Friday, July 10, 2015

Poetry Seven Write "in the style of" - e.e. cummings

This month the poetry seven were tasked with writing poems "in the style of." We had quite a bit of discussion about what this meant before we ever got off the ground. When we settled on e.e. cummings I was terrified, and that's putting it mildly. While I may eschew punctuation and capitalization in my poems, I don't usually play with them in the manner of cummings.

Okay, confession time. I have always disliked the poetry of e.e. cummings. There, I said it. His poems have always made me feel dumb. I just don't get them, and (I say this rather immodestly, but I'm a pretty smart cookie), when I don't get the gist, I get frustrated. Perhaps I never read cummings widely enough, but after struggling with a few of his poems, I gave up, never to return to him again.

Enter this month's writing project. As the poet of the style of choice, I jumped into reading cummings again. I'll admit I still don't get most of his stuff, but I did find some pretty amazing pieces. I floundered for quite a while with different topics, but after the shootings in Charleston I knew I needed to write about it. I try not to write when I'm emotional, as the poems tend to come from a dark place. My first drafts were very dark and darn depressing. They needed something more, but I didn't know what that was. On the Sunday following the shootings, the homily focused on embracing hope and rejecting despair. In thinking about Father Jim's words, I realized exactly what my poem was missing, and so my single poem became a pair.

hatred and hope - a pair of poems in the style of e.e. cummings
(written in the wake of the Emanuel AME shootings)


cold heart

open arms--
genuine love

(in the eyes)






to despair


in their

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2015. All rights reserved.

One of our esteemed members (Andi!) suggested we record our poems this time around. I'm not sure I've captured the emotions I was experiencing as I wrote these, but I'll leave that for you to decide. 

Now that you've read and heard my poems, here is the e.e. cummings' poem I chose to emulate. 





(inquiry before snow

To date, this has been the most difficult challenge for me. I am most grateful to the group this month for leading me to cummings as I've never known him. You can read and listen to the fabulous "in the style of" poems written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below. 

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Katie at The Logonauts. Happy poetry Friday friends! 


  1. I hear what you're saying about ee and his poetry---but there are some things that we cannot plumb, right---and it's ok to feel that we don't "get them" because in that uncertain place, we may feel alone, but we aren't. The whole universe is in that "uncertainty." And---dare I say this---you know this. You do. Your poems, both of them, reflect your willingness to live in the dark places and be there, againandagainandagain, and offer whatever insight does or does not come. That is poetry. And I love your bravery. xo

    1. I was never a huge Cummings fan either, for the reasons Tricia articulated. And he felt like the bigger challenge as a result, and turned out to be a challenge, but my, didn't we all rise?

  2. Tricia... I said this to you earlier, but I am so struck by the pain and power of these pieces. Thank you for jumping into this wild realm even if you weren't quite sure. It was so worth it!

  3. I am there with you on cummings, Tricia. I do not get it. That's how I usually feel when I read his work. Then, occasionally, I'll read a poem and feel something deeply and fall briefly in love. And then I go back to not understanding him. You did a beautiful job revealing yourself through his style. Brava!

  4. Hahah. I told Tech Boy about this week's project, and he scowled. "Man, I HATE e.e. cummings poetry," he complained. And then he listened to all of our recordings and decided they were ...not as confusing as they could have been. I expected to really struggle with this, too, but I'm so glad that we took this challenge.

    I think my favorite part of your poem is the repetition - the againandagainandagain. It's seventy times seven, and no matter how many times, we believebelievebelieve it must get better. It must.

  5. One of the things I've admired about Cummings is that he showed us 'different'. In this latest picture book bio of his, the authors show that he indeed looked at things in a different way & only later did he start to share that. Perhaps he too was wondering at his words? I think this was quite a challenge & you wrote from such a heartfelt topic, too, Tricia. Answering 'hate' with 'hope' is a wonderful way of response.

  6. High, girl!
    While I realize my penname is quite morbid, yet,
    you shall find in our 24 blogs a gobba (subliminal) moxie
    which has taken this mortal sinner yeeeeers to compile:
    I lay it ALL out for you, dear - neet-o, packaged, concise.

    Nevertheless, wouldn’t ya love an endless eternity
    of aplomBombs falling on thy indelible cranium?
    An XtraXcitinXpose with no
    with an IQ much higher than K2,
    and an extraordinarily, sawcy, rowdy victory??
    Here’s what the exquisite, prolific GODy sed
    (with an excellent bullshot detector):

    “Faith, hope, and love,
    the greatest of these is love -
    jump into faith...
    and you'll see with love”
    Doesn’t matter if you don’t believe (what I write);
    God believes in you.

    Meet me Upstairs, girl, where the Son never goes down
    from a passionate, prolific iconoclasm where you’ll find
    nonillionsXnonillionsXnonillionsXnonillionsX… of
    deluxe-HTTP [<- pi] opportunities for excitement BTW.

    Do it. Do the deed, dude. Sign into the Big House.

  7. You have done such a wonderful job on this month's poems Trisha! You jumped in and struggled with what you thought you didn't get, and created something amazing and stunning. I love cummings because he seems incomprehensible until you let the words sink in, and then somehow an unexpected meaning jells. You've got that here. Your two poems are heartbreakingly beautiful and full of grace. You took a tool you thought you could not use and it fit your hand with loveliness.

  8. These are both incredible poems, Tricia, but the pairing of them just blows me away. Thank you for writing with such honesty.

  9. When listening to your readings, I especially liked the way you leaned into believingbelievingbelieving - how hard it is to do, how we strain for it, how necessary it is - it all comes through in your voice.

  10. Wow, Tricia. This pairing is so powerful. I have never been a huge cummings fan myself, but you've done a fabulous job with using his style to match your meaning.

  11. I find double e pretty challenging myself. I think you got his cadence and technique pretty darn good here, Tricia. I loved your poem!