Photo: ©Ken Williams, Concord Monitor
On Thursday October 26th, 1995, three New Hampshire poets gathered to celebrate the life and work of poet Jane Kenyon, who died of leukemia in April that same year. An overflow crowd of 150 gathered in the Forum Room of the University of New Hampshire’s Dimond Library to listen to readings from Kenyon’s husband, poet and writer Donald Hall, UNH poetry professor and 1990 Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Simic, and UNH poetry professor Mekeel McBride.
Mekeel McBride opened with an account of her experience reading Jane Kenyon’s poetry for the first time. She read selected poems from Kenyon’s first two books, From Room to Room and The Boat of Quiet Hours.
Charles Simic followed with an analysis of Kenyon’s poetic powers and read selections from Let Evening Come and Constance.
Donald Hall closed the reading with his personal account of Kenyon’s development as a poet. He mostly read from Kenyon’s unpublished work, all of which is included in a posthumous collection, Otherwise: New and Selected Poems, Graywolf Press. Hall also used the occasion to announce that Kenyon’s papers would come to UNH Special Collections in 1996.
A videotape and audio recording of the entire reading is available for use on-site from UNH Special Collections.
In addition, the following recorded excerpts have been made available for this online exhibit courtesy of the participants:
- The Shirt, read by Mekeel McBride
- Rain in January, read by Mekeel McBride
- Learning in the First Grade, read by Charles Simic
- Climb, read by Charles Simic
- Let Evening Come, read by Charles Simic
- The Sandy Hole, read by Donald Hall
- Three Small Oranges, read by Donald Hall
- Man Eating, read by Donald Hall
Donald Hall, UNH English Department Chairman Michael DePorte, and Mekeel McBride. October 26, 1995. Photographs courtesy of Gary Samson, UNH Photographic Services.