Jul. 18th, 2018

sravakavarn: (Default)
So I was listening to podcast feed today and a memorial episode of Poetry Out Loud on way from driving K. to the airport to visit her friend in Rhode Island. It made me sad. Donald Hall met me during my MFA. I was assigned to take him to dinner with a few female colleagues, and the fancy eatery we normally took visiting poets to was closed, so we took him to a Ruby Tuesdays. I had met Robert Bly, a man I linked to Hall, and he had been imperious and not particularly helpful. Hall was not--he was a man of his generation to be sure and was flirtatious with the women with us but I asked them later if he was creepy and all said no. That was the worse thing I could say about him. He acted like a grandfather and a farmer but spoke to me about interviewing Erza Pound for the Paris review in his last days and what it was like to try to find your voice again after losing loved ones, he made jokes about aging and about his ease in bruising, about younger poets that he thought were promising, and about the poets he had met on our campus. He talked about French onion soup. He didn't do the gossip I often hear from MFA-centric poets, but he wasn't a professor anymore anyway. So I was legitimately sad when he died even though his life was long and he was largely solitary in the last decade apparently. What was interesting about this is that I never loved Hall's work before that--I thought of him as kind of an American Seamus Heaney but without the formalism. A remnant of mid-century New England poetry that barely fit in our time. Yet after meeting him, his late poetry in particular really resonated with me. It was refreshingly honest and quite dark but without cynicism or ingratitude.

Check him out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlSgwNowWzE

October 2018

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