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Jane Kenyon

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Jane Kenyon
Born(1947-05-23)May 23, 1947
Ann Arbor, Michigan
United States
DiedApril 22, 1995(1995-04-22) (aged 47)
Wilmot, New Hampshire
United States
OccupationPoet, translator
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
(m. 1972)

Jane Kenyon (May 23, 1947 – April 22, 1995) was an American poet and translator. Her work is often characterized as simple, spare, and emotionally resonant. Kenyon was the second wife of poet, editor, and critic Donald Hall who made her the subject of many of his poems.



Kenyon was born in 1947 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Ruele and Pauline, she grew up in the Midwest. She earned a B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1970 and an M.A. in 1972. She won a Hopwood Award at Michigan. As a university student Kenyon met poet Donald Hall; though he was some nineteen years her senior, she married him in 1972, and they moved to his ancestral home in Wilmot, New Hampshire. Kenyon was New Hampshire's poet laureate when she died on April 22, 1995, from leukemia.[1]



Four collections of Kenyon's poems were published during her lifetime: From Room to Room (1978), The Boat of Quiet Hours (1986), Let Evening Come (1990) and Constance (1993); apart from the former being published through Alice James Books, all of her writing was released through Graywolf Press. She spent some years translating the poems of Anna Akhmatova from Russian into English, and she championed translation as an important art that every poet should try.[citation needed]

Kenyon's poems are filled with rural images: light streaming through a hayloft, shorn winter fields. She wrote frequently about wrestling with depression, which plagued her throughout her adult life. Kenyon's poem "Having it out with Melancholy" describes this struggle and the brief moments of happiness she felt when taking an MAOI, Nardil.[2] However, two visits to India in the early 1990s led to a crisis of faith, as Hall (in introductions to her books and in his own memoirs), Alice Mattison, and her biographer John Timmerman have described.[citation needed]

Kenyon was also a contributor to Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art.[citation needed]

Prior to her death, she was editing the collection Otherwise: New and Selected Poems.[citation needed] Kenyon's papers, including manuscripts, personal journals, and notebooks are held at the University of New Hampshire Library Special Collections and Archives.[3]


"Let Evening Come" was featured in the 2005 film In Her Shoes, in a scene where the character played by Cameron Diaz reads the poem (as well as "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop) to a blind nursing home resident.[citation needed]

"Having it out with Melancholy" has been read by Amanda Palmer on Brain Pickings.[citation needed]




  • From Room to Room (November 1, 1978)
  • The Boat of Quiet Hours (October 24, 1986)
  • Let Evening Come (April 30, 1990)
  • Constance (July 12, 1993)
  • Otherwise: New & Selected Poems (March 2, 1996; posthumous release)
  • Collected Poems (September 1, 2005; posthumous anthology release)


  1. ^ "Jane Kenyon, 47, A Poet Laureate". The New York Times. 27 April 1995.
  2. ^ Kenyon, Jane. "Having it out with Melancholy". POETS.org. Academy of American Poets. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  3. ^ "Jane Kenyon Papers, 1961-1995 | University of New Hampshire Library". www.library.unh.edu. 23 May 2017. Retrieved 2018-03-29.