Phil Hall has published 20 books of poetry, and many chapbooks. He has lived in Windsor, Vancouver and Toronto, and now lives near Perth, Ontario. While in Vancouver, he was a member of the Vancouver Industrial Writers Union, and the Men Against Rape Collective. In 2007 he walked the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain.
In 2011 he won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in English, and in 2012 Ontario’s Trillium Book Award. He has been nominated twice for the Griffin Poetry Prize, in 2006 and 2012. Hall is the founder of Flat Singles Press, and the founder of The Page Lectures at Queen’s University. Most recently, Beautiful Outlaw Press has published Toward A Blacker Ardour (2021). Phil is also a singer of traditional songs, a visual artist, and a banjo player.
I memorized three poems as a teenager: "Suzanne" by Leonard Cohen; "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" by Robert Service; and "Alice's Restaurant" by Arlo Guthrie (a talking song).
Two poems in high school overwhelmed me: "Fern Hill" by Dylan Thomas; "Bombers" by C. Day Lewis.
I first wrote poetry very early, rhyming the names of the students in my class, etc.
Then in high school, at 16, I started keeping journals, and thought of myself as a poet then.
Only at university did I identify myself to others as a poet, when I first tried to get poems accepted in literary journals.
A poet's job is to work with language -- not meaning, not feelings, not personal story -- but language:
to use words and their letters, by sound, shape and definition, to orchestrate a complex an ancient music.
"A thin plea" imitates and speaks to the killdeer. It comes from hearing or remembering the cry of the killdeer, which is a thin plea (or to us it seems to be a plea).
What Is Poetry by Susan Holbrook