The Best Day The Worst Day
Life with Jane Kenyon
By Donald Hall
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618478019, 272pp.)
Publication Date: May 1, 2005
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Donald Hall's celebrated book of poems Without was written for his wife, Jane Kenyon, who died in 1995. Hall returns to this powerful territory in The Best Day the Worst Day, a work of prose that is equally "a work of art, love, and generous genius" (Liz Rosenberg, Boston Globe).
Jane Kenyon was nineteen years younger than Donald Hall and a student poet at the University of Michigan when they met. Hall was her teacher. The Best Day the Worst Day is an intimate account of their twenty-three-year marriage, nearly all of it spent in New Hampshire at Eagle Pond Farm of their shared rituals of writing, close attention to pets and gardening, and love in the afternoon. Hall joyfully records Jane's growing power as a poet and the couple's careful accommodations toward each other as writers. This portrait of the inner moods of "the best marriage I know about," as Hall has written, is laid against the stark medical emergency of Jane's leukemia, which ended her life in fifteen months. Hall shares with readers as if we were one of the grieving neighbors, friends, and relatives the daily ordeal of Jane's dying, through heartbreaking and generous storytelling.
The Best Day the Worst Day stands alongside Elegy to Iris as a powerful testimony to both loss and love.
DONALD HALL, poet laureate of the United States from 2006 to 2007, has received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in poetry, the Lenore Marshall Award, the 1990 Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.