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February 11 2014

20:54

we asked for poems; you gave us poems

When we asked you for your favorite e.e. cummings poem in the lead up to our Feb. 11 hour the much-beloved American poet, we weren’t sure if you would deliver. There’s no judgement or prejudice there: we really didn’t know if our many followers, fans and listeners would have enough impish delight to make for a meaningful bit of spontaneous poetry.

Let us say here on the record: we were very, very wrong.

Your reaction to the Facebook post on Monday evening carried over into today, and we’re glad that you all love Edward Estlin Cummings as much as our guest, author Susan Cheever (whose great new biography of the poet is on sale now, by the way). Some of your favorites are sampled here; you can many more at your local library or bookstore or on such great sites as poets.org or poetryfoundation.org.

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond

any experience,your eyes have their silence:

in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,

or which i cannot touch because they are too near

 

your slightest look easily will unclose me

though i have closed myself as fingers,

you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens

(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

 

or if your wish be to close me, i and

my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,

as when the heart of this flower imagines

the snow carefully everywhere descending;

 

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals

the power of your intense fragility:whose texture

compels me with the color of its countries,

rendering death and forever with each breathing

 

(i do not know what it is about you that closes

and opens;only something in me understands

the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)

nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

 

[in Just-]

in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

 

whistles          far          and wee

 

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
spring

 

when the world is puddle-wonderful

 

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far          and             wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

 

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

 

it’s
spring
and

 

         the

 

                  goat-footed

 

balloonMan          whistles
far
and
wee

anyone lived in a pretty how town

anyone lived in a pretty how town

(with up so floating many bells down)

spring summer autumn winter

he sang his didn’t he danced his did

 

Women and men(both little and small)

cared for anyone not at all

they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same

sun moon stars rain

 

children guessed(but only a few and down they forgot as up they grew

autumn winter spring summer)

that noone loved him more by more

 

when by now and tree by leaf

she laughed his joy she cried his grief

bird by snow and stir by still

anyone’s any was all to her

 

someones married their everyones

laughed their cryings and did their dance

(sleep wake hope and then)they

said their nevers they slept their dream

 

stars rain sun moon

(and only the snow can begin to explain

how children are apt to forget to remember

with up so floating many bells down)

 

one day anyone died i guess

(and noone stooped to kiss his face)

busy folk buried them side by side

little by little and was by was

 

all by all and deep by deep

and more by more they dream their sleep

noone and anyone earth by april

wish by spirit and if by yes.

 

Women and men(both dong and ding)

summer autumn winter spring

reaped their sowing and went their came

sun moon stars rain

07:41

the joy and rebellion of e.e. cummings

Susan Cheever on the poet e.e. cummings, all lower-case, and radical.

Poet e.e. cummings, pictured on the cover of Susan Cheever's new biography,

Poet e.e. cummings, pictured on the cover of Susan Cheever’s new biography, “E.E. Cummings: A Life.” (Random House)

Guest

Susan Cheever, writer and author of “E.E. Cummings: A Life.” Also author of “Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography,” “Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction,” “American Bloomsbury,” and “Home Before Dark.” (@susancheever)

From Tom’s Reading List

Vanity Fair: The Prince of Patchin Place — “Nothing was wrong with Cummings—or Duchamp or Stravinsky or Joyce, for that matter. All were trying to slow down the seemingly inexorable rush of the world, to force people to notice their own lives. In the 21st century, that rush has now reached Force Five; we are all inundated with information and given no time to wonder what it means or where it came from. Access without understanding and facts without context have become our daily diet.”

The Wall Street Journal: Book Review: ‘E.E. Cummings’ by Susan Cheever — “”Susan Cheever met Cummings, who was a friend of her father, the writer John Cheever, but her book never quite makes its ambitions clear. She provides a narrative synthesis of the three previous biographies by Charles Norman (1958), Richard S. Kennedy (1980) and Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno (2004), outlining the poet’s life from childhood to death. She plays with the chronology of events, beginning at nearly the end, then circling back as a novelist might to find the poet’s beginnings, yet the book offers virtually no new research and has little to say about Cummings’s working life.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Susan Cheever elegantly blends biography, memoir and cultural history in ‘E. E. Cummings: A Life’ – “At Harvard, Peck’s Bad Boy replaced the Little Lord Fauntleroy in Cummings, and Cummings père, a local minister, was not pleased. In college, Cummings fils discovered the allures of alcohol and sex, wrote for student publications and would soon begin the experiments with punctuation, capitalization, grammar and line spacing that still make his work immediately recognizable.”

Read An Excerpt From “E.E. Cummings: A Life” By Susan Cheever

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