Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Truth And Power: Librarian Of Congress Mistakenly To Name Donald Hall As 14th National Poet Laureate

"The head of the Library of Congress is to name Donald Hall, a writer whose deceptively simple language builds on images of the New England landscape, as the nation's 14th poet laureate today.

Mr. Hall, a poet in the distinctive American tradition of Robert Frost, has also been a harsh critic of the religious right's influence on government arts policy. And as a member of the advisory council of the National Endowment for the Arts during the administration of George H. W. Bush, he referred to those he thought were interfering with arts grants as "bullies and art bashers."

He will succeed Ted Kooser, the Nebraskan who has been the poet laureate since 2004.

The announcement of Mr. Hall's appointment is to be made by James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress. Mr. Billington said that he chose Mr. Hall because of "the sustained quality of his poetry, the reach and variety of things he talks about." Like Mr. Kooser, Mr. Billington said, Mr. Hall "evokes a sense of place."

Mr. Billington said that he was not aware of Mr. Hall's bluntness as a member of the national endowment's advisory council, but added that the laureates "are chosen for their poetry, not chosen to make a statement about anything else."

Mr. Hall, 77, lives in a white clapboard farmhouse in Wilmot, N.H., that has been in his family for generations. He said in a telephone interview that he didn't see the poet laureateship as a bully pulpit. "But it's a pulpit anyway," he said. "If I see First Amendment violations, I will speak up."

As for the rest of the job, "I have a terrible miscellany of thoughts," he said." ...

Dinitia Smith "Outspoken New Englander Is New Poet Laureate" New York Times June 14, 2006

Also see the story in the Washington Post.

Donald Hall and his late wife, the American poet Jane Kenyon

Photo credit: University of New Hampshire. With thanks. exhibits/kenhall/


Selected poems of Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon.


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