The Beautiful and the Absurd: The Poetry of Hayden Carruth

Hayden Carruth (1921-2008) was crazy for two things all his life: poetry and jazz music. From the age of six, when these dual passions first developed until his death 80 years later,  he penned more than 30 published books of poetry, prose, criticism and essays. Throughout them all, as in the best jazz compositions, creative improvisation springs and riffs off a foundation of discipline and mastered craft. But Carruth’s poetry also reflects a profound and existential dynamic tension “between the love of natural beauty and the fear of natural meaninglessness or absurdity”.

Here, POBA’s partner the Vermont State Arts Council has given us some of his most eloquent poems that make transparent how he reconciled the oppositions of precision and improvisation, love and fear, discipline and madness, the beautiful and the absurd. They speak for themselves.