Last Poems

Hayden Carruth. Copper Canyon (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (218p) ISBN 978-1-55659-381-9
Carruth (1921–2008) was, by the time of his death, regarded as a major figure in American poetry, having written for decades poems that are morally astute, in deep sympathy with nature and yet not estranged from humanity’s will to destroy it. This unusual book combines his last 40 pages of unpublished poetry with the final poem from each of his previous books, making for a powerful monument to this poet’s career. The new poems are, unsurprisingly, elegiac, full of conversational good-byes and regrets buoyed by a dash of kind humor: “The next time you see a line/ Of geezers shuffling toward the checkout/ Remember they are entering the arcade of/ Death,” he writes in “See You Tomorrow.” Elsewhere, he thanks the long-dead poet James Wright “for that/ astonishing blurb you wrote for my book/ years ago.” Thinking back on a vacation spot he’ll never revisit, Carruth asks, “Can you imagine how much I wish I were/ there? No, you cannot, my dears. Especially not/ In the little time we have left to us.” The last poems from Carruth’s previous books are also hauntingly final. Lines Carruth wrote decades ago to his daughter now, taken differently, stand as truthful parting words to his readers: “I can address you only in my mind,/ Or, what’s the same, in this untouching poem.” (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/16/2012
Release date: 06/01/2012
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 120 pages - 978-1-61932-024-6
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