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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