Whether you admire the work of e.e. cummings or think of him mainly as the inspiration for your high school’s worst poet, you’ll enjoy this excerpt of Susan Cheever’s new biography, which touches on the poet’s later years and his relationship with Cheever’s father. The two (contrasting) money quotes here are Malcolm Cowley’s claim that cummings was “the most brilliant monologuist I have known” and this exasperated question posed by Helen Vendler: “What is wrong with a man who writes this?
“Wasn’t Pogofest the type of idea barely solvent towns pay marketing consultants millions of dollars to avoid? Who was Pogofest supposed to appeal to, besides—thirty years after the fact—me? I pose the question to Janice Parks, a former city commissioner. ‘Well, look what a rat did for the wasteland of Central California,’ she says.” A bizarre, slightly surreal look at Waycross, Georgia — the self-proclaimed hometown of Pogo Possum.
“Since his release, in 2005, he has graduated from the University of Maryland and Warren Wilson College’s low-residency M.F.A. program, been a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard, received an N.A.A.C.P. Image Award, got married, and had two sons. ‘I’ve added some fancy stars … so now I’m like Felon Plus.’” Take a look at this fascinating New Yorker profile of Reginald Dwayne Betts: poet, memoirist, ex-convict-cum-lawyer, and family man.