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Working on Without


Letters of condolence and memorials
Donald Hall Poet
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Letters started to come... I had 1500 letters about Jane's death - many from people who had never met her, and... or people who heard her read once, and so on.  And I answered them all, just about all at any rate, everything that had a return address I got an answer from. I got... and then within a... a few weeks, there were four ceremonies in India honoring Jane, where people who had met her there would talk about it and they would play part of the Moyers television tape of Jane and they would read her poems aloud. I did not go to any of them of course, but I heard reports from all of them. And then in the first year there were other memorial occasions for Jane, in New York, and in Boston, and in Minneapolis where her publisher was.  Where else? I think there were other places too, but I cherished all this attention to her. It was a great help to me. It helped me to write letters, to talk about her, thank people for paying attention.  And there were several funds that were set up to honor her for scholarships and prizes and... and things. This was part of my... the way I survived... dealing with that, but the other, and the major way that I survived that first year was by writing Without.

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: India, New York, Boston, Minneapolis, Without, Jane Kenyon, Bill Moyers

Duration: 1 minute, 30 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008