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‘Old age is a ceremony of losses’: the late poet Donald Hall on a life lived long

This short documentary from the New York-based filmmaker Paul Szynol finds the late US Poet Laureate Donald Hall (1928-2018) in the autumn of his accomplished life, when his days oscillated between calm solitude and painful loneliness. From his rural New Hampshire home, Hall discusses his career in poetry and the enduring loss of his second wife, the US poet Jane Kenyon, to cancer more than two decades earlier. ‘My companion was her absence,’ says Hall, reflecting on a mourning period that never ended, only evolved. Around him, if only half-acknowledged by Hall, a host of women provide the care that allows him a certain ease in his ageing. Like Hall, Szynol mines poignance from quiet moments and an economy of form, crafting a sparse, atmospheric tribute very much worthy of its subject.

Director: Paul Szynol

Website: Itchy Dog Films

5 September 2019

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