Hayden Carruth survived isolation, mental health problems, and long struggle with drink and smoke to produce a vision of modern poetry rooted in the New England tradition but entirely his own. Many feel his best poems emerged from the isolation of rural Vermont, and his poems often are concerned with rural images and metaphors reflecting the land and hardscrabble people around him. Together with his second love, jazz, Carruth’s rural experiences infuse his poems with engaging and provocative ideas even as they present sometimes stark topics.
This volume collects essays and poems from such notable contributors as Donald Hall, Marilyn Hacker, Adrienne Rich, Philip Booth, Matthew Miller, and Sascha Feinstein, among many others. The book’s sections concern the kinds of writings, and the values expressed in his writings, for which Carruth was most famous, including what editor Shaun T. Griffin calls “social utility,” jazz, his impoverished rural environment, and “innovation” in poetic form.