The 1970s at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor was a good time for poetry. Every week or so there was a reading by a luminary in the field: Donald Hall (who taught at U of M), Robert Bly, Galway Kinnel, Joseph Brodsky, Jorge Luis Borges, to name but a few.
In October 1974 two undergraduates, Stephen Blos and Ric Burns, decided to roast a pig and host a dinner. They invited Donald Hall, Bert Hornback and Jane Kenyon, Don’s second wife, along with half a dozen friends.
Stephen Blos took photographs of the dinner resulting in 24 images from the evening. Don Hall used a tape-recorder to capture his impressions from the night before, which became his poem, Eating The Pig, published in 1975.
Stephen Blos went on to study photography at Hampshire College and move to NYC in 1979. He made his living as a photographer, and as a printer for other photographers such as Helen Levitt and Bruce Gilden, among others. Unfortunately, Stephen died in 1985 when he was thirty years old leaving hundreds of negatives.
Jane Kenyon became a well-known poet and translator of the Russian poet, Anna Anakmatova. Jane who lived in New Hampshire with Don, was the Poet Laureate of the state when she died in 1996 at age forty-seven.
Donald Hall lives at Eagle Pond Farm in New Hampshire. He was the Poet Laureate of the United States in 2006 and was awarded the Presidential Medal for the Arts in 2010. He and Sarah Innes met in 2015 to discuss showing the poem and photographs together. Sarah’s sketches of their meeting in New Hampshire are included in the exhibit.
This exhibition is a good example of how art happens: It happens out of daily life.