Synopses & Reviews
Donald Hall's invaluable record of the making of a poet begins with his childhood in Depression-era suburban Connecticut, where as the doted-upon son of dramatically thwarted parents he first realized poetry was "secret, dangerous, wicked, and delicious." Hall eloquently writes of the poetry and books that moved and formed him as a child and young man, and of adolescent efforts at poetry writingan 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 and in the post-war university scene at Oxford.
After a failed first marriage Hall meets and marries Jane Kenyon, and the two poets return to Eagle Pond. Fittingly, the family home that loomed large in Hall's childhood is where he grows old, and at eighty learns finally "to live in the momentas you have been told to do all your life."
Unpacking the Boxes is a revelatory and tremendously poignant memoir of one man's life in poetry.
Donald Halls 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.
Halls 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,” a time of life dramatically 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, where he was sent like a naive lamb to a high WASP academic slaughter, are followed by a poetic self-liberation of sorts at Harvard. Here he rubs elbows with Frank OHara, John Ashbery, and Edward Gorey, and begins lifelong friendships with Robert Bly, Adrienne Rich, and George Plimpton. After Harvard, Hall is off to Oxford, where the high spirits 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.
About the Author
DONALD HALL, poet laureate of the United States from 2006 to 2007, is author of String Too Short to Be Saved and more than a dozen other works of prose and poetry. His many awards include the National Medal of Arts, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry, and the 1990 Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.