deNiord | Hall

deNiord | Hall
November 25, 2023 deNiord Chard

Alexandria Hall is a remarkably talented young poet whose first book, Field Music, was chosen by Rosanna Warren for the National Poetry Series prize in 2020. On my first reading of Field Music, I sensed her genius as a poet immediately. Hall’s muse holds a firm grip on her pen, guiding it in surprising, original, even chaotic ways that make striking sense in language that mystifies. Her poems penetrate one’s ear with language that is paradoxically plain and musical at the same time, stunning her reader with lines such as these: “I left home like a tick/ leaves the tall grass,/ but guilt is soft. I sink/ into it like a tree into rot.” A former student of Major Jackson’s at the University of Vermont, as well as the NYU MFA program, I can only speculate that he recognized her unteachable gift.

The poems that Alexandria sent me for this month’s station-to-station feature in Plume verify, in profoundly simple language, what the art critic Simon Schama claims memory is, namely “the landscape on which we write our recurrent obsessions.” Alexandria’s “obsessions” in “Minutiae” betray the “wound” that hurts into poetry. She is a willing “victim” of her muse’s hurt, leaving her reader both enlightened and wondering at the same time. It would be easy to say that Hall is simply precocious at such a young age, but such backhanded praise would belie her rare talent.

The poem Hall sent me for Plume’s “Station to Station” feature this month titled “Minutiae” resonates as a lament that chronicles breakage and injury in the speaker. The quotidian images that populate the poem—“a broken blue dish,” “pain around the breast and ribs,” “an open blue door for escape,” an “orange worn-out blanket,” “a bee dragging its stinger behind it by a “white mucosal thread…till the thread broke off” testify so powerfully to just how the speaker feels herself: gutted for reasons she never explains explicitly, allowing her imagery instead to transcend any literal explanation she might have employed with far more effective figurative language that leaves her reader also feeling as Emily Dickinson wrote in “I Felt A Funeral In My Brain,” “wrecked solitary here.”


–Chard DeNiord



Clay dogs on the mantle. Bear
figurine from the museum gift
shop. The digital green 0:00 of
the microwave display. A little
pain around the breast and ribs
M beside me in bed and laugh
Just shy of scoffing. As if from
outside. I watch my body drift
daily, between the living room
and yard. I leave the sliding door
open for hours to escape.


All this love can be too much.
The other blue dish broke in half
and we fixed the other two pieces
together in boiling milk. Months
later it shattered on the concrete.


This morning while lying on
the orange worn-out blanket
spread over the astroturf lawn,
I saw the bee. Somehow she
had separated from her stinger,
which lay small and harmless
at the blanket’s edge, connected
to some white mucosal thread
of viscera that trailed from her
wounded backside till the thread
broke off. And slowly on foot,
the bee dragged on.

–Alexandria Hall


They found a conch and took it to their room.
His mother said it was perfect and smiled.
She told him to listen for its roar
but nothing emerged.
“The sea will be calm tonight she said in jest.
He wondered then for the first time about perfection.
The animal lay dead inside, like an ear gone deaf.
The room began to stink
and the ocean rose in foreboding swells.
“The animal is still alive inside!” the landlady cried.
“You must take it back.”
They carried it back inside a bag
and laid it down on its corrugated side.
The hidden persistent teeth of ocean’s edge
ground it back to sand.

–Chard DeNiord



Alexandria Hall is the author of Field Music (Ecco, 2020), a winner of the National Poetry Series. She holds an MFA from NYU and is a PhD candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at USC. She is a founding editor of tele- and co-host of You Shouldn’t Let Poets Lie to You. Her work has appeared in The Bennington Review, The Yale Review, LARB Quarterly Journal, Annulet, and other publications. She lives in Los Angeles.


Chard deNiord is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently In My Unknowing (University of Pittsburgh Press 2020) and Interstate (U. of Pittsburgh, 2015). He is also the author of two books of interviews with eminent American poets titled Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs, Conversations and Reflections on 20th Century Poetry (Marick Press, 2011) and I Would Lie To You If I Could  (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018). He co-founded the New England College MFA program in 2001 and the Ruth Stone Foundation in 2011. He served as poet laureate of Vermont from 2015 to 2019 and taught English and Creative Writing for twenty-two years at Providence College, where is now a Professor Emeritus. He lives in Westminster West, Vt. with his wife, the painter, Liz Hawkes deNiord.