Hayden Carruth Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Hayden Carruth (kar-REWTH) grew up in New England, and the rural areas of northern Vermont and upstate New York have provided the settings for many of his poems. He earned a B.A. degree in 1943 from the University of North Carolina, spent two years in the Army Air Corps in Italy during World War II, and then earned the M.A. in 1947 from the University of Chicago. From 1949 to 1950 he was editor of Poetry magazine, and between 1950 and 1951 he was an associate editor at the University of Chicago Press. In 1953 he suffered a psychological collapse and was hospitalized at Bloomingdale asylum in White Plains, New York, where he underwent electroshock therapy—his experiences at Bloomingdale were the impetus for his powerful and disturbing poem “The Asylum,” which appeared in The Crow and the Heart, and for The Bloomingdale Papers, which were written in the early 1950’s but not published until 1975. Carruth was poetry editor of Harper’s magazine from 1977 to 1983, and he became a consulting editor with The Hudson Review in 1971. His affiliations with various schools included a position as poet-in-residence at Johnson State College in Vermont, 1972-1974, as adjunct professor at the University of Vermont, 1975-1978, and as professor in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University, 1979-1985 and 1986-1991. He also taught at Bucknell University, 1985-1986. He died in central New York in 2008 at the age of 87.

Carruth’s technical skill is displayed in a range of verse forms; he shows an intense concern for questions of form, and for this reason he might be grouped with such poets as Richard Wilbur, Theodore Roethke, and the early Adrienne Rich. However, Carruth’s speakers are often rural and semiliterate, as can be seen in the lines “I mind one time down to the Grange/ Sucking up them venison meatballs/ They put on at...

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(Poets and Poetry in America)

Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1921, Hayden Carruth spent most of his life in New England. He was graduated from the University of North Carolina and earned his master’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1948. Carruth’s military experience during World War II was important to his work. Perhaps even more important, by his own account, were his struggles with mental illness. The long and painful recovery from being institutionalized in 1953 led to his living in relative isolation and considerable poverty in northern Vermont for much of his working life. Married four times (the fourth time to Joe-Anne McLaughlin in 1989), Carruth had two children, Martha, who died of cancer in her forties, and David Barrow II, the latter present in many poems as “Bo.”

Carruth earned his living as a freelance reviewer and editor before taking a teaching position at Syracuse University in 1979. He accepted a one-year professorship at Bucknell University from 1985 to 1986 and returned to Syracuse University until 1991, when he was made a professor emeritus. He then turned his energy to owning and operating Crow’s Mark Press in Johnson, Vermont. Carruth died on September 29, 2008, in Munnsville, New York, after suffering a series of strokes.


(Poetry for Students)

Hayden Carruth was born on August 3, 1921, in Waterbury, Connecticut, to Gorton Veeder Carruth, a newspaper editor, and Margery Barrow...

(The entire section is 710 words.)