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The onset of Jane Kenyon's leukemia


1993 - A busy year
Donald Hall Poet
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The year of 1993, the year after my liver operation, was the busiest year of our marriage. It wasn't the best... probably the best year of our marriage would be the year in which we would remember the least... we'd just have the routine of working together all day. But 1993 was fine.  It began with trips to read our poems together - by this time we were reading our poems together.  And then, Bill Moyers came to the house and interviewed both of us, and that was the end of January - January 30th or something, 1993 - to... to make an hour long programme for the public broadcasting system, about us and our work and our life together. One of the themes there, was... oh, the imminence of my death, it was in the... in the content or the shape of the show, as they finally brought it out.  You know they did about 35 hours to get 56 minutes or whatever, and they... they shaped it very well.  And that year... oh, because I'd been sick the year before, I kept getting anticipatory funerals, as it were. There were tributes to me... AWP Associated Writing Programs had a big one in Norfolk where Jane and other people talked about me and so on, and then the University of Michigan, where I had taught, gave me an honorary degree.  It was all sort of - we took it lightly - these... these funerals, but they were more occasions for travel and talk with friends. In the... I guess it was the end of August... we went back to India for a year.  We had been to India for the State Department, reading poems.

[Q] For a month... for a month?

Yeah... but we had been there two years before - was it two years? - I think it was '91 and '93, the two trips to India.  And we loved India and I think Jane in particular was spectacularly popular there, with her... very... many very spiritual poems. And each time we spent about a month, and we'd spend two days in a city and then fly to another one, and talk more. We were very busy, but we had time to walk in the markets and talk to people, but mostly... we were interviewed by journalists in the morning and then would have a meeting with maybe some academics or students - ten in the morning - have a little time off and then there'd be an afternoon reading or lecture, and a dinner scheduled for eight, but really being served about ten.  And we... we loved the country... we had a great time. Earlier, the State Department had sent us to China and Japan, way back in 1986, and we had a wonderful time in... in China at that time in particular, but these trips to India were the most spectacular trips that we had.  So in that last good year - 1993 - we had a year there... we both had books out and we had a kind of mini tour together - going to various cities and reading together and doing radio work and so on - very busy... very busy time.

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: Norfolk, Associated Writing Programs, University of Michigan, India, US State Department, China, Japan, Bill Moyers, Jane Kenyon

Duration: 3 minutes, 31 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008