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E.E. CUMMINGS by Catherine Reef


A Poet’s Life

by Catherine Reef

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Nov. 13th, 2006
ISBN: 0-618-56849-2
Publisher: Clarion

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)