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Paul Carroll


Paul Carroll was born on July 15, 1927, in Chicago, Illinois. After serving in the United States Navy, he received a BA from the University of Chicago in 1948 and an MA in 1952.

He wrote several books of poetry, including The Beaver Dam Road Poems (Big Table Publishing, 1994), New and Selected Poems (Yellow Press, 1978), and Odes (Big Table Publishing, 1969). He also published several anthologies, including The Young American Poets (Big Table Publishing, 1968), and a work of literary analysis, The Poem in Its Skin (Follett Publishing, 1968).

Carroll is also known for his involvement in the Chicago poetry community and his championing of the Beat poets and other new and unique voices in poetry. With Irving Rosenthal, he coedited the Chicago Review from 1957 to 1959, and he cofounded Big Table in 1958. In 1965, he cofounded Big Table Publishing Company with Philip O’Hara, Frank O’Hara’s brother.

In 1974 Carroll founded The Poetry Center in Chicago and the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois­–Chicago, where he taught from 1969 to 1992. He also hosted a radio show called “The Name and Nature of Poetry” from 1974 to 1982. In 1985 he received the Chicago Poets Award from the city’s Office of Fine Arts.Carroll married Maryrose Carroll, a sculptor, in 1977. He died on August 31, 1996, on a farm near Vilas, North Carolina.

Selected Bibliography


The Beaver Dam Road Poems (Big Table Publishing, 1994)
Garden of Earthly Delights (City of Chicago, 1987)
New and Selected Poems (Yellow Press, 1978)
The Luke Poems (Big Table Publishing, 1971)
Odes (Big Table Publishing, 1969)

The Poem in Its Skin (Follett Publishing, 1968)

By This Poet



To be able to walk along and see
the fierce green sun
the meadow grass the tall gently bobbing weeds
then to take a walk inside yourself
and see trees tall as Tom Thumb
It’s always raining here     It never rains
I’m strolling among the shadows of everyone
     I’ve ever loved
But this morning I was flying with the birds
Not knowing like the map there was a destination
But it was fun
Like making love on Tuesday instead of
     our customary Sunday afternoon
I’ve learned to suffocate death
and continue doing so all day

Fragments from an Abandoned Ode

The Sicilian bees     They move inside the mind
Our souls are as big as Rome
Her body like a mirror
A statue made of words
The dwarf of love
Bring the wine that heals the summer’s wounds
A wife of freshly fallen snow
The first night of the world—its stars and
     moons still move inside our arteries
Who is the one who carries the horizon in his eyes?
A honeycomb of lies
He writes a letter to his death at 24
10,000 yesterdays gathered on the shelves of
     the library
Leave a photo of yourself behind


I want to write a poem the birds will understand
and the snakes and stones
the trees with their
               secrets and green faces
Let it enchant the dolphins and the whales
when they are courting in the middle of the ocean
Let it talk with the aborigine
who knows the moon’s a person in the sky
And should it be the last poem in the world
let it be among the first in worlds we’ve never
seen                                 where it may talk to rivers
there                                                       and animals we’ve only
seen in dreams                                              Let it walk
around in rooms                                                      where
God’s footprints have remained behind
Let it be something I’ve been unable to imagine here
There’ll be fish there             I may be riding on the
            back of one today
Will the poem be about the cheetahs and the wind
we only see when we’re in love?