Donald Hall -- poet, memoirist, children's writer, critic -- visited Sewanee yesterday in recognition of his receiving The Sewanee Review's Aiken Taylor award.
I arrived early, expecting a stained glass light show. I was not disappointed. The sesquicentennial window celebrating the University's history threw itself onto the adjoining wall with cabinet with such vigor and deep color that I could not stop watching, even when the program began. After a deeply personal and fascinating introduction by a neighbor/friend/poet, Donald Hall offered reflections, too -- on loss and living on his family's rural property, Eagle Pond Farm in New Hampshire. Hall spoke of "changing" his poems to make them better, even some written decades ago but changed as he gave recent readings. Never once did he sound pompous, but made the writing seem a craft as natural as making hay or growing roses. He read several of my favorites -- "Names of Horses," "My Son, My Executioner," "Old Roses," "Weeds and Peonies," and others.
As he read, I listened and reflected, like the stained glass, letting his words throw my memories on the cabinet of mind.