Saturday, February 7, 2009

Blog Presentation: [l(a]

e.e. cummings…
· Edward Estlin Cummings was born on October 14, 1894 in Cambridge, Massachusetts
· Son of Edward and Rebecca Haswell Clarke Cummings
· American poet, painter, essayist, playwright, and author
· Received B.A. and Masters from Harvard University between 1911-1916
· Wrote both untraditional and traditional (sonnets) forms of poetry
· Interesting Fact: Despite popular belief, he did not, according to his widow, legally change his name to “e e cummings.” He actually never specified whether he preferred the lowercase or uppercase version of his name.

Paintings by e. e. cummings

[l(a] by e.e. cummings






· separation of the words "loneliness" and "a leaf falls" as the basis of the poem. The poem seems to be mainly about just that--loneliness. Cummings is comparing a leaf falling from a tree to loneliness, which, I believe, is quite a valid metaphor. The image of a single leaf falling from a tree in the fall gives a feeling of loneliness and emptiness.
· Cummings begins by separating the word loneliness from the beginning to the end of the poem. He is conveying that loneliness is separation and that it's both physical and mental. While we may feel mentally lonely (as represented in the metaphor of the leaf falling) we can also be physically lonely as represented by the spacing of the word.
· the letters "la" and "le", the first two lines of the poem, are the feminine and masculine forms of the word "the" in French. In putting such a large gap between the two, he may be suggesting the separation of men and women. He is saying that without a companion or lover, humans feel the ultimate separation and loneliness.
· The 5th line is simply two lowercase L's next to each other: "ll". These L's can be looked at as "ones" when they are viewed as a single line in a poem. In putting them together, Cummings is saying that in the middle of loneliness, that the root of loneliness is one on one contact. Humans simply want one person to attach to and then loneliness is demolished. This can be further supported by his putting the letters O, N, and E on a line together spelling out the word "one." This seems intentional because it is one of the only lines with more than two letters on it.

Blog Presentation: Woodchucks

Maxine Kumin…
· Born on June 6, 1925 in Philadelphia
· Daughter of Jewish parents
· Received her Bachelors and Masters from Radcliffe college
· Wrote poems, essays, short stories, children’s books, and novels
· Won Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1973 for Up Country
· She was a poetry consultant for the Library of Congress and Poet Laureate of New Hampshire
· Interesting Fact: In 1995, Kumin became a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets but resigned four years later, along with Carolyn Kizer, in protest over the board's reluctance to admit poets of color. This act led to an entire reconstruction of the institution's bylaws.

A PIECE OF THIS ARTICLE- From One Poet's Notes
Friday, June 6, 2008
When encountering Maxine Kumin’s poetry one can sometimes become lulled by the steady and resolute direction of her unpretentious sentences. Whether guided by traditional forms and a regular rhyme or filled with the more relaxed sense of free verse, Kumin’s work normally ends up engaging the reader as she steers the content toward a determined end. Even the patterns in her poems, deliberate meditations on nature or mortality and dramatic pieces reflecting personal or political perspectives, rarely seem very surprising and are hardly suspenseful. Yet, this poet’s usually careful control of language and overriding tone frequently prove persuasive enough to enlighten and enrich.

"Woodchucks" by Maxine Kumin

Gassing the woodchucks didn't turn out right.
The knockout bomb from the Feed and Grain Exchange
was featured as merciful, quick at the bone
and the case we had against them was airtight,
both exits shoehorned shut with puddingstone,
but they had a sub-sub-basement out of range.

Next morning they turned up again, no worse
for the cyanide than we for our cigarettes
and state-store Scotch, all of us up to scratch.
They brought down the marigolds as a matter of course
and then took over the vegetable patch
nipping the broccoli shoots, beheading the carrots.

The food from our mouths, I said, righteously thrilling
to the feel of the .22, the bullets' neat noses.
I, a lapsed pacifist fallen from grace
puffed with Darwinian pieties for killing,
now drew a bead on the little woodchuck's face.
He died down in the ever-bearing roses.

Ten minutes later I dropped the mother. She
flip flopped in the air and fell, her needle teeth
still hooked in a leaf of early Swiss chard.
Another baby next. One-two-three
the murderer inside me rose up hard,
the hawk eye killer came on stage forthwith.

There's one chuck left. Old wily fellow, he keeps
me cocked and ready day after day after day.
All night I hunt his humped-up form. I dream
I sight along the barrel in my sleep.
If only they'd all consented to die unseen
gassed underground the quiet Nazi way.

Some different POVs:

i. Lauren- parallel with the Holocaust
ii. Tommy/Charlie- the “hawk-eye killer”
iii. Michaela- possible parallel between people and woodchucks?

What do you guys think? Is Kumin paralleling the killer with humans or the woodchucks? Is it possible that it is both? Are we both the murderers and victims at the same time?