Thursday, June 15, 2006

Donald Hall interview

Donald Hall, the new poet laureate, sat for an interview with The Paris Review. (Actually, he sat for three separate interviews, published as one in 1991.) It's wonderful stuff: click here to read the entire interview.

Hall talks about how he became a poet, how encouragement--and discouragement--shaped his poetry in high school, and offers a brief warts-and-all portrait of Robert Frost, with whom he is sometimes compared.

He sometimes writes about baseball and has spent time among professional athletes. "Mostly, athletes are quick-witted and funny,' Hall says, "with maybe a ten-second attention span."

Hall was The Paris Review's first poetry editor (1953–1961), and he talks about his own Paris Review interviews with T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound ("He spoke with a melody that made him sound like W.C. Fields."), and Marianne Moore.

Once, he says, "I rejected a good poem by Allen Ginsberg, who wrote George Plimpton saying that I wouldn't recognize a poem if it buggered me in broad daylight."

Above left is a manuscript page from Hall's poem "Baseball."

--Marshal Zeringue