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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hayden Carruth

posted by on October 1 at 12:19 PM

American Poet, dead at 87. I always found Carruth’s poems to be eminently readable and accessible. Everything Billy Collins claims to be, Carruth actually was.

Try “Letter to Denise,” with its argument over whether bears pee or piss, and then you can hear him read a poem of his own called The Cows at Night,” with its references to “…girls very long ago/who were innocent, and sad/because they were innocent,/and beautiful because they were/sad.” And then read his marvelous “Regarding Chainsaws,” about a friendship viewed through the history of chainsaw ownership. He was one of the greats, and a real populist poet.

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Oh God no. I was a student of his. He knew more about poetry than anyone I'd ever met. And he wrote many, fine, fine poems.

Posted by mint chocolate chip | October 1, 2008 1:18 PM

Losing Robert Creeley a few years ago was hard enough, but the death of Carruth has truly brought an end to the great vernacular poets of the rust belt. A sad day.

Posted by Gurldoggie | October 1, 2008 3:23 PM

Damn. I spoke with him about two weeks ago, and all was good and the same. He was grumbling but laughing easily ("Do you know how old I am?!"). He was excited about the reappearance of the wolf in Washington. A few years ago we got drunk in a small town in upstate New York (Hayden had his oxygen tank with him, and we sat in a banquet room away from the smokers in the bar) and we drove around for an hour looking for a wind farm that had just been built. He was purring to Joanne before he was through their front door: "Forgive me, darling, for I have fallen and am a fool." He once chided us (a class) for not having read Buber's "Tales of the Hasidim." I still haven't read it, but here's the opening: "The purpose of this book is to introduce the reader to a world of legendary reality. I must call it legendary, for the accounts which have been handed down to us, and which I have here tried to put into fitting form, are not authentic in the sense that a chronicle is authentic. They go back to fervent human beings who set down their recollections of what they saw or thought they had seen, in their fervor, and this means that they included many things which took place, but were apparent only to the gaze of fervor, and others which cannot have happened and could not happen in the way they are told, but which the elated soul perceived as reality and, therefore, related as such. That is why I must call it reality: the reality of the experience of fervent souls, a reality born in all innocence, unalloyed by invention and whimsy." One of these days, Hayden!

Posted by dvnms | October 1, 2008 6:14 PM

. . . how sad-something or other you can't praise one poet

without demeaning another . . .

believe it or me, there are some of us who regard Collins with as much admiration

as you do Carruth——

Posted by bill knott | October 3, 2008 11:48 AM

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