Reluctantly: Autobiographical Essays

Hayden Carruth

Reluctantly presents intellectually engaged, uncompromisingly honest essays by the author of National Book Award winner Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey. Despite being among the most erudite poets of this century, Carruth has lived his life largely outside academia, mastering his craft in a cow shed beside a wood stove. His autobiographical essays chronicle a lifetime of wrestling with demons and muses, time spent hospitalized for severe chronic depression, his passionate love of jazz and blues, a suicide attempt, and most of all an uncommon, unflinching devotion to honesty.

ISBN: 9781556590894

Format: Paperback

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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“Carruth, now in his 70s, demonstrates that there is more to being a poet than merely wearing one’s neuroses on one’s sleeve… Eccentric, opinionated and cantankerous, Carruth shows that although life is messy and unpredictable, it is possible to survive, to write well and to salvage from the wreckage a redemptive dignity.” —Publishers Weekly

“These three essays read like poems: they start abruptly and ramble purposefully over a variety of topics before concluding in surprising and appropriate ways. As a result, the tragedies assume their proper proportion in life… If Carruth’s woes loom large, his joys grow even larger, and his treatment of both proves to be a triumph the reader is privileged to share.” —Library Journal, starred review

“From early childhood, Carruth says, he has known that the universe is sad, existence is pointless, and values are inventions. Out of such an outlook, he has created a powerful autobiography… Carruth reconfirms the rule that men and women of letters write the best autobiographies.” —Booklist, starred review

“…[A] succinct and wonderful book… frank, curmudgeonly wisdom.” —Kirkus Reviews

“[Carruth] has a voice at once educated and vividly direct.”—The Threepenny Review

Reluctantly… offers… enduring substance… and insight into the life and mind of one of the great poets of our age.”—Contemporary Literary Criticism

“These touching and intimate essays reveal the integrity of Hayden Carruth—one of the most solitary, esteemed, and controversial poets of this century.”—American Poets Magazine