Let me begin with introducing who E.E.Cummings is, first. Born on October 14, 1894, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, E.E.Cummings went on to become an innovative poet known for his lack of stylistic and structural conformity, as seen in volumes like Tulips and Chimneys and XLI Poems. After self-publishing for much of his career, he eventually found wide recognition.
A playwright and visual artist as well. He died in 1962.
So what or how did he do anything to me? Well, it’s not so much the way one may think. He didn’t hit me, he didn’t talk to me, and I never even knew him. He did, however, open my eyes to a nonconformist take on poetry. I came across his poem: r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r , a work that takes understanding the movement of a grasshopper to read it. My first impression, as a young teen, was that it was bizarre and interesting. I had, up to that point, in my life never seen a poem done in such a way. It was just so visual!
I learned more about the man over time, when the internet came into the world and eventually took over. He did so much in his life. I could see myself, a few years back, in a position he and many others had been in. Struggling. I had found a publisher, but my own self-doubt killed my attempt to contact them. (I’m not going to repeat that story as I’ve talked about it a lot over the years and just don’t feel like doing it again.) I then decided, like Mr. Cummings, to self-publish.
His visual take on poetry has been labeled witty or even whimsy, but for me, it broke down walls. What he taught me coupled with advice I came across from author Anne Rice on Youtube, I began writing what I enjoy. Writing what I want and need to write. Readers will eventually find my work and enjoy what I’m producing. This took a great deal of pressure off of me, personally and professionally.
So again, what did Mr. Cummings do to me? He helped me find courage, he helped me see things from a different perspective. He also allowed me to see more than ‘I can be just a writer’. He helped me start on a journey of really enjoying poetry.