I vividly remember my introduction to the poetry of e.e. cummings, via a film called "The Boy Who Liked Deer”, shown to our class in Junior High. I can’t remember the reason we were shown it, but the trauma it inflicted is still fresh in my mind. I’m not going to spoil the story (you can watch it here, but seriously, this recommendation comes with some heavy trigger warnings) but I will say the poem is by overshadowed by the heavy-handed emotional tragedies that two characters experience.
It took finding a reference to his work in The Perks of Being a Wallflower to make me finally work through my aversion and give e.e. cummings another try. Thankfully, e.e. fares better in this book. While Charlie’s English Teacher provides a lot of off-curriculum book recommendations, he discovers e.e. outside of the classroom via Mary-Elizabeth, who gives him collection of the author's poetry. It does take some convincing, however, for Charlie to finally commit to reading it.
I also came across yet another, if slightly oblique, reference. In Matched, the main character Cassia is secretly introduced to the work of Dylan Thomas, but in an interview author Ally Condie speculates that Cassia would also most likely have been a fan of e.e. cummings, among others, had she lived in this time.
So what is it about e.e. cummings?
Experimenting with line and word spacing, and writing in lowercase before it was cool, cummings was one of the literary pioneers in the early 20th Century who broke conventions of English language; how it could be used, and what it could mean. You can find more about him through our resources in the e-library. We also have a healthy collection of his poems in various collections.
In the end, I decided to revisit “In Just”, a poem in celebration of spring. Admittedly, it’s not my favourite poem by the author, but definitely not deserving of the, ah, ‘critique’ it receives from the boy who liked deer.