poem index

Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon: A Life Together

Year

2004
Printer-friendly version

In this Emmy Award-winning documentary, Bill Moyers visits one of poetry’s most famous couples, Jane Keynon and Donald Hall, at their home in New Hampshire. The ensuing conversation about their careers, their poetry, and their life together are punctuated by readings at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival and before a town-hall-style audience of neighbors.

Kenyon attended the University of Michigan, where she met Hall. They married in 1972, and moved in 1975 to Eagle Pond Farm in Wilmot, New Hampshire, a farm that has been in Hall’s family for several generations. For Hall, who spent his childhood summers and wrote his first poetry there, the move was both a return and a "coming home to the place of language." Kenyon eventually found the setting of the rural New England landscape as a subject that allowed her to express her own inner world, including a life-long struggle with depression.

The film was made in December 1993, soon after Hall had recovered from multiple bouts of cancer. He notes that the odds were against him living another ten years. Though Hall beat the odds and still resides in New Hampshire, sadly, Kenyon died from leukemia less than a year and a half after filming was completed. The film ends, hauntingly, but lovingly, with Kenyon’s poem, "It Might Have Been Otherwise" which includes the lines:

I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

Produced by Films for the Humanities and Sciences. Not Rated.