Hayden's Ferry Review


This Week in Literary History: Cummings, The Pen and the Brush

Graduation photo, 1911
For our trip into literary history let’s give E.E Cummings, born Edward Estlin Cummings on October 14th 1894, belated birthday wishes. Cummings was of course a poet, who was well known for his experimental forms, but what he is not as well know for is his paintings. He worked primarily in oils on many different surfaces, even burlap. And just as he did with his poetry Cummings was willing to be open and experimental with his art. During his life his paintings were criticized as being simple, but in looking at his collection, which can be found here, one can see the beauty of landscape, shape and form expressed sometimes exuberantly sometimes softly. And while Cummings sought popularity with his poetry he did not with his paintings, choosing instead to explore color, form and feeling without the pressures of critics.
So in honor of Cummings let’s take a look at some poetry, as I think he would have been excited by what he would have read in the HFR Fall/Winter 2008-2009 issue. Begin with Dorothea Grunzweig’s poem, translated by Derek Wynand, ”Twins Are Bound by an Invisible Twill”:
                                 the deadanddeadlikeness
                                 the paired fate moves the whole nation
                                 for many think not only of twins
                                 but also of siblings
                                 loved ones      parent and child

Once you’ve finished, continue both forward and back to discover many wonderful pieces of poetry, and of course stop for a piece of fiction or two.

Next move on to the Paterson Literary Review, number 39, 2011-2012. Start with John Barrale’s “That Once You Were Mine”:
                                    and memory joking
                                                takes the cane
                                    and walks up the stairs

Don’t stop there. Pages upon pages of poetry and prose await your reading pleasure. And I’m certain that you won’t be disappointed.