The Institute Library presents a reading by Community Foundation President William W. Ginsberg of his paper, "Donald Hall in Hamden: An Elegy for the Suburbs," Thursday, February 7, at 7:00 p.m.
Donald Hall is one of the great American men of letters of his generation, serving as Poet Laureate of the United States in 2006-7 and receiving the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2011. As a descendent of an old Hamden family who was born and raised in Spring Glen, Hall's poetry and prose paint a very personal and vivid portrait of life in Depression-era Hamden. The Hurricane of 1938, life at the brand-new Hamden High School, and the rise and fall of the Connecticut dairy business are all examples of the fascinating nuggets of our community’s history that are revealed to us in new ways through Donald Hall’s writing.
Donald Hall’s portrait of growing up in Hamden is painted in dark tones, however. Hall decries Hamden's transition a century ago from rural farming community to modern suburb and writes movingly of how that transition devastated his parents and shaped his own life. Rejecting his Connecticut roots, Hall has chosen to live his adult life on his grandparents' farm in New Hampshire, far from the community where he grew up, and has made his reputation as a poet of the rural north country.
Will Ginsberg discovered Donald Hall's poetry as a college student. In the almost four decades since, Will has embraced Hall’s writing, identifying strongly with Hall’s reverence for the past, his powerful connection to place and the way his poetry renders the landscape of the human heart. Will's paper, "Donald Hall in Hamden: An Elegy for the Suburbs," describes Donald Hall’s portrayal of his upbringing in Hamden and the complex feelings that Hall has for our community. Hall's sense of loss - loss of his parents and loss of the Hamden that once was - are overriding themes. Yet at the same time, Will revels in the ways that Hall's personal experiences and reflections illuminate how our community came to be what it is. And, in the end, Will is able to reconcile his love of Hall's poetry with his own devotion to the community that Hall has rejected.
William W. Ginsberg has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, the largest charitable organization and grantmaker in our region, since 2000. Also a member of numerous boards of New Haven and Connecticut organizations, in 2011 Will received the Community Leadership Award from the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, the community’s highest recognition for lifetime civic leadership.
Tickets are free for Institute Library members and $5 for non-members. Complimentary coffee and light refreshments will be provided by Atticus Bookstore and Café, and beer and wine will be available for $5.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Seating is limited, so please make your reservation today!
The Institute Library, New Haven’s oldest independent literary institution and one of America’s last remaining membership libraries, was founded in 1826 by eight young working men dedicated to "mutual assistance in the attainment of useful knowledge." Coeducational since 1835, the library flourished for decades as the heart of democratic intellectual life in New Haven, offering lectures, literature, debates, and classes to men and women from a wide range of social and educational backgrounds.
In 2011, the library formally renewed its commitment to the cultural life of New Haven with expanded space and hours, community partnerships, and a wide range of new events and programs. To learn more, please call or EMAIL today!
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