Effluences from the Sacred Caves

More Selected Essays and Reviews
Hayden Carruth
Collects essays and reviews by one of America's foremost poets, essayists, and jazz aficionados


The contribution of Hayden Carruth to literary theory lies principally in the sector of the relationship between art and life. Over the past thirty years, working partly from a base in secular existentialist thought and partly from his own experiences as a working poet, he has trained his sights on the procedures of human imagination and the responsibilities of the artist. Most of his writing has been in scattered essays and reviews, many hundreds of them, from which the generous selection in Effluences from the Sacred Caves has been taken.

Hayden Carruth's books of poetry include Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey: Poems 1991-1995, Collected Shorter Poems, and Collected Longer Poems. His awards include the Lannan Literary Award, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Praise / Awards

  • "Carruth, a poet who has earned his bread and butter for thirty years as a free-lance reviewer, is one of the best professionals around. His secret ingredients are balance, readability and intelligence, in equal parts. Since he once harbored a desire to be a systematic critic . . . even his short pieces combine ideas about poetry with journalistic reportage on the literary scene. These are reviews and essays that, despite their incumbent brevity, one can learn from and also enjoy. Subjects include Spenser, Frost, Thoreau, MacLeish, Pope, J. F. Powers, Sarraute, Evan Connell, Levertov, Barth, Loren Eiseley, Hollander, Creeley, Cummings, Ginsberg. There is also a brief section on jazz as a fine art, which is persuasive enough to reform a non-listener. Taken as a whole, the book describes a life devoted to poetry and letters. Piece by piece, the collection provides a brilliant object lesson on what Carruth would call 'the cultural responsibility' of that 'humblest laborer in the vineyard'--the reviewer. Read him, and take notes."
    --Publishers Weekly

  • ". . . essays and reviews on a variety of literary subjects as well as on Carruth's great love beside poetry, jazz. . . . Hayden Carruth is a poet whose work should be known and enjoyed by more readers than he now has, and an important, original critic who should be listened to by everyone with an interest in the present and future state of American poetry."
    --Washington Post Book World

Product Details

  • 5-1/4 x 8.
  • 280pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1984
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06349-9

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  • $21.95 U.S.