Hayden Carruth grew up in Woodbury, Connecticut, and was educated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at the University of Chicago. He lived in Johnson, Vermont for many years. Carruth taught at Syracuse University, in the Graduate Creative Writing Program, where he taught and mentored many younger poets, including Brooks Haxton and Allen Hoey. He resided with his wife, poet Joe-Anne McLaughlin Carruth near the small central New York village of Munnsville. He wrote for over sixty years. Carruth died from complications following a series of strokes.
Carruth authored more than 30 books of poetry, four books of literary criticism, essays, a novel and two poetry anthologies. He served as editor of Poetry magazine, as poetry editor of Harper's, and as advisory editor of The Hudson Review 20 years. He was awarded a Bollingen Prize and Guggenheim and the NEA fellowships.
In 1992 he was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for his Collected Shorter Poems and in 1997 the National Book Award in poetry for his 1996 book Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey. Shortly after the debut of Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey, he also won the $50,000 Lannan Literary Award. His later titles include the 2001 collection of poems Doctor Jazz and a 70-minute audio CD of him reading selections from Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey and Collected Shorter Poems. Other awards with which he was honored included the Carl Sandburg Award, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the 1990 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Vermont Governor's Medal and the Whiting Award.
Noted for the breadth of his linguistic and formal resources, influenced by jazz and the blues, Carruth's poems are 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, addressing loneliness, insanity, and death. One of his most celebrated poems is "Emergency Haying".
The Voice That is Great Within Us, 1970: an influential anthology of American poetry.
The Mythology of Dark & Light, 1982: a long poem published as a limited edition chapbook, later republished in Collected Longer Poems
Mother, 1985: a long poem published as a limited edition chapbook, later republished in Tell Me Again How the White Heron Rises and Flies Across the Nacreous River at Twilight Toward the Distant Islands (1989) and subsequently gathered in Collected Longer Poems