Donald Hall turns 80 this month, and the public is invited to help him commemorate the anniversary.
The Plymouth State University Eagle Pond Authors’ Series (EAPS) will honor Hall on the occasion of his birthday, and celebrate publication of his newest book at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 18, at the Silver Center on Main Street in Plymouth.
Hall will read from his just-published autobiography, Unpacking the Boxes: A Memoir of a Life in Poetry. A book signing and reception will follow.
Unpacking the Boxes chronicles Hall’s life from his childhood, through Harvard and Oxford; to his youth with contemporaries Adrienne Rich, Robert Bly, Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery; to much more of his rich life through today.
Hall wrote, “At fourteen, I decided to spend my life writing poetry, which is what I have done. My parents supported my desire, or at least did not attempt to dissuade me. My father hated his work, and it was his passion that I should do what I wanted to do.”
The germ of the chronicle grew from Hall’s experience unpacking the 70 to 80 boxes stored at the farm after his mother’s death. He wrote, “… From other boxes my childhood rose like a smoke of moths … For weeks I unpacked the boxes, releasing the beginning decades of a life that was concluding its seventh … The unpacked boxes laid out my childhood and adolescence as if they assembled a model train, Lionel Standard Gauge, complete with a miniature village set beside the tracks, a hill for the train to tunnel through, a semaphore, mirror glass for a pond.”
At 80, 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 both revelatory and poignant.
Publishers Weekly described Hall’s new work as “… a likable new memoir by the prolific and plainspoken former U.S. poet laureate. The memoir’s last segment is by far its most affecting: the afflictions of grief and of old age—a stroke, trouble driving and walking, a scary manic episode—join up with the pleasure and ironies of late-life fame,” said the publication.
Hall, who was U.S. poet laureate in 2006, has long been a friend to PSU and helped to develop and implement the EAPS. The series is named for Eagle Pond Farm in Wilmot, a family homestead which has inspired much of his writing. Hall presented the inaugural reading in 1998.
In 1980 Plymouth State University awarded Hall his first honorary degree, and in 1997 the University’s alumni selected him as the recipient of their prestigious Robert Frost Contemporary American Award. He was New Hampshire poet laureate from 1984–1989.
There is no charge for admission to the reading, but free tickets are required, and advance reservation is recommended. Call the Silver Center Box Office at (603) 535-ARTS or (800) 779-3869.
The next reader in the Series will be Lucie Brock-Brodio,
September 26,7 p.m.
The Eagle Pond Authors’ Series is presented by the Silver Center for the Arts and is supported by a generous grant from the Plymouth State University Bookstore and Follett Higher Education Group.
For general information about events at PSU, log on to ThisWeek@PSU at http://thisweek.blogs.plymouth.edu/.
For information about the release contact Betsy Cheney at (603) 535-2276.