Poetry Friday

h1 October 13th, 2006 by jules

*{Note: Head on over to A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy for this week’s Poetry Friday round-up} . . .

Hi there. Jules and Eisha here again . . .

There’s, apparently, this tradition in some parts of the world of blogging-about-books in which poetry is shared and celebrated every week on Friday. And in the world of blogging-about-children’s-books, in particular, this not only occurs but also some of the authors of some of our favorite blogs — including Big A little a — do a nice round-up of the poetry selected for that week (we mention her, in particular, as a way to thank her as well for answering our questions about Poetry Friday). Eisha and I have always been big ‘ol poetry geeks. I mean, reeeally. We used to leave random literature excerpts in one another’s campus mailboxes in college (back in The Day before this new-fangled thing we call electronic mail), calling it our Literature Exchange — favorite passages from our favorite novels, maybe even play excerpts, even kickin’ song lyrics, but most of the time, poetry. Not our original creations, mind you, but hand-copies of our favorites, left for one another to brighten a day or at least make it a bit more thought-provoking, a Dylan Thomas here and a Rilke there (I still have my handwritten poems from Eisha. Aw!). So, we have decided to join the Poetry Friday fun. This means: a poem, a review of a poetry anthology, and/or some such poetry-related thing — each Friday (if we’re organized enough). Woo hoo! Share the news with your part of the world!

Jules: I have the honor (thanks to Eisha) of picking the poem for our first Poetry Friday entry . . . Tomorrow is the first birthday of one of my daughters; I can hardly believe a year has gone by. Anyway, this time last year when she was born, my mother, I believe it was, informed me that E.E. Cummings (just read that he did not approve of publishers spelling his name in lowercase — who knew?) was born on the same day (over a hundred years ago, of course). My heart did a little leap, ’cause I have always loved his poetry — so has Eisha. And I continually lament the fact that he is often written off as a poet for “just” teens, as if his poetry doesn’t quite meet the standard set for adults. I think his poetry is quite sophisticated, thanks very much, and I think teens deserve sophisticated, illuminating poetry, too, so there . . .

In honor of him, my daughter, and the fact that the two of them share a birthday — which I think is so devastatingly cool — here is one of his poems, originally published in 1958’s 95 Poems. Yes, it’s in its entirety, but quoting an excerpt would be too difficult, due to the length (or lack thereof). I hope no copywright police nab me:

your birthday comes to tell me this
–each luckiest of lucky days
i’ve loved,shall love,do love you,was

and will be and my birthday is

(Happy birthday, Wizzy — if you read this one day . . . )

p.s. What a babe! Oh, and what a babe!

eisha: Thanks for a perfect selection, Jules! To continue the theme, I’d like to mention a lovely collection of E.E. Cummings’ (Really, Jules? He wanted the capitals? It just looks weird…) poetry that came out last year, in a volume specifically marketed for teens but that has plenty of adult appeal as well.

Love: Selected Poems Love: Selected Poems; by E.E. Cummings, art by Christopher Myers. In this slim, picture-book sized volume, the always-excellent Mr. Myers has incorporated a combination of portrait photography, painting, and mixed-media collage to create vibrant, kinetic illustrations for 19 of Cummings’ love poems. In the most successful of the illustrations, Myers’ style is a fitting compliment to the text. The cover illustration, for example – of a young African American man holding a tiny wooden door over his heart, with cut-paper birds flying out across his shoulder – is paired with the lovely “may my heart always be open to little / birds who are the secrets of living…” poem. A couple of images are a little too static, though, and unfortunately the highly sexual poem “may i feel said he” has the most unsexy illustration of all. But the striking gorgeousness he achieves in the majority of the illustrations makes up for the less-than-perfect ones. If you haven’t seen this one yet, then I suggest you treat yourself to the dual charms of Messrs. Cummings and Myers posthaste.

11 comments to “Poetry Friday”

  1. Aww. Look at the lil’ punkin!

  2. What a great story about you two in college! I love it 🙂

    I’m glad you guys joined in. Happy Friday!

  3. yes, gives all new meaning to the adoration, “punkin’ head” (she’s also a puddin’ head, but i don’t quite see how i can dress her up as pudding). my mom snapped that pic at her house (The Grandma Paparazzi). i always feel weird sharing personal stuff online, but it’s hidden there in a link and at least not splattered all over the post (the picture, that is).

    thanks for the welcome, Kelly, and for answering our questions about Poetry Friday….

    your turn to pick next week, eisha. it’s the Lit Exchange in an all new format. fun!

  4. I’m running out to buy that book….

  5. Thanks for this post. I never knew Cummings was considered a poet for younger people. I always lumped him in with the rest of the biggies. Some of my favorite lines of poetry are from his stuff:

    Anyone lived in a pretty how town
    with up so floating many bells down

    joy was his song and joy so pure
    a heart of star by him could steer
    and pure so now and now so yes
    the wrists of twilight would rejoice


  6. Nancy, now that I’m being asked, I am not totally sure exactly *where* I have heard that e.e.-snobbery before, but I just know I have. (Anyone else?) . . . Sometimes he’s lauded as great for teens in *particular* (and in addition to all), but then other times I’ve heard/read him lauded as great for teens but not quite good enough for adults, particularly as if his poetry is just the stuff of youthful fancies that we all will grow out of. Balderdash, huh?

  7. Yay, Crissa! Glad you’re inspired.

    And thanks so much, Nancy, for the beautiful lines.

  8. One thing I love about Cummings is that even while he writes in a way that looks obscure on the surface (and pure so now and now so yes), when I read his poems, I GET them. Which I think is an incredible talent on his part.

  9. Happy birthday to E.E. and E.Eisha.

  10. eisha, just got a library copy of this book you reviewed. and, yes, “may i feel said he” is disappointingly illustrated. would love to know what myers was thinking there….i have a beloved book that is this poem with Chagall illustrations — technically, a picture book format (but it’s not marketed that way), published by Stewart, Tabori, & Chang (they also did Ntozake Shange’s poem “I Live in Music” with paintings by Romare Bearden). don’t even know if these are still published (??), but they’re so great. anyway, thanks for telling us about this book. rock on, Poetry Fridays . . .

  11. Both are still in print:

    may i feel…

    I live in music

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