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Hi, I'm Heather Kamins for About.com, and I'm here to talk to you about E.E. Cummings.Edward Estin Cummings - or E.E. Cummings as he came to be known - was an author, playwright, essayist and author of nearly 3,000 poems. His deeply experimental poetry is best known for its radical restructuring of form and syntax within free verse, though he was also known for writing idiosyncratic sonnets. His poems were known for known for being viciously satirical, but could be moving in discussing love, nature and death and rebirth.Cummings was born in 1894, and he was known to have written daily from the age of eight. At Harvard University, he developed his preference for modern poetic forms. He was first published in 1917, but his literary career was interrupted when he volunteered as an ambulance driver in World War I. This was a mixed experience. He developed a lifelong romance with Paris; however, he was arrested and held for months, accused of espionage and anti-war views.This experience became the basis of his 1922 novel, The Enormous Room, which was celebrated by authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald. Later experiences in Paris would bring him into contact with Pablo Picasso, as well as many other stars of the local artistic community. He would continue to travel widely, including to North Africa and even the USSR. The 1920s brought his first significant burst of fame, with collections like Tulips and Chimneys and XLI Poems establishing his avant-garde bonafides with explorations of sex and war.E.E. Cummings became more traditional following the death of his father in a car crash. He would develop right-wing views after his trip to the USSR. Indeed, he was a prominent Republican for the rest of his life. He was criticized for not fully evolving his experimental work after his early acclaim. But some argue that his subject matter began to broaden and mature. And Cummings continued to associate with advocates of surrealism and Dadaism, even as he expanded into plays, essays and even comic strips.Cummings died of a stroke in 1962, but like Robert Frost, was at the height of both his celebrity and literary readership. His fresh, modern style still resonates today, and Cummings is still one of the most widely-read American poets. Here's the first stanza of his poem, "anyone lived in a pretty how town":anyone lived in a pretty how town(with up so floating many bells down)spring summer autumn winter he sang his didn't he danced his didThanks for watching. To learn more, visit us on the web at About.com.
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