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Life at Eagle Pond: The Poetry of Jane Kenyon and Donald Hall

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995) was born in Ann Arbor and graduated from the University of Michigan. She is the author of From Room to Room, The Boat of Quiet Hours, Let Evening Come, and Constance, and has translated the poetry of Anna Akhmatova. In April 1996, Graywolf Press published a collection of Kenyon’s poetry, Otherwise: New and Selected Poems. She was the recipient of the PEN Voelcker Award, the New Hampshire Writers and Publishers Project Outstanding Achievement in Poetry Award, and in January 1995 was appointed New Hampshire Poet Laureate.

Donald Hall was born in 1928 in Hamden, Connecticut, attended Phillips Exeter and Harvard University, and taught for many years at the University of Michigan. He is the author of eleven books of poetry (including The One Day, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Museum of Clear Ideas, nominated for the National Book Award), numerous essay collections (including String Too Short To Be Saved, the Eagle Pond books, and Life Work), children’s books (including the award-winning Ox-Cart Man), and textbooks. He was Poet Laureate of New Hampshire from 1984-1989.

In 1975, the couple moved to Eagle Pond Farm in Wilmot, New Hampshire. The ties with Hall’s family past and the sense of belonging to a community that accompanied the move had a deepening effect upon their lives and work. For Hall, who spent his childhood summers and wrote his first poetry there, it was both a coming home and a “coming home to the place of language.” Kenyon found in the rural New England landscape a subject that allowed her to express her own inner world. As Charles Simic observes, “Kenyon’s country is both our rural New Hampshire and her inwardness in which we all recognize ourselves.”

Kenyon and Hall were the subject of Bill Moyers’ celebrated program A Life Together, broadcast on Public Television in December 1993.

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