Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Authorial Spotlight

Favorite poet of all time?

E.E. Cummings.


Because - unlike the bigguns of Yeats, or Eliot, or Ginsberg, those cheap, paper-back, dimestore fairies - Cummings writes like a true poet. He writes about love and loving, about life and living. He writes so uniquely that you'll never mistake his work for another's. He plays with grammar and structure and font and display on the page. Unfortunately, he is also relatively obscure. Nobody teaches him all that much. Nobody in my entire college career has devoted half the time to Double-E Cummings as they have to boring foghorns like Keats or Longfellow or Robert Fucking Frost.

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He is a consummate poet because he isn't well-recognized. He exists outside the spectrum of academia, and consequently outside their ivory towers of literati judgment, handing down red-stamp rejection or green-stamp glory. He exists in the world, and that is enough for me.

I'd like to share some snippets of his work that I find need to be shared. It's a paltry introduction, but hey! I'm no exemplar for the literary arts. I'm just your dearly beloved blogger, giving ya'll a piece of mind on the daily. So, without further ados, here we go!

"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"

"My theory of technique, if I have one, is very far from original; nor is it complicated. I can express it in fifteen words, by quoting The Eternal Question And Immortal Answer of burlesk, viz. "Would you hit a woman with a child?— No, I'd hit her with a brick." Like the burlesk comedian, I am abnormally fond of that precision which creates movement."

"Why do you paint?
For exactly the same reason I breathe.
That’s not an answer.
There isn’t any answer.
How long hasn’t there been any answer?
As long as I can remember.
And how long have you written?
As long as I can remember.
I mean poetry.
So do I.

Your poems are rather hard to understand, whereas your paintings are so easy.
Of course—you paint flowers and girls and sunsets; things that everybody understands.
I never met him.
Did you ever hear of nonrepresentational painting?
I am.
Pardon me?
I am a painter, and painting is nonrepresentational.
Not all painting.
No: housepainting is representational.
And what does a housepainter represent?
Ten dollars an hour.
In other words, you don’t want to be serious—
It takes two to be serious."

"It may take two people to make a really beautiful mistake"

"we sans love equals mob"

"unbeingdead isn't beingalive"

 and my personal favorite quote by him, "I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance."

Hope ya'll enjoyed it!


6 footnotes:

Anonymous said...

I think the first one is beautiful, especially the last stanza. My favorite poems/poets are all Spanish, though I agree that Frost is boring, and IMO highly overrated.

Zek J Evets said...

@jasmin: glad we agree on frost =)

what spanish poets do you like?

Anonymous said...

Have you ever read Becquer? (I actually saw his birthplace when I went to Sevilla, which was exciting.) My favorite poem by him is Rima LIII (Rhyme 53)--best breakup poem ever.

Rima LIII is tied for my favorite poem with the villancico, "No te tardes que me muero" by Juan de Encina. It's the best "unrequited love" poem ever. I don't know about Rima, but you can listen to Amancio Prada sing "No te tardes" on Youtube (my profs tend to like doing that :-P).

My favorite literary period is el Barroco, though I read those poems for their beauty, not their content. I'll explain about hipérbaton and such later; I feel a nerd attack coming on. :-P

Si los buscas, dime si necesitas ayuda traduciéndolos. :-)

Anonymous said...

I love Sylvia Plath's poetry. Along with William Blake--his poems were easy and simple to understand.

Zek J Evets said...


Sylvia Plath, not so much. William Blake is pretty good though.

Anonymous said...

"Sylvia Plath, not so much."

Yeah, Sylvia Plath may be a tad bit too "emo,"",goth," "dark," and "gory" for most people.