Doctor Jazz

Hayden Carruth

In his first collection of poems since he won the National Book Award for Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey, Carruth writes the threadbare memories of old age, and from the bleakest circumstances—such as the death of his daughter—reclaims dignity and beauty. With the spit and bop of a jazzman playing all the right notes, Carruth lives his music, finding the low tones of terrible loss, the highs of great friendships.

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ISBN: 9781556591938

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781556591631

Format: Hardcover

About the Author

Hayden Carruth (1921–2008) lived for many years in northern Vermont, then moved to upstate New York, where he taught in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Syracuse University. He published twenty-four books of poetry, a novel, four books of criticism, and two anthologies. He served as the editor of Poetry, poetry editor of Harper’s, and for twenty-five years as an advisory editor of The Hudson Review. The Bollingen, Guggenheim, and Lannan Foundations, as well as the National Endowment for …

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“‘A memorious old man’ approaching his ninth decade, Carruth continues to question authority, fate, circumstance, and our assumptions about aging… His sense of humor surfaces repeatedly, and if the domestic marginalia of sequences like faxes to William seem lighter than air, the elegiac gravity of ‘Dearest M—,’ on a daughter’s death, refuses to release us until its final syllable.” —Library Journal, starred review

Doctor Jazz can be read as Hayden Carruth’s survival journal of his seventh decade, in which this tough-bird author of more than twenty books of poetry lauds the unexpected power of ‘petty endurance.'” —New York Times Book Review

“‘The magnitudes / always defeat me,’ Carruth writes in this book of poetry, his thirty-first. ‘But what / abundance! What plenitude!’ An elegy for his daughter grounds the collection, along with powerful poems on the hardships of contemporary rural life, and yet Carruth remains great fun to read. He is as at home with the prison riots of Attica as he is with Odysseus or Jelly Roll Morton—he is the consummate poet of easeful learning and well-tuned orneriness. Perhaps this is why, at eighty, Carruth—unlike his great master, Frost—keeps getting better.” —New Yorker

“Carruth’s new poems are, essentially, songs of praise and celebrations of beauty; for all the real anguish and pain they record, they remain enactments of a fundamental attitude of faith and wonder that has always run through his work.” —Times Literary Supplement

“Carruth writes frankly about uncomfortable subjects: old age, sickness, poverty, death. But this is not heart-on-your-sleeve stuff. These are the things poetry used to be about, after all—things Basho and Han Shan knew. Carruth’s brutal honesty in the face of these facts—call them truths, if you like—is reminiscent of Pär Lagerkvist’s great line, ‘Someday you will be one of those who lived long ago.'” —Poetry

“Outstanding… This book is what poetry is all about.” —Eddie T.L. Tadlock, from a “Reader Response” card

“… just as vigorous and sharply observed as ever… Carruth, with sensitivity, elegant technique and a populist’s candor, writes of many things, and all are important.” —Ann Arbor News

Doctor Jazz displays the seemingly effortless skills of a mature artist, coupled with wisdom and a crusty sense of humor.” —Oregonian

“The revered winner of American’s National Book Award achieves a rare thing: he writes from the heart… Doctor Jazz is a classic collection. It makes you want to buy Carruth a drink. Or buy the book.” —South China Morning Post

“Among contemporary American poets, few speak with a more authoritative voice than Hayden Carruth… His work resonates with the power of American speech: direct and democratic, energetic and open.” —Wichita Eagle