The Selected Poems of Donald Hall is the definitive collection, showcasing poems rich with humor and eros and “a kind of simplicity that succeeds in engaging the reader in the first few lines.” --Billy Collins
“However wrenching [Hall’s poems] may be from line to line, they tell a story that is essentially reassuring: art and love are compatible, genius is companionable, and people stand by one another in the end.” --New York Times Book Review
"Alternately lyrical and laugh-out-loud funny."--New York Times
"Deliciously readable . . . Donald Hall, if abandoned by the muse of poetry, has wrought his prose to a keen autumnal edge." -- Wall Street Journal
"Alluring, inspirational hominess . . . Essays After Eighty is a treasure . . . balancing frankness about losses with humor and gratitude." -- Washington Post
"A fine book of remembering all sorts of things past, Essays After Eighty is to be treasured." -- Boston Globe
"For the reader boiling in triple-digit SoCal heat at the end of the summer, Donald Hall's "The Back Chamber: Poems" arrives like a sudden cloudburst and shower of cooling rain. . .A former U.S. poet laureate, Hall has always had this elemental power — to vividly evoke his particular New England climate and geography so that it can't be mistaken for any other — but what is more unexpected in this new collection of poems, his 16th, is passion."--LA Times
"If the poems in it are relatively somber, they’re equally witty, consummately well-crafted." --Booklist, STARRED review "Featuring moving, amusing, musical poems about love, aging, and baseball, this work will have broad appeal and is recommended for all collections."—Library Journal "The former U.S. poet laureate reaches his 20th book in unmistakably honest form..." --Publishers Weekly
Donald Hall draws on his own childhood memories and gives himself the thing he most wanted but didn't get as a boy: a Christmas at Eagle Pond.
It’s the Christmas season of 1940, and twelve-year-old Donnie takes the train to visit his grandparents' place in rural New Hampshire. Once there, he quickly settles into the farm’s routines. In the barn, Gramp milks the cows and entertains his grandson by speaking rhymed pieces, while Donnie’s eyes are drawn to an empty stall that houses a graceful, cobwebby sleigh. Now Model A's speed over the wintry roads, which must be plowed, and the beautiful sleigh has become obsolete. When the church pageant is over, the gifts are exchanged, and the remains of the Christmas feast put away, the air becomes heavy with fine snowflakes—the kind that fall at the start of a big storm—and everyone wonders, how will Donnie get back to his parents on time?
In celebration of New England and the seasons, the poet laureate of New Hampshire records his love of place. The place is a 180-year-old farmland, Eagle Pond, the home of Hall's grandparents and now his home. "There's no reason to live here except for love," writes Hall as he describes the sight of huge Holsteins frolicking or, when impatient for the arrival of spring, he suggests pushing winter "off to a condominium in the keys of Antarctica." This collection of four essays by a close observer of the natural world is a blend of reminiscences, anecdotes and vignettes that capture continuity of family and the quiet delights of rural life in each season.-- Publishers Weekly
Hall gives us an intimate sketch of his beloved New Hampshire, where he summered with his grandparents at their homestead on Eagle Pond in Danbury: "By the time I was sixteen I daydreamed of living here as a writer; in my twenties I learned that this was impractical; in my forties I did it." All four essays lucidly entwine Hall's past and present lives. Unfortunately, they are self-consciously nostalgic and therefore somewhat oppressive; perhaps because this was the season of Hall's childhood, "Summer" is the best realized. Still, this provides yet another backdrop against which we may examine Hall's poetry, his fiction, and his plays.--Library Journal