Manuel Komroff (1890-1974)
Gelatin silver print, c.1933
Edward Estlin Cummings is particularly attractive to people discovering poetry for the first time. Look! There is no punctuation or capitalization. He’s breaking all the rules! Cummings’s verse embodies a sense of anarchic freedom from structure and regulations that is liberating and attractive at first. But the effect begins to pall with repetition. For Cummings, rule-breaking was really only superficial: he just didn’t like the regulations about punctuation or grammar. Alternatively he was fond of rhyme and traditional forms like the sonnet. His cultural critique tended toward the satiric rather than the radical or the deeply thought-out. Curiously, reading him one is reminded of a “traditional” poet like Edward Arlington Robinson rather than a true breaker of forms like Ezra Pound or William Carlos Williams.
I was sitting in mcsorley’s.
outside it was New York and beautifully snowing.
Inside snug and evil.
the slobbering walls filthily push witless creases of screaming warmthE.E. Cummings
From [I was sitting in mcsorley’s], 1925