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At 86, Poet Donald Hall Writes On, But Leaves Verse Behind
At 86 years old, the poet Donald Hall can no longer write poetry. Not enough testosterone, he says. But the former U.S. Poet Laureate and recipient of the National Medal of Arts still has prose in him: He has just published a collection titled Essays After 80.
The book spans Hall's entire career, his family life, his addiction to smoking and his thoughts on his own beard.
From his rural New Hampshire farmhouse, Hall tells NPR's Arun Rath why he's still at it. "I love to work," he says, "and work in my life has meant only one thing and that's a pen on the paper."
Interview Highlights
On realizing he couldn't write poetry anymore
I guess it was about three years ago, and I realized I didn't have it anymore. It's just getting old. I think you need higher testosterone levels to write poetry than I have at the moment. But fortunately I can still write prose. ...
It was gradual, and I had the sense of poetry fading on me, or me fading on poetry, for several years. And then I would think "No, this is good." And then six months later it wasn't so good. And so I saw it coming.
I didn't really see these essays coming, and I'm very glad