Joseph Hutchinson Recalls Discovering Hayden Carruth

I found Carruth’s For You & From Snow and Rock, From Chaos in a used book store in Seattle in 1974 & read & reread it while sitting in the projection booth of the Apple Theater on Boren Street showing dirty movies to the down & out. I had recognized his name because I head the anthology he had edited, The Voice that is Great Within Us, but no one had ever talked about him in any poetry class I’d ever taken & I’d taken a few. In many ways, Carruth’s work educated me as a poet. It remains central & indispensable to me.

Hutchinson says much of what I would say about Carruth. I was surprised to see that we had both come from Blake’s poems to our modern master. Also, it has been Carruth’s existentialism that hs kept me coming back to him. People look at you funny — I know — if you tell them you’re an existentialist, but that’s what I am. Carruth’s humanity & that his poetry emerged fiercely from love have struck me all over again as I have read through the volume of longer poems over the last few months.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.