Wednesday, August 27, 2008

80th Birthday Reception for Poet Donald Hall

New Hampshire resident and New England poet Donald Hall co-sponsors a literary series at Plymouth State University (Plymouth, NH), and the university is throwing a birthday salute for his 80th birthday.

The timing is perfect, because Hall's new memoir is being released on September 2, and the event at Plymouth State is on Thursday September 18 at 7 p.m. Tickets are free but call to reserve your seats: 603-535-ARTS. The evening will include a reading from the new book, time for having the books signed, and a festive reception.

I haven't yet seen the book, UNPACKING THE BOXES: A MEMOIR OF A LIFE IN POETRY, but I look forward to reading and reviewing it. Meanwhile, here's the book description from the publisher:

Donald Hall's remarkable life in poetry -- a career capped by his appointment as U.S. poet laureate in 2006 -- comes alive in this richly detailed, self-revealing memoir.

Donald Hall's invaluable record of the making of a poet begins with his childhood in Depression-era suburban Connecticut, where he first realized poetry was "secret, dangerous, wicked, and delicious," and ends with what he calls "the planet of antiquity," punctuated by his appointment as poet laureate of the United States.

Hall writes eloquently of the poetry and books that moved and formed him as a child and young man, and of adolescent efforts at poetry writing -- an endeavor he wryly describes as more hormonal than artistic. His painful, formative days at Exeter are followed by a poetic self-liberation of sorts at Harvard, where he met lifelong friends Robert Bly, Adrienne Rich, and George Plimpton. Then he is off to Oxford, where the heady friendships and rampant poetry careerism of the postwar university scene are brilliantly captured.

At eighty, Hall is as painstakingly honest about his failures and low points as a poet, writer, lover, and father as he is about his successes, making Unpacking the Boxes -- his first book since being named poet laureate --
both revelatory and tremendously poignant.

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