Donald Hall, a prolific, award-winning poet and man of letters widely admired for his sharp humor and painful candor about nature, mortality, baseball and the distant past, has died at age 89. Hall’s daughter, Philippa Smith, confirmed 24 June 2018 that her father died 23 June 2018 at his home in Wilmot, New Hampshire, after being in hospice care for some time.
Starting in the 1950s, Hall published more than 50 books, from poetry and drama to biography and memoirs, and edited a pair of influential anthologies. He was an avid baseball fan who wrote odes to his beloved Boston Red Sox, completed a book on pitcher Dock Ellis and contributed to Sports Illustrated. He wrote a prize-winning children’s book, “Ox-Cart Man,” and even attempted a biography of Charles Laughton, only to have the actor’s widow, Elsa Lancaster, kill the project.
But the greatest acclaim came for his poetry, for which his honors included a National Book Critics Circle prize, membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a National Medal of Arts. Although his style varied from haikus to blank verse, he returned to a handful of themes: his childhood, the death of his parents and grandparents and the loss of his second wife and fellow poet, Jane Kenyon.