National Poetry Month: e.e. cummings

April is National Poetry Month which has got me thinking I don't spotlight nearly enough poetry here. I am no poetry guru, but I do enjoy reading it from time to time. My very favorite poet is e.e. cummings, followed closely by Elizabeth Bishop. I had a love affair with e.e. cummings' poetry in college and later discovered Bishop.

e.e. cummings is a non-traditional poet, experimenting with form, structure and syntax to create an innovative and fresh take on 20th century poetry. For me he is probably the most accessible avant-garde poet. He plays with language in a way that reminds me why I enjoy language so much, and that delights me. If you aren't familiar with his work I suggest you check out 100 Selected Poems which contains one of my favorite cummings poems, "who knows if the moon's":

who knows if the moon's
a balloon,coming out of a keen city
in the sky--filled with pretty people?
(and if you and i should

get into it,if they
should take me and take you into their balloon,
why then
we'd go up higher with all the pretty people

than houses and steeples and clouds:
go sailing
away and away sailing into a keen
city which nobody's ever visited,where

Spring)and everyone's
in love and flowers pick themselves


  1. I wish I enjoyed e.e. cummings more but I think I need a class or something to explain his stuff to me.

    Bishop on the other hand, I have a whole book of her poetry. Granted I bought it for a class but still... :)

  2. Red, I'm going to do a little write up on Bishop next week! As far as e.e. cummings I never took any modern poetry classes that covered him and I'm sure there's a lot to learn.

  3. I have a confession. I know next to nothing about poetry. Case in point: I always thought e.e. cummings was a woman. Thank you for teaching me something today!

  4. Sarah, That's ok! I'm happy you learned something :)

    The above fore-mentioned, Thanks!

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  6. Deleted above because of a typo in one of the lines - no big deal if it's my words; rather more important if I'm attempting to quote.

    I too claim e. e. cummings as my first real poetry love . . . and also later moved on to Bishop. I've got a few posts about Bishop that reveal my concern that maybe I had "lost" my connection to her work - and then rejoiced when I found it again. One of my favorite cummings' lines:

    I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing / than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance

    ooh - and also -

    nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

    and perhaps my very favorite:

    suppose / Life is an old man carrying flowers on his head.

    Thanks for giving me a reason to pull out my Selected Poems and to delight in his language with you!

  7. I love that particular cummings collection too, and I picked one of his for Thursday's Poem In Your Pocket Day challenge over at http://whatsheread.blogspot.com!