Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey, 1991-1995

Overview

There can be no doubt that Hayden Carruth is one of the pre-eminent American poets of the late twentieth century. In these poems written since publication of his Collected Shorter Poems, 1946-1991, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, he speaks with intimate and urgent clarity of love late in life, and in heartrending poems addresses his daughter's struggle against cancer. In others he engages the loves, friendships, and social concerns of a lifetime. With passion and pathos and great good humor, in ...
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Overview

There can be no doubt that Hayden Carruth is one of the pre-eminent American poets of the late twentieth century. In these poems written since publication of his Collected Shorter Poems, 1946-1991, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, he speaks with intimate and urgent clarity of love late in life, and in heartrending poems addresses his daughter's struggle against cancer. In others he engages the loves, friendships, and social concerns of a lifetime. With passion and pathos and great good humor, in poems that could only be written by a mature poet at the height of his powers, Carruth achieves a nobility of vision that is rare in any age.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Carruth's latest collection revolves around a handful of familiar themes, all of which mingle and reconfigure throughout the poet's bittersweet, sometimes celebratory, occasionally rueful verse. Meditations on aging and love, nostalgia and guilt, contemporary politics and ancient history filter through much of this generally moving, uneven collection. Carruth's voice, always highly personal, is at its best when it mixes colloquial diction with an elegiac lyricism, as in his meditation on family history, "Flying into St. Louis": "For sixty-five years/ I've blamed my mother and father,/ I've climbed their trees and lopped off/ their branches, I've held/ their words in my mind like cudgels." At other times, however, the colloquial takes over and Carruth's verse becomes almost flat, as in "The Chain": "but I am a poet and you are too and so are all people/ except the monsters of this world/ out there planting/ mines in the mud and snow...." Despite its lesser offerings, the collection amply illustrates the openness and honesty with which Carruth addresses the world, the mixed compassion and outrage with which he responds to it and his continued productivity through a long, distinguished career. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Although Carruth here declares "Truth and Beauty/ were never the/ aims of proper poetry,'' there's plenty of both in this affecting volume. "When we say I/ miss you/ what we mean is "I'm/ filled with/ dread''; "Was it the way of your world, too, old master, that everyone had to be/ a villain in someone else's life?"; "This is the summer of war in Bosnia./ A few summers ago the war was somewhere else." Carruth drops such aphoristic insights with ease, and they hit like gentle little blows alerting us to what is at the heart of our experience. Every line is perfectly polishednot "crafted," which seems far too deliberate and forced a word for this easy-flowing poetry, but smoothed as if the words had been rolled around and around the tongue like good whiskey (and maybe even scrambled eggs). These poems, all written since the publication of Collected Shorter Poems, 1946-1991 (LJ 4/1/92), which won the National Book Award, demonstrate that Carruth is still at the top of his form. Recommended for all poetry collections.Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Ray Olson
Carruth has often pondered the icon that is Robert Frost--the old poet wryly at odds with his country and thereby embodying its favorite self-image. Now he is old enough to be the Frost of his generation; he is just that when he spins a lilting, metrically exact, carefully rhymed "Homage to Edwin Muir" or fires off a slangy couplet on "The Last Poem in the World" : "Would I write it if I could? / Bet your glitzy ass I would." Yet he is very much of his generation--poets for whom Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams were more influential than Frost. He shares Pound's love of the classical Chinese masters, expressing it here in the sequence "A Summer with Tu Fu" ; another sequence he imagines as "Faxes to William," and there are echoes of Williams throughout this book. Other generational passions Carruth upholds are a fierce antiwar stance and existentialism; he often uses them for satiric seasoning. Finally, there is personal passion here, for "I am in love now, / In it totally all the time. / I have nothing else, I have forgotten my name . . ." Contemporary American poetry doesn't get any richer than this.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556591099
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1996
  • Pages: 140
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet 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 & 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 & 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.

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Table of Contents

Five-Thirty AM 3
Flying into St. Louis 4
Solemnization 5
Wife Poem 6
The Hyacinth Garden in Brooklyn 7
Another 9
The Soft Time of the Year 10
Birthday Cake 11
Quality of Wine 13
Resorts 14
California 15
A Summer with Tu Fu 17
Auburn Poem 30
August 1945 32
Snow Storm 33
Testament 35
Endnote 37
Folk Song: On the Road Again 38
Forty-Five 40
The Last Poem in the World 41
Homage to Edwin Muir 42
April Clean-Up 43
I, I, I 44
In Pharaoh's Tomb 45
Bennington Poem 46
Alteration 47
Ecstasy 48
February Morning 49
The Woodcut on the Cover of Robert Frost's Complete Poems 51
Particularity 52
Rubaiyat 53
Saturday at the Border 54
Surrealism 55
The Camps 57
Swept 64
The Best, the Most 65
The Brook 66
The Chain 67
Isabel's Garden, May 14 69
Lilac Time 71
The Curtain 72
Window Blind 74
Mort aux Belges! 75
Pittsburgh 76
Overlooking Pittsburgh 78
Faxes to William 79
Good Old Word Blues 86
Graves 87
Waterloo 88
What to Do 89
Notes on Poverty 90
Song: Now That She is Here 91
The Beat 92
In the Long Hall 93
The Woods 94
This Morning 95
Thorntrees 96
In Georgetown 97
Prepare 98
Little Citizen, Little Survivor 100
Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey 101
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