disney cartoons, way, way back and Horace Horsecollar was thinking he was translating Horace but when Horace talked about Mercury, Horace Horsecollar thought he was talking about a General Motors automobile, so, but it allowed me all sorts of opportunities for...  It was another kind of exoskeleton... that... into which I could pour all sorts of concerns - political and personal concerns, and ironies.  It became the title poem or collection of a book called, The Museum of Clear Ideas - that was the Horace stuff, which included Baseball and others. Meantime the... private life went on - Jane had her struggles with depression and with occasional mania. She just sweated it out day after day. She wrote a wonderful poem... a long poem called Having it Out with Melancholy, which was her major attack on depression, and other poems included moments of ecstatic happiness - very bipolar.  And when she wrote Having it Out with Melancholy, she had to fight against her own sense of shame, of making public her mental problems, but at the same time, she knew that if she did it, it would help other people.  And I'll never forget the first time she read it aloud.  There's a Robert... old Robert Frost house, in Franconia, New Hampshire where she did a reading, and she read it, and afterwards there were 20 or 30 people lined up to talk to her who were themselves depressives or from the families of depressives and were thanking her for bringing it out, and talking about it.

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: Baseball, Odes, General Motors, The Museum of Clear Ideas, Having it Out with Melancholy, Franconia, New Hampshire, Horace, Walt Disney, Mercury, Jane Kenyon, Robert Frost

Duration: 2 minutes, 48 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008