New York State Writers Institute
Donald Hall
Donald Hall

Donald Hall on
The Writer PBS Series
Channel 17
Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

December 17, 2000

Sydney Lea
Sydney Lea

Poet Donald Hall, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angles Times Book Prize, and poet Sydney Lea, co-winner of the 1998 Poet's Prize, will present a joint reading of their work.

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Donald Hall, best known for his poetry, has also published short stories, essays, a memoir, plays and children's books. His most recent work includes Without: Poems (1998, Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-88408-x), Fathers Playing Catch with Sons: Essays on Sport (1998), Principal Products of Portugal: Prose Pieces (1995), the memoir Life Work (1993), and numerous children's books, including I Am the Dog I Am the Cat (1994), about two philosophical house pets. His poetry volume, The One Day (1998), received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Hall also served as Poet Laureate of New Hampshire from 1984 to 1989, and edited the Oxford Book of Children's Verse in America, which appeared in 1985. In 1992 he received the Robert Frost Silver Medal from the Poetry Society of America, and in 1994, the Lily Prize for Poetry. Three of Hall's works have been nominated for the National Book Award.

Without is poet Donald Hall's 14th collection in a career that is in its fifth decade. Published on the third-year anniversary of his wife and fellow poet Jane Kenyon's death, Without explores Hall's sadness at a wonderful marriage of two accomplished poets torn apart by illness. Without is what Publishers Weekly called "a heartbreaking portrait of a marriage that death has not quite ended." It tells about the illness and death of his wife and fellow poet Jane Kenyon, who suffered from leukemia. The Washington Post writes, "Mr. Hall's poems, one hopes, will offer an antidote to the horrific glimpses now on offer of the much discussed, fateful union of two other poets, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes."

"Hall paints scenes with the reverent earthiness of a Dutch master, getting all the textures right." - Poet Alicia Ostriker in The Nation

"...perhaps the finest sustained evocation of death in American poetry." - The New York Times Book Review on his poem Praise for Death

Donald Hall and Sydney Lea visited the NYS Writers Institute on November 3, 1999.

Sydney Lea, poet, novelist and essayist, is the author of To the Bone: New and Selected Poems, which was a co-winner of the 1998 Poet's Prize. A master narrative poet, Lea's previous poetry volumes include Prayer for the Little City (1990), No Sign (1987), The Floating Candles (1982) and Searching the Drowned Man (1980). His seventh verse collection, Pursuit of a Wound, will be published next year. His only novel, A Place in Mind, was first published in 1989 and in paperback in 1997 (Story Line Press, ISBN 1-885266-39-1). Lea was the founder and long-time editor of The New England Review. He is the past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship for poetry, and of a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship. A Vermont native, Lea is also the author of numerous essays and magazine pieces on morally responsible hunting and dog-training, some of which are collected in Hunting the Whole Way Home (1995).

"A Place in Mind is full of brilliant images and strange poetic details, and the quality of writing is superb--so good it hurts to read it." - E. Annie Proulx

". . .lyrical, stunningly crafted." - The New York Times Book Review about A Place in Mind

"A noted nature writer and novelist, Lea in his poetry evokes his home region, the dark woods and harsh seasons of the Northeast." - The Hudson Review

"The poems of Sydney Lea create, even in their apparent unambitiousness, a coherent and heart-touching world. Mr. Lea converts factuality into a poetry of depth (an attempt that has become a fashion but that usually fails), small observations into something as deep as ritual. He is a poet who knows where to find the poetry that suits his nature--and a poetry of which we would not be happily deprived. He has the subtlety of mind, emotion, and ear to achieve this in a genre in which many fail." - Robert Penn Warren

"Out of simple stories, he is able to convey the true sense of lyric poetry and the pure expression of a momentary emotional intensity. . ." - Donald Faulkner in The Journal-Courier

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The Writer PBS Series
Writers Online Magazine Article (Hall)
Maine Books Online (Lea article)