Monday, April 25, 2011

When The World Was Mud Luscious

I wrote a great deal of poetry in High School and College, but not so much now.  I think the poetry was mostly therapeutic then–a function that my prose writing fulfills for me now.

One of my favorite poets, whom I discovered in College, is e. e. cummings.  (I’m told that he never used the lowercase version of his name in his own lifetime, but I find it so clever and indicative of his style that I prefer it)   Edward Estlin Cummings is often considered one of the progenitors of the avant garde style of poetry, and indeed, at first glance, his typographical playfulness would seem to back that up.  But behind the syntactical wordplay lies the heart of a romantic and traditionalist.  When reading cummings, one must almost make two passes at his work; one to glean surface level intentions of his type and line spacings, and another to absorb the meaning behind the words. 

Take this poem, for example:


in Just-
spring              when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles              far                and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far                  and                      wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it's
spring
and

         the

                       goat-footed

balloonMan                                  whistles
far
and
wee

The choppiness of the words; the way he splits some sentences and yet runs some words together suggests a breathlessness and passion to the scene.  Spring is here; excitement is in the air.  The textual layout thus enhances the impact of the poem.  But at its base, beneath the typographical tricks, is a simple celebration of the exuberance of childhood, when the world can truly be both mudluscious and puddle-wonderful. 

Moving into today’s writing time, I’m going to use In Just as a prompt and see what sort of story I can come up with.  Hopefully, it will be just as breathless and bizarre.

Write On!

Chris

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