El tema central de este Blog es LA FILOSOFÍA DE LA CABAÑA y/o EL REGRESO A LA NATURALEZA o sobre la construcción de un "paradiso perduto" y encontrar un lugar en él. La experiencia de la quietud silenciosa en la contemplación y la conexión entre el corazón y la tierra. La cabaña como objeto y método de pensamiento. Una cabaña para aprender a vivir de nuevo, y como ejemplo de que otras maneras de vivir son posibles sobre la tierra.

jueves, 26 de enero de 2012

Hayden Carruth, el radicalismo de un poeta libertario

Hayden Carruth (1921-2008)

"My poems, I think, exist in a state of tension between the love of natural beauty and the fear of natural meaninglessness or absurdity." (Hayden Carruth)

Hayden Carruth was born in 1921, in Waterbury, Connecticut, and educated at both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Chicago where he gained an MA. After serving in the Second World War, he became editor of Poetry Magazine, one of America's most distinguished literary journals. In his early thirties, he suffered a breakdown - succumbing to the agoraphobia which continued to haunt him all his life. In the Sewanee Review (1999), he describes his state of mind: "Agoraphobia… is the scream lurking in your gorge, so ready to burst that the least noise above a cat's purr makes you tremble: when the marching band from the high school practices in the street outside you sit in the back of the closet, when the March wind lashes the treetops at night you crawl behind the sofa."

His first collection The Crow and the Heart (1959) was written after his release from a 15 month stay in a psychiatric hospital. He has said in interview: "I was so impressed and so full of the experiences I'd had in that hospital, and the observations of other unfortunate people who were there, that I wanted to write about them." He not only felt a need to separate this experience from any writing he'd ever done, but also from any other writing that had gone before, so he invented a new form he calls a 'paragraph'. This is basically a 15 line almost-sonnet, rhymed, and written in iambic pentameters and with a tetrameter couplet in the middle. He explains why he felt this form appropriate: " 'Paragraph' originally meant a graph outside the main graph. In other words it was a mark that manuscript copiers in the Middle Ages used to indicate a break in the text."

Carruth enjoyed invention and compared his poetry to jazz : "Quite consciously in some poems, I tried to imitate the rhythms and tones and textures of jazz music. Jazz, if you analyze it, is like poetry in some respects. It's an improvisatory, impromptu art." He was a keen jazz musician and also wrote of its influence on him in an essay published in a collection of his prose pieces: Effluences from the Sacred Caves (1983.) He writes of the liberation that jazz allows a musician (and indeed poet) who improvises around a frame or structure, saying that in the process he "transcends the objective world . . . and becomes a free, undetermined sensibility in communion with others equally free and undetermined."

Carruth's agoraphobia forced him for many years to live in seclusion in the glades and mountains of northern Vermont. He said in interview that this isolation made him a "somewhat rebellious and stubborn person." and that his poetry and prose styles reflected this. He worked as a freelance journalist and also as a farm laborer. Carruth was attracted to the language and speech patterns of the people around him in the mountains : "the honest country people, the laborers, and people who had real folk habits in their speech. I loved to listen to them, and tried to imitate them in my poems."

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. His 1983 collection Brothers I Loved You All, has been described as Carruth at his 'improvisational best.' The central poem of the book - 'Vermont', navigates history, politics, quirky personalities, subtle changes in diction, is part free-verse and part formal poetry.

In 1996, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey. This recognition was welcomed by the Virginia Quarterly Review for 'a poet who has never received the wide acclaim his work deserves and who is certainly one of the most important poets working in this country today. . . . [He is] technically skilled, lively, never less than completely honest, and as profound and deeply moving as one could ask.'

The title poem of the collection is included in this recording, and is testament to Carruth's honesty. This gentle, affecting poem is made more poignant by his slightly wavering delivery. 
All poems are from 'Hayden Carruth: A Listener’s Guide.' Copper Canyon Press, 1999. 

Song: Now That She is Here
for Jo-Anne

An old man now, who’s learned at last
What it means truly to be in love.
Ah, all those years of the past-
I used to think I knew but I didn’t know.
Like a neophyte in the school of lust,
Struggling with my shame and doubt,
I fell and lay low,
Because I thought I knew when I didn’t know.
Old age is failure. Natural
Exhaustion, mind and body letting go,
Words misremembered, ideas frayed like old silk.
But I am in love now,
In it totally all the time.
I have nothing else, I have forgotten my name,
I live on taters, whiskey and goat’s milk
In a little house by the wood
While a cold wind rises and the night fills with snow,
Who used to think I knew. But now I know.

