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Introduction to The Man in the Dead Machine


Poetry readings: Mount Kearsarge
Donald Hall Poet
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Mount Kearsarge.  This is a hill that is visible from the front of my house, our house - both Jane and I wrote about it a great deal. This poem I wrote before I knew Jane, and before I knew I would be able to live in this New Hampshire house. I had spent my summers here as a kid, and I loved it, but when I came back in the summer to see my grandmother, pretty much knowing that I could never live here - I felt angry. This is a poem from that time:

Great blue mountain! Ghost.

I look at you

from the porch of the farmhouse

where I watched you all summer

as a boy. Steep sides, narrow flat

patch on top –

you are clear to me

like the memory of one day.

Blue! Blue!

The top of the mountain floats

in haze.

I will not rock on this porch

when I am old. I turn my back on you,

Kearsarge, I close

my eyes, and you rise inside me,

blue ghost.

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: Mount Kearsarge, New Hampshire

Duration: 1 minute, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008