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Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey -- Hayden Carruth

My thanks to Rajat Sharma for introducing me to this poem...
(Poem #684) Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey
 Scrambled eggs and whiskey
 in the false-dawn light. Chicago,
 a sweet town, bleak, God knows,
 but sweet. Sometimes. And
 weren't we fine tonight?
 When Hank set up that limping
 treble roll behind me
 my horn just growled and I
 thought my heart would burst.
 And Brad M. pressing with the
 soft stick and Joe-Anne
 singing low. Here we are now
 in the White Tower, leaning
 on one another, too tired
 to go home. But don't say a word,
 don't tell a soul, they wouldn't
 understand, they couldn't, never
 in a million years, how fine,
 how magnificent we were
 in that old club tonight.
-- Hayden Carruth
There's nothing, absolutely _nothing_, like the excitement of a good jazz
performance... Carruth does a wonderful job of capturing both the magic of
the show, and the harshness of the setting [1]. And in a strange, almost
mystical way, the former redeems the latter, leaving the speaker, his fellow
musicians, and the audience in a state of exaltation, as it were...



Hayden Carruth was born on August 3, 1921, in Waterbury, Connecticut, and
was educated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the
University of Chicago. For many years, Carruth lived in northern Vermont. He
now lives in upstate New York, where until recently he taught in the
Graduate Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University. Noted for the
breadth of his linguistic and formal resources, influenced by jazz and the
blues, Carruth has published twenty-nine books, chiefly of poetry but also a
novel, four books of criticism, and two anthologies. His most recent books
are Reluctantly: Autobiographical Essays (Copper Canyon press, 1998);
Selected Essays & Reviews; Collected Longer Poems; Collected Shorter Poems,
1946-1991 (awarded the National Book Critics' Circle Award); and Scrambled
Eggs and Whiskey (1996), which won the National Book Award for Poetry.

Informed by his political radicalism and sense of cultural responsibility,
many of Carruth's best-known poems are about the people and places of
northern Vermont, as well as rural poverty and hardship. He has been editor
of Poetry, poetry editor of Harper's, and, for 20 years, an advisory editor
of The Hudson Review. Carruth has received fellowships from the Bollingen
Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the
Arts, and a 1995 Lannan Literary Fellowship. He has been presented with the
Lenore Marshall Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Vermont Governor's
Medal, the Carl Sandburg Award, the Whiting Award, and the Ruth Lilly Prize,
among many others.

        -- The Academy of American Poets,
[broken link]
(The above website also has links to several other Carruth poems).


Here's an essay on Carruth's life and his poetry:
[broken link]

Adrian Mitchell's wonderfully laidback "Jimmy Giuffre Plays 'The Easy Way'"
is both very different from today's poem, and startlingly alike; read it at
poem #337

7 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Deborah Dessaso said...

I love this poem! Hayden Carruth is one of the few poets who believed (and I firmly agree) that poets should abandon the comfort of the academy and the coffeehouse and get some dirt under their nails by working as, say, a stevedore on a loading dock or a waitress in a truck stop restaurant. Last year, in a paper I wrote arguing for a truce between literary and nonliterary writers, I used a quote from Hayden about his fascination with the common reader-- who Hayden, in his inimitable style, referred to as the "bozo[s] on the other side of the park bench."

His is a voice much missed!

Deborah Dessaso

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