My heart breaks every time I read the word "nearing" on the cover of this book and remember poet Donald Hall's death on June 23, 2018, just three months shy of his ninetieth birthday. Though heartbreak was something I rarely felt reading A Carnival of Losses, whose reminiscences and observations pulse with passionate, rascally life. Here are Hall's thoughts on (among other things) baseball, vaping, solitude, sex, dentures, Ann Arbor cocktail parties, and, of course, poetry and poets, chief among them his late wife Jane Kenyon. I devoured this book in a couple days, though if I were you I'd take my time--you won't want to part with Hall's company anytime soon.
Former poet laureate of the United States Donald Hall’s final collection of essays, from the vantage point of very old age, once again “alternately lyrical and laugh‑out‑loud funny.”* *(New York Times)
“Why should a nonagenarian hold anything back?” Donald Hall answers his own question in these self-knowing, fierce, and funny essays on aging, the pleasures of solitude, and the sometimes astonishing freedoms arising from both. Nearing ninety at the time of writing, he intersperses memories of exuberant days in his youth, with uncensored tales of literary friendships spanning decades—with James Wright, Richard Wilbur, Seamus Heaney, and other luminaries. Cementing his place alongside Roger Angell and Joan Didion as a generous and profound chronicler of loss, this final work is as original and searing as anything Hall wrote during his extraordinary literary lifetime.
About the Author
DONALD HALL (1928-2018) served as poet laureate of the United States from 2006 to 2007. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a recipient of the National Medal of the Arts, awarded by the president.
"Donald Hall writes about love and loss and art and home in a manner so essential and direct it’s as if he’s put the full force of his life on the page. There are very few perfect books, and A Carnival of Losses is one of them.” — Ann Patchett
"It’s odd that a book whose subject is loss could be so uplifting. And yet it is. Hall may be telling us what it’s like to fall apart, but he does it so calmly, and with such wit and exactitude, that you can’t help but shake your head in wonder." — Washington Post
“A joyful, wistful celebration of poetry, poets, and a poet's life . . . There's much to enjoy in these exuberant ‘notes.’" — Kirkus Reviews
“Candid and often humorous . . . Hall’s ruminative and detailed reflections on life make this a fantastic follow-up to his Essays After Eighty." — Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Hall offers a veritable sparkling necklace of pieces on aging, solitude, and the surprising joys of both, interspersed and embellished by memories.” — Library Journal
"One of the best American poets . . . 'The Selected Poets of Donald Hall,' to which poetry lovers may turn first, [will] be delightfully surprised to discover they’re more gossip than critique. There is much more about poetry, of course, most notably the longest entry, 'Necropoetics,' about elegies and other poems of death, ending with his for his wife, the late Jane Kenyon. Another, longer piece may be the best: 'Walking to Portsmouth' tells the story behind Hall’s Caldecott medalist children’s book, The Ox-Cart Man. But they’re all good." — Booklist