Thursday, January 21, 2010

an honest American poet

In the suddenness of my research of Hayden Carruth, I discovered this essay on his poetry and the quality of his friendship by, of course, Wendell Berry and the following response to an invitation to the White House in 1998.

April 7, 1998

President and Mrs. Clinton
The White House
Washington, D. C. 20500

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Clinton:

This is to acknowledge your invitation to attend a "Millennium Evening" at the White House in celebration of American poetry on April 22nd. Thank you for thinking of me. However, it would seem the greatest hypocrisy for an honest American poet to be present on such an occasion at the seat of the power which has not only neglected but abused the interests of poets and their readers continually, to say nothing of many other administratively dispensable segments of the population. Consequently, I must decline.

Yours sincerely,

Hayden Carruth


There is so much bitterness, irony, and sheer playfulness in this terse, formal reply... the fruits of honesty perhaps.

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