Monday, April 20, 2009
Unpacking the Boxes: A Memoir of a Life in Poetry by Donald Hall
Donald Hall delivered the keynote lecturer at the annual Beall Poetry festival at Baylor University this year. I purchased this book and a collection of his poems, which he graciously inscribed to me.
Over the years, I have run into an occasional poem by Hall, but never read him extensively. His lecture had humor and a certain earthiness to it, but I had a hard time understanding chunks of his talk – the sound system failed time and again.
The initial chapters related his childhood and his early desire to become a poet. the story followed him through high school and college to post-graduate studies in England. He related details of his life as he began teaching and finally reached a point in his career where he could devote himself to writing full-time.
Unfortunately, the last three chapters dwell on his wife’s battle with cancer, and his decline, culminating in a stroke a few years ago. He recovered and returned to his desk to finish this book.
These last chapters turned the whole tone of the book around, and it ended on a sour note. Still an interesting life, and I am glad I met him. I look forward to reading the collection of poems. 4 stars