Synopses & Reviews
Cultural Writing. Autobiographical Essays. These touching and intimate essays reveal the integrity of Hayden Carruth -- one of the most solitary, esteemed, and controversial poets of this century. Despite his wide erudition, he has lived largely outside academia. These essays chronicle a lifetime of wrestling with his personal demons and muses; time spent hospitalized for severe chronic depression; a passionate love of jazz and blues; his suicide attempt; and most of all, his uncommon, unflinching honesty.
Despite being among the most erudite poets of his time, Carruth has lived his life largely outside academia, mastering his craft writing in a cow shed beside a woodstove. His autobiographical essays chronicle a lifetime of wrestling with demons and muses, time spent hospitalized for severe chronic depression, his love of jazz and blues, a suicide attempt, and most of all an uncommon, unflinching devotion to honesty.
Despite being among the most erudite poets of this century, Hayden Carruth has lived his life largely outside academia. This collection of stunning autobiographical essays chronicles a lifetime of wrestling with demons and muses, chronic depression, a suicide attempt, a passionate love of jazz and blues, and unflinching honesty.
Intellectually engaged, uncompromisingly honest essays by author of National Book Award winner Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey.
About the Author
Hayden Carruth was born on August 3, 1921, in Waterbury, Connecticut, and educated at both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Chicago, where he earned a master's degree. His first collection of poems, The Crow and the Heart, was published in 1959. Since then, he published more than thirty books, including Toward the Distant Islands: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2006) and Doctor Jazz: Poems 1996-2000 (2001). Other poetry titles include Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey: Poems, 1991-1995 (1996), which received the National Book Award for Poetry; Collected Longer Poems (1994); Collected Shorter Poems, 1946-1991 (1992), which received the National Book Critics' Circle Award; The Sleeping Beauty (1990); and Tell Me Again How the White Heron Rises and Flies Across Nacreous River at Twilight Toward the Distant Islands (1989). Known also for his criticism, Carruth is the author of several prose collections, including Selected Essays and Reviews (Copper Canyon Press, 1996) and Sitting In: Selected Writings on Jazz, Blues, and Related Topics (1993), as well as nonfiction works, including Beside the Shadblow Tree: A Memoir of James Laughlin (Copper Canyon Press, 1999) and Reluctantly: Autobiographical Essays (1998). He is also the author of a novel, Appendix A (1963), and has edited a number of anthologies, including The Voice That Is Great Within Us: American Poetry of the Twentieth Century (Bantam, 1970). Informed by his political radicalism and sense of cultural responsibility, many of Carruth's best-known poems are about the people and places of northern Vermont, as well as rural poverty and hardship. About Carruth and his work, the poet Galway Kinnell has said, "This is not a man who sits down to 'write a poem'; rather, some burden of understanding and feeling, some need to know, forces his poems into being. Thoreau said, 'Be it life or death, what we crave is reality.' So it is with Carruth. And even in hell, knowledge itself bestows a halo around the consciousness with, at moments, attains it." Carruth received fellowships from the Bollingen Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and a 1995 Lannan Literary Fellowship. He was presented with the Lenore Marshall Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Vermont Governor's Medal, the Carl Sandburg Award, the Whiting Award, and the Ruth Lilly Prize, among many others. He taught at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and at the Graduate Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University. Carruth lived in Vermont for many years before residing in Munnsville, New York, with his wife, the poet Joe-Anne McLaughlin Carruth. He died September 29, 2008.