Hayden Carruth and Jo Anne

Hayden Carruth: El 29 de setembre de 2008 mor a la seva casa de Munnsville (Madison, Nova York, EUA) el poeta i crític literari llibertari Hayden Carruth. Havia nascut el 3 d'agost de 1921 a Waterbury (Connecticut, EUA). Fill de l'editor de periòdics Gorton Veeder Carruth i de Margery Barrow Carruth, va passar la seva infància, marcada pels anys de la Depressió, a Waterbury i estudià a Chapel Hill (Universitat de Carolina del Nord) i a la Universitat de Chicago. Quan va esclatar la Segona Guerra Mundial va servir dos anys en les forces aèries. Va viure molts anys a Johnson (Vermont, EUA). Durant més de seixanta anys va escriure una trentena de llibres de poesia, novel·la, assaigs (sobre jazz i blues) i crítica literària (Safo, Virgilio, Blake, Wilde, Thoreau, Sartre, Carver) i ensenyà Creació Literària a la Universitat de Siracusa, on va ser professor i mentor de nombrosos joves poetes, com ara Brooks Haxton i Allen Hoey. Va editar Poetry Magazine durant vint anys i treballà d'assessor literari en Harper's Magazine i The Hudson Review. Va rebre diverses beques (Bollingen, Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Arts, Lannan Literary, etc.) i aconseguí diversos premis literaris. En 1997 guanyà el Premi Nacional del Llibre de Poesia pel seu Scrambled eggs and whiskey (1996) i en 1992 fou guardonat amb el premi del Cercle Nacional de Crítics Literaris pel seu Collected Shorter Poems. Durant els últims anys residí amb sa esposa, la poetessa Joe-Anne McLaughlin Carruth, a Munnsville (Stockbridge, Madison County, New York, EUA). Els seus poemes, influenciats pel jazz, pel blues i per l'existencialisme, estan caracteritzats pel seu radicalisme polític i per un alt sentit de la responsabilitat cultural, retratant especialment la pobresa rural, les condicions de vida difícils de la gent i de les poblacions del nord de Vermont, els treballadors clandestins, etc. Altre dels seus temes predilectes és el de la follia i la no follia, fruit de les seves experiències quan va ser hospitalitzat entre 1953 i 1954 pels seus problemes psiquiàtrics (depressió crònica i intent de suïcidi) i amb l'alcohol. Com a crític literari fou especialista en Albert Camus. En 1998 publicà Reluctantly, una mena d'assaigs biogràfics.
( Catalan language) (http://anarcoefemerides.balearweb.net/post/104298)

by Hayden Carruth

Sometimes we don’t say anything. Sometimes
we sit on the deck and stare at the masses of
goldenrod where the garden used to be
and watch the color change form day to day, 
the high yellow turning to mustard and at last 
to tarnish. Starlings flitter in the branches 
of the dead hornbeam by the fence. And are these 
therefore the procedures of defeat? Why am I 
saying all this to you anyway since you already 
know it? But of course we always tell 
each other what we already know. What else? 
It’s the way love is in a late stage of the world. 
(from “Collected Shorter Poems” Copper Canyon Press, 1992)

“A poem is not an expression, nor is it an object. Yet it somewhat partakes of both. What a poem is is never to be known, for which I have learned to be grateful.” ~ Hayden Carruth

Hayden Carruth-b. August 3, 1921
photo by Al Campanie. 
(...) It’s hard, and no doubt unnecessary, to put a label on him. He was a rebel (if that word is still valid in this country) steeped in the old Yankee tradition. Born in Connecticut. Finding peace and himself for a long time in Vermont, a landscape for solitariness and the singular ‘leave-me-alone voice. The rural spoke to him and he to it. I’m sure the Beats would have liked to claim him. But in his ‘ordinary’ language, there was always more than a whiff of the classic. He could write, speak it out of both sides of his mouth.

Typically “Carruthian’…he challenged Frost a little (whom he seemed to love, in a New England-ish sort of way) and had a real quarrel with Thoreau. Felt he pandered to nature rather accepted the challenge for what it was…stood up to it. But that’s another story–to be found more in his prose than his poetry.(...)

(...) He fled to the backwoods of northern Vermont, where he began to write the poetry that would win him critical acclaim and a raft of literary prizes, including the National Book Award. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1987.(...)

The Cows at Night

The moon was like a full cup tonight, 
too heavy, and sank in the mist
soon after dark, leaving for light 

faint stars and the silver leaves
of milkweed beside the road, 
gleaming before my car. 

Yet I like driving at night 
in summer and in Vermont: 
the brown road through the mist 

of mountain-dark, among farms 
so quiet, and the roadside willows 
opening out where I saw 

the cows. Always a shock 
to remember them there, those
great breathings close in the dark. 

I stopped, and took my flashlight 
to the pasture fence. They turned 
to me where they lay, sad 

and beautiful faces in the dark, 
and I counted them–forty 
near and far in the pasture, 

turning to me, sad and beautiful 
like girls very long ago 
who were innocent, and sad 

because they were innocent,
and beautiful because they were
sad. I switched off my light. 

But I did not want to go, 
not yet, nor knew what to do 
if I should stay, for how 

in that great darkness could I explain
anything, anything at all.
I stood by the fence. And then 

very gently it began to rain.


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