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Erotic Poems by E.E. Cummings | 02-Aug-16

Our Library Assistant Kavita Joshi is leaving us this August for pastures new. Here is Kavita's staff pick from last year's Poetry Library Open Day.

Erotic Poems by E.E. Cummings
New York ; London : W. W. Norton & Co., 2010

when the your-and my-
idle vertical worthless
self unite in a peculiarly
momentary

partnership (to instigate
constructive

 Horizontal
business... even so let us make haste
- consider well this ruined aqueduct

lady,
which used to lead something into
somewhere)

This collection features the erotic poems E.E. Cummings began writing in his late twenties, and continued to write throughout his life. They are collected here for the first time in this 2010 Norton edition, which also contains a striking selection of his erotic sketches. The poet was described by writer Malcolm Cowley as 'intensely shy and private in the Cambridge fashion.' However, this outward persona concealed a voracious sexual appetite. Already experimenting freely with poetic form and style as a young man, as he matured, he shook off the guilt he associated with sexual pleasure and produced some of the most provocative material of his time.

Cummings, now considered a prominent American writer, struggled constantly to publish his work. In keeping with our Open Day theme this year, these sparse, strange, but remarkable poems, clearly demonstrate the beginnings of transformation in poetry over the twentieth century. His trademark disjointedness and grammatical distortion, alongside various other innovations, created ways to enlarge his audience’s sense of linguistic possibility. At the same time as Freud was discussing the discontents of a civilised society, the poet was finding thrilling new freedoms in his art, both in form and content.

Kavita Joshi
Library Assistant

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