Happy Birthday, E.E. Cummings!

by Kim on October 14, 2008 · 3 comments

Today marks two important days — E.E. Cummings’ birthday, and the start of what I hope is going to be a regular feature on my blog — Birthdays!  I went through a list of my favorite authors to find their birthday, and now I hope I can add a little post about them on their special day.  The first author to celebrate is E.E. Cummings.

Edward Estlin Cummings was born on October 14, 1894 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He attended Harvard University where he got his B.A. and Masters in English and Classical Studies.  While there he began writing poetry and became friends with another author I enjoy, Jon Dos Passos.

I don’t know a ton about Cummings poetry, and, quite frankly, am terrible at analyzing poetry.  So, I turned to a good friend, Kirsten Strissel, to write a little about the impact of Cummings poetry which I am going to post separately and link to once it’s done.

One thing I can add is that I’ve always wondered about his name — capitalized or not?  According to an article by Norman Friedman, it should be capitalized.  The whole capitalized or not controversy started after some publishers thought Cummings’ name should not be capitalized because Cummings was  “lowercase poet” and therefore his name shouldn’t be capitalized either.  Friedman acknowledges that Cummings often used varying capitalization and spacing to relate effects of his poetry both verbally and visually, but says this is not evidence enough to not capitalize his name.

After looking through correspondence between Cummings and a friend, Friedman found that Cummings said he would prefer his name be capitalized.  Since Cummings put a lot of thought and effort into the style and capitalization of his poetry, it seems important that we try to get his name right — E.E. Cummings.  However, if anyone has evidence they’d like to give me to the contrary, please do (I didn’t spend a ton of time looking around online for more than this).

Anyway, without further ado…

Happy Birthday, E.E. Cummings!

Photo by flickr user dan taylor

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

bermudaonion October 14, 2008 at 10:22 pm

What a great idea for posts! I love it

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Rebecca Reid October 15, 2008 at 10:29 am

I’d heard that about E.E. Cummings, that the editor is the one who started lowercasing it. I would think he’d be annoyed….

I like this idea as a feature as well!

Reply

Kim October 15, 2008 at 12:23 pm

bermudaonion: Awesome, I’ll keep doing these then.

Rebecca: Oh good, I’m glad someone else heard E.E. Cummings would be annoyed too.

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