Hall's primary subject, The recipient of the National Medal for the Arts, the Robert Frost Medal, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Hall was named the fourteenth U.S. Poet Laureate in 2006. He succeeded Ted Kooser, and was himself succeeded by Charles Simic the following year.
Hall was best known throughout the bulk of his career as a poet of rural life in America, and specifically in New England, making him something of a late 20th Century Robert Frost. Following the death of his wife of 23 years, the poet Jane Kenyon, in 1995—to cancer, an illness both poets battled concurrently and which only he survived—Hall's poetry took a strong turn toward the twin subjects of life and death.
While primarily a poet, the prolific Hall wrote in other categories and genre. He penned more than a dozen works for children and nearly a dozen works of biography and memoir—including 2014's Essays After Eighty, which received a starred and boxed review in Publishers Weekly. He also wrote a few plays and several essay collections, short story collections, and textbooks.
Hall's death was announced by his literary agent, Wendy Strothman.