Wild River Review’s Exclusive Interview with Donald Hall — 14th U.S. Poet Laureate
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 28, 2006
Media Contact: Kim Nagy or Joy Stocke
Phone: 609-439-8667 or 609-213-6580
Wild River Review publishes, “Thinking with Muscle and Tongue,” an exclusive interview with Donald Hall who will be inducted October 1, as the 14th Poet Laureate of the United States
SEPTEMBER 28, 2006 (Philadelphia, PA) – In celebration of the Library of Congress’s induction of Donald Hall as the fourteenth Poet Laureate of the United States, Wild River Review correspondent Marylou Kelly Streznewski draws on her personal correspondence with Hall for an intimate and enlightening portrait.
Hall shares his thoughts on a wide range of subjects including poetic form: “It gave me something to count, a rail to hang onto;” his marriage to the poet, Jane Kenyon: “Our friends in Ann Arbor gave us 18 months;” and what young poets read: “My experience of young poets is that most think poetry started in 1976.”
Streznewski captures Hall’s personal thoughts, and includes selections from his early and current works of poetry. Hall’s poems celebrate sensuality, but also pay close attention to human emotion and physical detail through carefully chosen and crafted language.
In White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 1946-2006, an excerpt from “Oh, Camilla, Is It” celebrates Hall’s marriage and collaboration with Kenyon.
Oh Camilla, is it conceivable that
you feel as ardent as I do?”
as horny as seven goats? Camilla, let us hurry
out of these grossly
getting-in-the way clothes onto a wide bed
with its covers hurled off to play skin-music
on bright sheets, slowly increasing the tempo
till Eden comes.
Highly respected and esteemed as a one of the great poets of our time, Hall still receives blows from some critics who pin him as “outspoken,” “unapologetic,” “over zealous” for his insistence on perfect punctuation, and accuracy in language. In addition, he has been labeled the “grim reaper of poetry” for chronicling Kenyon’s illness and death from leukemia.
Though, at times, critics may be harsh, Hall has developed a distinct and colorful voice. He personified the rather dry concepts of rhythm, assonance, and repetition with the terms “milktounge,” “goatfoot,” and “twinbird.”
“We must roll vowels on our tongues, chew on consonants,” says Hall. “We must keep the beat with arm and leg.”
“What is next for the new Poet Laureate?” asks Streznewski. Hall hopes to work closer with NPR and satellite radio to further his poetic and political messages. While he is no stranger to fame he still describes seeing his face in the New York Times as “shocking to be so public.” Although he enjoys the attention his work has received, he still insists that, “poems are the star not poets.”
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