Finding My Voice and Cummings

If you’ve read before, I’ve lost my voice in terms of writing. It’s lost in that I don’t know how to write like I want to anymore. It’s just not where I want it to be. I’ve tried several things, but now I’ve gone to reading poetry. It was a lighthearted decision to say the least, not one contemplated on for hours before buying a book of poetry to read. I just went online, bought a book for my tablet, and started reading. The book is Is 5 by E.E. Cummings. I used to own a book of Cumming’s poetry, but sadly, it’s lost to a loan out.

Cummings was at the top of my list of poets to read, but I have a selection of poetry to choose from without going on to buying another book. I have Frost, complete Dickinson, Rilke, and more to select a book from. If I really felt like reading poetry, I have what I need, I have more than what I need if I ever feel the need to read poetry. But I needed something different in terms of how things are put together and how language is approached. I needed something that only Cummings could provide and that is a challenge.

Reading Cummings is like reading a book without ever having read a book before. His poetry does not follow traditional forms or really follow any particular rules that are discernible to someone who doesn’t hold a PhD in literature and even then I’d probably question the veracity of such claims. I thought that maybe reading it would provide a shock value to my brain, to keep it thinking laterally and not linearly, to make me see how language works in its most broken states and provide a blank slate to begin again with. That maybe he would jolt me back into my old self and there I would find my spiraling sentences.

And, of course, I love reading his poetry.

The reading was both easy and difficult to comprehend. It’s Cummings. It all makes sense in its own twisted illogical way that only a master of language and probably psychology could really come up with. My mind being a little torpid, it struggled against it and even railed against the strange forms and at first I couldn’t get into it to save my life or my writing. Poetry requires a rhythm just like prose does, a necessary cadence to read and absorb and enjoy. It seemed like an exercise in futility and even more so that I was bashing my head against the wall to accomplish something that seemed like it would never come.

But it did. Thankfully it did. I found the rhythm and rather than piecing word after word together on a page through labor. It started to pull itself together and gently swirl in my head. Soon, I found my love of poetry and reading again and devoured it. It was like a subtle restoration to sanity that other authors were unable to give me, not even Orwell.

Now, I’m not writing exactly like how I used to. For that I’ll just have to write a ridiculous amount and get back into the flow of writing again. Still, it loosened my mind up to see how things could fit together again and brought back long lost mental avenues to travel again.

E.E. Cummings… who would have really ever thought that would bring my mind back.


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