Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

April 13, 2006

Whitworth Welcomes Poet Donald Hall as 2006 Simpson Duvall Lecturer

Whitworth is honored to present the 2006 Simpson Duvall Lectureship featuring revered poet Donald Hall, who will share the insights of a long, creative life -- a life lived vigorously, and one devoted to expressing, through Hall's mastery of the written word, the human truths that most of us find ineffable.

Hall will read from his works on Tuesday, April 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall, at Whitworth College. Admission is free. Hall's books will be available for sale in the lobby of the auditorium, where he will sign copies following the reading. For more information, please call (509) 777-3253.

Hall, who was born in New Haven, Conn., in 1928, began writing as a youngster and attended the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference at the age of 16 -- the year his first work was published. He earned a B.A. from Harvard in 1951 and a B.Litt. from Oxford in 1953. He has published 15 books of poetry, most recently The Painted Bed (2002) and Without: Poems (1998), published on the third anniversary of the death of his wife and fellow poet Jane Kenyon.

Other notable Hall collections include The One Day (1988), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and a Pulitzer Prize nomination; The Happy Man (1986), which won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; and Exiles and Marriages (1955), which was the Academy of American Poets' Lamont Poetry Selection for 1956.

Of Without: Poems, one reviewer says, "These poems, Hall's elegy for his beloved wife, achieve their haunting power without device or method: even, at times, without lyricism. Instead, Hall conveys the enormity of his grief and loss through the simplest of observations: 'Daybreak until nightfall,/he sat by his wife at the hospital/while chemotherapy dripped/through the catheter into her heart.' In this way, Without becomes more than a tour of extreme grief; it is also an encounter with unexpected beauty."

And John Bayley, of The New York Review of Books, says, "Hall's extraordinarily clear awareness of what is over and gone is more present and more appealing in words now than it could have found room to be in life. . . . It is as if they were not poems at all but experiences undergone with and by another human being."

When not working on poems, Hall has turned his hand to reviews, criticism, textbooks, sports journalism, memoirs, biographies, plays, and children's stories (his Ox-Cart Man won a Caldecott Prize). He has also devoted a great deal of time to editing: between 1983 and 1996 he oversaw publication of more than 60 titles for the University of Michigan Press alone. He was for five years poet laureate of his home state, New Hampshire, and has won the Lamont Poetry Prize, the Edna St. Vincent Millay Award, two Guggenheim fellowships, the Sarah Josepha Hale Award, the NBCC Award, and the Robert Frost Medal. He has been nominated for the National Book Award on three separate occasions.

Hall's honors also include a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Hampshire Writers and Publisher Project, and the Ruth Lilly Prize for poetry. In December 1993, he and Jane Kenyon were the subject of an Emmy Award-winning Bill Moyers documentary, A Life Together. Hall lives in Danbury, N.H.

Of his work Hall says, "Generally, by the time I finish a poem -- often years after I start it -- I have a good idea of what I've said. I don't know what I want to say until I say it; and then I cannot be sure that is what I "wanted to say" before the words came.

"But, from time to time, I have something like paraphrasable content in my head before I begin to write. Poems begin any way they please. I am more interested in poems that begin mysteriously -- or possibly in mania -- as if they were dictated."

The Simpson-Duvall Lectureship honors two of Whitworth's most distinguished professors: Clarence Simpson, professor of English from 1953-1980, and R. Fenton Duvall, professor of history from 1949-1981. The annual lectureship is held in appreciation for these two men's years of commitment and contributions to Whitworth; it continues, in their spirit, to enrich the college community. The lecture is held once each calendar year, and topics alternate between Simpson's and Duvall's disciplines, English and history.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,400 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Doug Sugano, professor of English, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4212 or dsugano@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information officer, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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