The Back Chamber

By Donald Hall
(Houghton Mifflin, Hardcover, 9780547645858, 82pp.)

Publication Date: September 2011

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The first full-length volume of poems in a decade by the former poet laureate of the United States

In The Back Chamber, Donald Hall illuminates the evocative, iconic objects of deep memory—a cowbell, a white stone perfectly round, a three-legged milking stool—that serve to foreground the rich meditations on time and mortality that run through his remarkable new collection. While Hall’s devoted readers will recognize many of his long-standing preoccupations—baseball, the family farm, love, sex, and friendship—what will strike them as new is the fierce, pitiless poignancy he reveals as his own life’s end comes into view. The Back Chamber is far from being death-haunted, but rather is lively, irreverent, erotic, hilarious, ironic, and sly—full of the life-affirming energy that has made Donald Hall one of America’s most popular and enduring poets.

About the Author
Donald E. Hall is Jackson Family Distinguished Chair in the Department of English at West Virginia University and the author of Fixing Patriarchy: Feminism and Mid-Victorian Male Novelists, also from NYU Press.

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2012

The 83-year-old former poet laureate reflects on how life has changed as he's grown older. "My body causes me trouble when I cross the room, but when I am sitting down writing, I am in my heaven � my old heaven," he says. More at

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Praise For The Back Chamber

"For the reader boiling in triple-digit SoCal heat at the end of the summer, Donald Hall's "The Back Chamber: Poems" arrives like a sudden cloudburst and shower of cooling rain. . .A former U.S. poet laureate, Hall has always had this elemental power — to vividly evoke his particular New England climate and geography so that it can't be mistaken for any other — but what is more unexpected in this new collection of poems, his 16th, is passion."--LA Times

"If the poems in it are relatively somber, they’re equally witty, consummately well-crafted." --Booklist, STARRED review "Featuring moving, amusing, musical poems about love, aging, and baseball, this work will have broad appeal and is recommended for all collections."—Library Journal "The former U.S. poet laureate reaches his 20th book in unmistakably honest form..." --Publishers Weekly
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