Poets from the Academy Archives & Special Collections

April is National Poetry Month.  Before our building closure, Magee Lawhorn, Head of Archives & Special Collections, was in the process of curating an exhibit highlighting poets from our Special Collections. In the exhibit introduction she explains that the “Phillips Exeter Academy’s poetry collection includes published works and manuscripts from 17th century to the present day.  Some of the works featured in the exhibit are world renowned pieces and others are notable obscurities that have stood the test of time.”

In celebration of National Poetry month and in place of offering a physical exhibit to view, the Library has created a series of weekly blog posts to share a bit about the featured poets’ lives and their works.

This week’s post highlights the works of two Phillips Exeter Academy Alumni, Emily Pérez ’94 and Donald Hall ’47.

Emily Pérez ’94

Emily Pérez

Pérez was born and raised in south Texas. Before becoming a poet she graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1994, earned a BA with honors from Stanford, and an MFA from the University of Houston, where she was poetry editor for the Gulf Coast and a teacher for Writers in the Schools. Pérez is the author of Backyard Migration Route (2011) and House of Sugar, House of Stone (2016). Both collections explore the constructs of American consciousness through border crossings, ethnicity, fixed identity, and a sense of “inbetweenness”. Pérez  has received grants and scholarships from the Artist Trust, Jack Straw Writers, Bread Loaf Writers’ Workshop, Summer Literary Seminars, and Inprint, Houston. A former Canto Mundo fellow, she is a member of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley.  Presently she teaches English and Gender Studies in Denver, Colorado. (Source: Emily Pérez)

Poems by Pérez

Donald Hall ’47 (1928 – 2018)

Former US Poet Laureate, Donald Hall grew up in Hamden, Connecticut.  He graduated Phillips Exeter Academy in 1947. During this time he published his first poem at the age of 16. After PEA he attended Harvard University. His first collection was Exiles and Marriages (1955). His poetry explores the longing for a more rural past that reveres nature above all else, while using simple, direct language to evoke surrealistic imagery. In addition to his poetry, Hall built a respected body of prose that includes essays, short fiction, plays, and children’s books. In 1994 Hall married fellow author Jane Keyon (1947-1995).  Kenyon and Hall worked side-by-side until her death. Hall’s marriage to Kenyon and her passing inspired the majority of his work later in life, which is often regarded as his best work. (Source: Poetry Foundation).

Poems and Interviews