Synopses & Reviews
Poetry. COLLECTED SHORTER POEMS presents hundreds of lyric, short narrative, comic, meditative, nature, and erotic poems spanning nearly half a century. Hayden Carruth's engagement with political radicalism, rural poverty, and cultural responsibility in the life of poetry is unique in our time. Celebrated for the breadth of his linguistic and formal resources, and influenced by jazz and blues, he has been called by Adrienne Rich "one of our country's poetic treasures."
Collected Shorter Poems, 1946-1991 presents all the lyric, short narrative, comic, meditative, nature, and erotic poetry the poet has chosen from the past forty-five years, including a section of new poems not found in his previous twenty-two books. It is an extraordinary literary event. Hayden Carruth has been one of the most widely published and admired American poets for many years. Noted for the breadth of his linguistic and formal resources, influenced by jazz and the blues, Carruth gives his poems--whether sexual political, or narrative--a philosophical resonance that raises them beyond the ego-centered narrowness of much contemporary writing and makes them powerfully moving. Carruth is a New Englander (now living in New York), and many of his best-known poems are about the people and places of northern Vermont. His explorations of rural poverty and hardship, sometimes grim, sometimes funny, are deeply informed by political radicalism and cultural responsibility. Carruth has been editor of Poetry, poetry editor of Harper's, for many years advisory editor of The Hudson Review, and his influential anthology, The Voice That Is Great Within Us, is the standard collection of 20th-century American poetry. He has published one novel and three collections of essays. He has been awarded fellowships by the Guggenheim Foundation, the Bollingen Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts (including a 1988 Senior Fellowship), and his work has won many prizes and awards, including the Lenore Marshall/Nation Poetry Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and the Governor's Medal from the State of Vermont.
Lyric, erotic, and meditative, this collection stands as a monument to the technical virtuosity of one of the major poets of our time. "Rarely do poets earn the unqualified admiration of both their academic and experimental peers, but Carruth--through his artistic versatility and critical ecumenism--has been doing just that for half a century."--Library Journal
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.