If we believe that the most engaging people have eclectic interests, then Donald Hall is incontrovertibly our most engaging man of letters. Prize-winning poet, teacher, essayist, children’s book writer, Hall here reflects on some of the things he holds most dear: his family home at New Hampshire’s Eagle Pond, baseball, poetry, artists and writers named Henry (Moore, Adams, and James), trees, politics, graveyards, basketball, and reading out loud.
Collected here for the first time are Hall’s reminiscences of time spent with the sculptor Henry Moore, appreciations of his sports heroes such as Bob Cousy, Red Auerbach, Carlton Fisk, and his insightful and inspiring readings of fellow poets, E. A. Robinson, Andrew Marvell, James Wright, and others. This undeniably eclectic mix is a celebration and catalog of a writer’s subjects. In Hall’s words, “The title should please not only for its prodigious procession of p’s but for bringing back memories of rote recitation standing in the third grade doing the multiplication tables, 7’s maybe, or maybe the principal products of Portugal.”
Hall’s dedication to the written word will be familiar to readers of his poetry and his autobiographical essay Life Work, a “sustained meditation on work as the key to personal happiness,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Principal Products of Portugal gives Hall’s readers a fresh perspective on familiar subjects as well as a deeper appreciation for the making of a reader, writer, and poet.