Hayden Carruth is a major literary figure and no survey of American poetry is complete without inclusion of his work.
In this newest book of poems—the first since his 1996 National Book Award—Carruth confronts the threadbare memories of old age and the fading winter view. From the bleakest circumstances—the death of his daughter, physical and mental pain, poverty—Carruth defiantly reclaims dignity and beauty. His poetry is at once classical and modern. With the spit and bop of a great jazzman playing all the right notes, Carruth lives his music, finding the perfect low tones of terrible loss, the highs of family and friendship. Yet he is also the wise old sage of classical Greece, warning, riddling, giving generous counsel and insight.
"At Seventy-Five: Rereading an Old Book"
My prayers have been answered, if they were prayers. I live.
I'm alive, and even in rather good health, I believe.
If I'd quit smoking I might live to be a hundred.
Truly this is astonishing, after the poverty and pain,
The suffering. Who would have thought that petty
Endurance could achieve so much?
Were they prayers? Always I was adamant
In my irreligion, and had good reason to be.
Yet prayer is not, I see in old age now,
A matter of doctrine or discipline, but rather
A movement of the natural human mind
Bereft of its place among the animals, the other
Animals. I prayed. Then on paper I wrote
Some of the words I said, which are these poems.
Hayden Carruth has won nearly every major award in poetry, including the National Book Award and the National Book Critic's circle Award. He is the author of 24 previous books of poetry and prose. He lives in Munnsville, NY.