Tuesday, July 04, 2006

E.E. Cummings: a poet's life by Catherine Reef

This biography of poet E. E. Cummings thoroughly covers his life at a level that middle school students can easily understand. Interspersed are many examples of his poems and some explanation of what they mean. His life as an artist, his family dynamics, his friendships with other artists, and his loves and marriages are all described and brought to life through numerous quotations. The author's research appears to have been done mainly in other biographies of Cummings, not through primary sources. Cummings life story is adequately told, but lacks the sparkle of some other biographies of twentieth century figures such as Our Eleanor by Candace Fleming or The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler by James Cross Giblin. Also, the first chapter begins with Cumming's childhood without ever giving the reader context for why Cummings is important in literary and artistic history, something that middle school students likely do not know. All in all, this is a solid biography of a brilliant poet, and it will likely be appreciated by a reader with an existing interest in E. E. Cummings.

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