Last Poems

Overview

Praise for Hayden Carruth:

"Something Hayden Carruth does as well as any writer is to treat the reader as a friend, and to provide, through his poetry, hours of good company."—The New York Times Book Review

"One of the lasting literary signatures of our time."—Library Journal, starred review

"Carruth, like Whitman, like Chaucer, is large—he contains multitudes. Dip into his ...

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Overview

Praise for Hayden Carruth:

"Something Hayden Carruth does as well as any writer is to treat the reader as a friend, and to provide, through his poetry, hours of good company."—The New York Times Book Review

"One of the lasting literary signatures of our time."—Library Journal, starred review

"Carruth, like Whitman, like Chaucer, is large—he contains multitudes. Dip into his work anywhere, and there is life—and death—as stirringly felt and cogitated as in some vast, Tolstoyan novel."—Booklist, starred review

Hayden Carruth's Last Poems is a triumph—a morally engaged, tender, and fearless volume that combines the last poems of his life with the concluding poems from each of his previous volumes. Introduced by Stephen Dobyns, Last Poems is a moving tribute to a towering and beloved figure in American poetry.

From "Father's Day":

I don't know what fathers are
Supposed to do, although the calendar says
This is "Father's Day." But the day is gloomy
And not at all conducive to visiting or
Celebrating. I know the best thing fathers in
Their prime can do is to make daughters and
More daughters; we can never have enough.
Daughters are our best protection against

Loneliness and the absurd atrocities of
Foreign policy . . .

Hayden Carruth (1921–2008) lived for many years in northern Vermont, then moved to upstate New York, where he taught at Syracuse University. He won the National Book Award for Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey, and his Collected Shorter Poems received the National Book Critics Circle Award.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Carruth (1921–2008) was, by the time of his death, regarded as a major figure in American poetry, having written for decades poems that are morally astute, in deep sympathy with nature and yet not estranged from humanity’s will to destroy it. This unusual book combines his last 40 pages of unpublished poetry with the final poem from each of his previous books, making for a powerful monument to this poet’s career. The new poems are, unsurprisingly, elegiac, full of conversational good-byes and regrets buoyed by a dash of kind humor: “The next time you see a line/ Of geezers shuffling toward the checkout/ Remember they are entering the arcade of/ Death,” he writes in “See You Tomorrow.” Elsewhere, he thanks the long-dead poet James Wright “for that/ astonishing blurb you wrote for my book/ years ago.” Thinking back on a vacation spot he’ll never revisit, Carruth asks, “Can you imagine how much I wish I were/ there? No, you cannot, my dears. Especially not/ In the little time we have left to us.” The last poems from Carruth’s previous books are also hauntingly final. Lines Carruth wrote decades ago to his daughter now, taken differently, stand as truthful parting words to his readers: “I can address you only in my mind,/ Or, what’s the same, in this untouching poem.” (Jan.)
Library Journal
The title of this posthumously released collection bears a double meaning, referring not only to 28 pieces written just before Carruth's death in 2008 at age 87, but also to 27 poems that concluded volumes published over six decades. Prefaced by appreciative essays from poets Brooks Haxton and Stephen Dobyns, this collection serves as a memorial to a versatile if sometimes reclusive poet whose vital and distinctively American voice articulated the necessity of conscience in the face of indifference and human suffering. A Carruth poem could be classically formal or experimental, political or personal, elegant or colloquial, and all modes are represented here, even in the lyrics and fragments most recently written, from the Yeatsian, apocalyptical prophecy of "A Vision of Now" ("For we are/ The new refugees, going nowhere."), to the open-hearted candor of "Valentine" ("I was old when I was born,/ And I've been tired all my life."). VERDICT Though Toward the Distant Islands (2006) remains the essential introduction to Carruth's work, this volume offers an equally wide overview and will be welcomed by longtime fans as well as those wishing to deepen their acquaintance with this important 20th-century poet.—Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556593819
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
  • Publication date: 6/19/2012
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 120
  • Sales rank: 1,401,041
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Hayden Carruth: Hayden Carruth (1921–2008) lived for many years in northern Vermont, then moved to upstate New York, where he taught in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University. He published dozens of books of poetry, a novel, four books of criticism, and two anthologies. Carruth won the 1996 National Book Award for Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey, and his Collected Shorter Poems: 1946-1991 received the National Book Critics Circle Award. He served as the editor of Poetry, poetry editor of Harper's, and for twenty-five years an advisory editor of The Hudson Review. The Bollingen, Guggenheim, and Lannan Foundations, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts, awarded fellowships to Carruth, and he earned the Lenore Marshall/The Nation Prize, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Vermont Governor's Medal, the Carl Sandburg Award, the Whiting Award, and the Ruth Lily Prize.

Stephen Dobyns: Stephen Dobyns was born in Orange, New Jersey, in 1941. He graduated from Wayne State University and has an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. Dobyns has published ten books of poetry and twenty-one novels, including the popular “Saratoga” crime novels. Dobyns has worked as a reporter for the Detroit News and has taught at the University of Iowa, Sarah Lawrence College, Warren Wilson College, Syracuse University, and Boston University. Among his many honors and awards are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. Stephen Dobyns lives in Rhode Island with his wife and three children.

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