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.