By Molly Minturn
October 6th, 2008
We are saddened by the death of poet Hayden Carruth, whose contributions to VQR began in 1948 and continued for another four decades. Carruth once wrote that he was grateful to VQR for publishing “practically everything I sent … during the dark time when I was struggling to make a go of it in the north woods of Vermont.” But we are grateful that Carruth chose to publish such classics as “North Winter” and “Emergency Haying” in our pages. His poetry called attention to economic injustice and captured fleeting moments of human connection through images of farm labor and lonely New England landscapes. Though he struggled with poverty and psychological problems, Carruth published over thirty books and was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize in 1990, the Lannan Foundation literary award in 1995, and the National Book Award for poetry in 1996. He also served as editor of Poetry magazine, and boldly gave the Bollingen Prize to Ezra Pound in 1949, a controversial choice, given the political circumstances of the time. His passing is a great loss to the world of letters, and VQR is honored to have been a home for so much of his poetry and criticism. A further look back on Carruth’s relationship with VQR can be found in our latest VQR Vault.
The New York Times published an obituary a few days ago, Youtube has a video of Carruth reading his poem “Ray,” and Poets.org has a number of poems online, including audio of him reading “Of Distress Being Humiliated by the Classical Chinese Poets” and “The Cows At Night.”