E.E. Cummings Annotated Bibliography Essay

                                               E.E. Cummings Annotated Bibliography

            The bibliography assembled below offers a comprehensive introduction to the life and works of the poet E.E. Cummings. Biographical details, such as Cummings’ early training in poetry and literature, Cummings’ service in World War One, and his later, adult life are important to understanding his poetry; Friedman’s book “E.E. Cummings: the Growth of a Writer” connects important biographical details to the major works of Cummings’ career.Because Cummings generated an original style and form for his poetry, it is important for the bibliography to include works by literary scholars and critics which attempt not only to understand and explicate his poetry, but to place it in relation to the other poets of his age. Cowley’s book “A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s” as well as Baum’s “e.e. cummings and the Critics” elucidate the important literary resonances and influences of Cummings’ work.  Finally, Cummings’ own poems in “The Collected Poems” and Billy Collins’ article in The Wilson Quarterly, “The Inaudible Poet” give a concrete reference point for Cummings’ poetry itself, as well as a guide to contemporary estimations of its influence and scope.

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Friedman, N. (1964). e. e. cummings: The Growth of a Writer. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois            University Press.

            This source traces the life and works of E.E. Cummings in close connection to one another, highlighting Cummings’ most important works in prose and poetry and chronicling the evolution of his thought and literary style. Friedman places Cummings’ work in a cohesive perspective, giving biographical as well as literary interpretations for the work.

Baum, S. V. (Ed.). (1962). e.e. cummings and the Critics. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State      University Press.

            This source gathers together a series of essays written on Cummings’ work, including essays which were contemporaneous with Cummings’ life. The broad range of scholars, including Marianne Moore, Laura Riding, Edmund Wilson and other notable literary figures provides what is, obviously, the most authoritative critical survey of Cummings’ work.

Cowley, M. (1994). A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s (D. W. Faulkner, Ed.). New York: Penguin Books.

            An important literary “memoir” by one of America’s most noted editors and poets, which includes a moving survey into Cummings’ work and life. Also, Cowley’s book gives the “flavor” of the time-period in which Cummings worked by recounting his own experience with that generation of poets and writers. This source is crucial in establishing Cummings as an important part of the literary generation between the wars.

Cummings, E. E. (1938). Collected Poems. New York: Harcourt, Brace.

            No secondary source can adequately demonstrate Cummings’ unique approach and creations in poetry. It is necessary to include copious referencing to the poetry itself in order to understand Cummings’ work, life, and impact on American literature. The Harcourt Brace edition may be considered definitive and reliable.

The Inaudible Poet. (2005, Summer). The Wilson Quarterly, 29, 105+.

            This is an article by the American poet Billy Collins which attempts to “re-envision” the impact of Cummings’ work on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Collins examines both the traditionalism and “experimentalism” in Cummings’ work which is an important aspect of all of his literary output.

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