Thursday, October 02, 2008

Farewell, Hayden Carruth

On Monday September 29, Vermont Poet Laureate Hayden Carruth died. The Washington Post offered an obituary that laid out the markers of his career.

But the greatest significance of Carruth's life here in the north country lies in his immense generosity of heart: Every recent gathering of poets around him has included many who told of being accepted, adopted, and nurtured by this powerful poet. His door and his life were open to people who hungered to write honest, rich poetry and who sought him out.

Dave and I traveled to Bennington earlier this year to attend Carruth's reading there, an event coordinated by Wyn Cooper as part of the college's anniversary celebration. Carruth's wife JoAnne McLaughlin, another poet, accompanied him, teased him gently, made sure he had the support he needed for the effort -- he was nearly blind and on oxygen; yet as poets and friends arrived and talked with him and hugged him, his voice and energy rose and inflated, and when he took the stage, he seized it and almost wouldn't let it go, offering poem after poem. And McLaughlin, in vivid silk garb, was a flaming presence in the room.

We already miss him. Thank goodness, he's given us a wide body of poetry to hold and repeatedly savor.


Unknown said...

Thanks for giving a little memory of the Wyn Copper tribute--perhaps the last time Carruth read?

I just found out today that he had died. He was a great and underappreciated poet.

Beth Wellington said...

Thanks for the personal remembrance of a great-hearted poet.