I originally wrote this story about Donald Hall in June of 2006 when he was first appointed Poet Laureate of New Hampshire. Today I read that Mr. Hall passed away on 23 June 2018 at the age of 89. He lived on a farm called Eagle Pond. How appropriate to live there as his words soared as high as that wondrous bird flies. Rest in Peace, Donald Hall.
—- The original 2006 story —-
The newspapers and ezines are full of articles about our new Poet Laureate, Donald Hall.
My question is…. what exactly IS a “Poet Laureate?”
First, in the United States, the title is really “Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.” (In 1985 the title was changed to this, from the former “Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress”).
Donald Hall’s first official duties will start on September 30th in the National Mall in Washington D.C., where he is a featured speaker at the Library of Congress National Book Festival’s poetry pavilion.
His goal will be to “seek to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.” This position is appointed yearly by the Librarian of Congress. The Poet Laureate serves from October to May, and receives a $35,000 annual stipend funded by a gift from Archer M. Huntington.
Each Laureate brings a different emphasis to the position. Past Poet Laureates have created poetry workshops for women, or met with elementary school students to encourage them to write. As the newest 14th Poet Laureate, Donald Hall has not yet announced his focus.
Donald Hall is also a former Poet Laureate of New Hampshire from 1995-1999. In New Hampshire, the position of Poet Laureate was not established until 1967. It is purely an unpaid, honorary position, that is appointed by the Governor of New Hampshire on a worthy New Hampshire resident.
Amy Kane has a great article at Area 603 where you learn more about Donald Hall himself, and visit some great links to videos of him; and Pun Salad offers insight into Donald Hall’s children’s book, “Ox-Cart Man.”
P.S.: Although not a native of New Hampshire (he was born in Connecticut in 1928), Donald Hall’s mother and grandmother were born in New Hampshire, and he has lived in Wilmot for at least 30 years. His maternal grandmother’s Keniston line hails back to before 1646 in Portsmouth and Greenland, New Hampshire.