Friday, November 14, 2008

Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey - Remembering Carruth

I came to Hayden Carruth in the same way many people probably have: a friend shared with me Carruth's cantankerously hilarious Regarding Chainsaws” , and that was it. (Who knew a poem could be written about something like that? "The first chainsaw I owned was years ago, an old yellow McCulloch that wouldn't start....") So it began. The poem itself, and, my love of Carruth's powerful ability to speak to the spirit of the people and everyday experiences of the rural life he lived. That was many years before I found out I would be living here. Carruth came to Burlington for a reading in the autumn of 2004, very soon after I had moved to Vermont. Attending his reading was my first social outing as a ‘new’ Vermonter. (Though of course the first rule of BEING a Vermonter is knowing there really isn’t such a thing as being a new one). Everything seemed to align as he took the stage on that cold afternoon. The auditorium filled with wool scarves and thick boots and plaid jackets and just the kind of fortified ‘North Winter’ atmosphere that permeates his poems. And, yes, he finished the reading with “Regarding Chainsaws” – he said it himself, how could he not?

Hayden Carruth died in September. This Sunday evening at 7:30 VPR offers a remembrance of the poet in a special project I’ve been very pleased to work on with a fellow Carruth fan, Betty Smith. I hope you’ll join the remembrance as we share a piece of supermarket pie, rev up the McCulloch, and raise a glass of whiskey in “A Tribute to Hayden Carruth”! [You can also listen at VPR.NET: Carruth Tribute ]

Cheryl Willoughby
VPR's Interim Director of Programming

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