Bits and bytes gives you more Carruth; enjoy.

Here’s some true-blue Hayden, as delivered by George Kanzler, reviewing Ask Me Now: Conversations On Jazz & Literature (Indiana University Press, 2007; Sascha Feinstein, editor):

But some of the most astute comments, impressions and apercus about jazz come from the poets. The reclusive Hayden Carruth, while acknowledging that recording technology has been “a lifesaver for me and for music in general,” says it has “some unfortunate aspects to it. I do think that jazz ... has evolved too fast, and I think in part that’s because of recordings. Musicians can listen to what they’ve done, and listen to what other people have done, too easily. And then the urge for novelty overtakes them.” 

This is, of course, where we live now. But novelty need not mean mass-produced trinket. I remember my arguments for novelty as delivered by Henry Threadgill falling on kindly but deaf Carruthian ears. And Hayden felt this way about Mingus at times. But I take his point. His “too easily” is loaded, underpinning “novelty.” It’s not that creation should be difficult; it’s a question of attention, which is everything for creators and observers of art. Hayden desired and urged better attention.

Here’s the opening of the poem mentioned last weekend. To technology!

Regarding Chainsaws

by Hayden Carruth

The first chainsaw I owned was years ago,
an old yellow McCulloch that wouldn't start.
Bo Bremmer give it to me that was my friend,
though I've had enemies couldn't of done
no worse. I took it to Ward's over to Morrisville,
and no doubt they tinkered it as best they could,
but it still wouldn't start. One time later
I took it down to the last bolt and gasket
and put it together again, hoping somehow
I'd do something accidental-like that would
make it go, and then I yanked on it
450 times, as I figured afterwards,
and give myself a bursitis in the elbow
that went five years even after
Doc Arrowsmith shot it full of cortisone
and near killed me when he hit a nerve
dead on. Old Stan wanted that saw, wanted it bad.
Figured I was a greenhorn that didn't know
nothing and he could fix it. Well, I was,
you could say, being only forty at the time,
but a fair hand at tinkering....

Read this poem and others in Carruth’s Collected Shorter Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 1992).


Comments (3)
  1. mesol says:

    very literature article indeed. quite heavy for moderate reader.

  2. Robert Pinksy answers a question about electronic technologies displacing older technologies.

Comments are closed.

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