Q&A with Dana Greene, author of JANE KENYON

Dana Greene, author of Jane Kenyon: The Making of a Poet, answers questions on her new book.

Q: Why did you decide to write this book? 

I like Kenyon’s poetry. Many people knew her and were willing to be interviewed, there was an archive, and there were enough paradoxes in her life to make for an interesting biography.    

Q: What is the most interesting discovery you made while researching and writing your book? 

Donald Hall was initially enthusiastic about this biography, he gave me many contacts, but when he learned that I had access to letters he did not know about, he closed the Kenyon archives at the University of New Hampshire. He put no posthumous restrictions on the archive. 

Q: What myths do you hope your book will dispel or what do you hope your book will help readers unlearn? 

I hope the biography will dispel the myth created by Donald Hall about their life together—that they lived blissfully in the countryside, creating poetry. While Kenyon appreciated his support, she had to break from his control. 

Q: Which part of the publishing process did you find the most interesting?  

The most interesting part of the review and editorial process was uncovering any flaws in the writing.  

Q: What is your advice to scholars/authors who want to take on a similar project? 

There will always be conflict and disagreement in biographical writing. This is the first biography on Kenyon and that will help her subsequent biographers. 

Q: What do you like to read/watch/or listen to for fun? 

I lead a poetry group, watch The Great Courses, and listen to classic music.  

Dana Greene is Dean Emerita of Oxford College of Emory University. Her books include Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life and Elizabeth Jennings: “The Inward War.”

About Kristina Stonehill