E. E. Cummings: A Poet's Life

Overview


Even before his groundbreaking style helped change the landscape of American poetry, E. E. Cummings was going against the grain. Defying the traditionalists of the early 20th century, Cummings lived a life devoted to the shifting archetypes of art and literature, and wrote some of the most celebrated poetry of the modern era. Nearly a century after his first works were published, E. E. Cummings is still inspiring readers. Noted nonfiction writer Catherine Reef provides a well-rounded portrait of Cummings while ...
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Overview


Even before his groundbreaking style helped change the landscape of American poetry, E. E. Cummings was going against the grain. Defying the traditionalists of the early 20th century, Cummings lived a life devoted to the shifting archetypes of art and literature, and wrote some of the most celebrated poetry of the modern era. Nearly a century after his first works were published, E. E. Cummings is still inspiring readers. Noted nonfiction writer Catherine Reef provides a well-rounded portrait of Cummings while examining the culture in which he lived as he developed his craft. Serving as both an exploration of his rich and sensational life as well as a foundation from which readers can learn about his work, this comprehensive biography includes Cummings’s original sketches and paintings, quotes from friends and family, photographs, and the poetry of Cummings and his peers. Bibliography, endnotes, index.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[A] compelling, thoroughly researched survey of Cummings's fascinating life...that will speak directly to teens." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

"An excellent resource for students of the poet's literary works, this is also a solid example of literary biography." School Library Journal, Starred

"Careful research and judicious quoting allows Cummings to speak for himself and his contemporaries to speak upon him." (starred review) Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"A cogent biography weaves life and poetry together for an appreciative look at the unconventional and exacting artist." Kirkus Reviews

"Cummings's life reads like a romantic adventure, though Reef takes care to include his darker moments of conflict." Horn Book

"Black-and-white photographs vivify the facts, while the spacious format gives Cummings's words room to spread out." Horn Book Guide, Pointer

Children's Literature - Carlee Hallman
This fascinating biography of a major American poet of the 20th century relates his life to the social and political context of the times. He was called by his middle name, Estlin, and preferred that his name be written as "e. e. cummings" using idiosyncratic capitalization. While a young man at Harvard, he was already writing his unusual form of poetry and painting in the cubist style. A helpful formula for understanding his poetry is presented: "Sometimes, he pried a word open with a phrase wrapped in parentheses to show that two events or thoughts occur at the same time." He is portrayed as a delightful, entertaining boy who never grew up. His two marriages ended in divorce, and he never married his later companion, Marion Morehouse. He and his first wife had a child, Nancy, whom he acknowledged only later in life, but never fulfilled her desire for a father. In Paris and Greenwich Village, he partied with the notables of his day. His friends included Hart Crane, William Carlos Williams, and Ezra Pound. Later he settled on his family's farm. At 56, having published several books of poetry, he began to win prizes and have financial security. His mother had continually furnished support. This book is a gem for anyone interested in this poet, his poetry, or his times.
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up
Reef has penned an engaging and informative chronicle of the life of this talented and unconventional artist. Each chapter is packed with details of cummings's life and work, all carefully documented with source notes. Period photos and reproductions, including a number of cummings's drawings and paintings, illustrate his life and the world events that he experienced. His unique poetic style is explained and illustrated with well-chosen selections. His financial hardships as well as his romantic struggles and failed relationships are also examined. An excellent resource for students of the poet's literary works, this is also a solid example of literary biography, and as such should also appeal to readers interested in the lives of noteworthy artists. A high-quality effort.
—Elaine Fort WeischedelCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
A cogent biography weaves life and poetry together for an appreciative look at the unconventional and exacting artist. Reef takes readers from the happy childhood that nurtured his flair for theatrics, as well as his ear for language and rhythm, through his career at Harvard, where he encountered the avant-garde, to his rather feckless adulthood, in which his only real constant was his dedication to his art. Braided into this flowing account are the artistic and literary lions Cummings met along the way, the loyal friends and family who supported the poet as he traveled and wrote and the women he loved and sometimes married. An abundance of archival illustrations sets the scene throughout, and Cummings's poetry is reproduced in its full typographical idiosyncrasy. Graceful commentary on the poems, both as works themselves and as they related to events in his life, make this effort stand out. It would have been made even stronger with fuller contextualization of Cummings's work among his contemporaries; as it is, it represents a solid introduction to one of the early 20th-century's more provocative American poets. (notes, bibliography, glossary, index) (Biography. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618568499
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 12/11/2006
  • Pages: 149
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 1130L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Catherine Reef is the author of more than 40 nonfiction books, including many highly acclaimed biographies for young people. She lives in College Park, Maryland.

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