The New Poet Laureate: Donald Hall

In the Boston Globe, a profile of and reading from the new United States poet laureate, Donald Hall.


Is poetry dead? Hall scoffs at the idea in his essay “Death to the Death of Poetry,” first published in 1989.

“This is your contrary assignment: Be as good a poet as George Herbert. Take as long as you wish,” Hall writes in his essay “Poetry and Ambition,” which was first a lecture and then published in 1983.

His criticism is stinging.

“The McPoem is the product of the workshops of Hamburger University,” and “every year, Ronald McDonald takes the Pulitzer.”

His expectations for poems are stirring.

Poems, “to satisfy ambition’s goals, must not express mere personal feeling or opinion — as the moment’s McPoem does. It must by its language make art’s new object.”