Monday, January 27, 2020

Poem366: “Typing with e.e. cummings” by Lori Desrosiers

Typing with e.e. cummings by Lori Desrosiers

Typing with e.e. cummings by Lori Desrosiers, Glenview, Illinois: Glass Lyre Press, 2019

It is a genuine pleasure to turn my attention to the whimsical Typing with e.e. cummings by one of my favorite Facebook friends, Lori Desrosiers.

Desrosiers channels e.e. cummings in these poems, and I would note that there is a strange nostalgia in revisiting the poet, who provided most of us with our first taste of the possibility of radical experimentation with punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure. As edgy as cummings was during his time, we know him more from poems like “maggie and milly and molly and may” or “I sing of Olaf glad and big,” or, the greatest of his greatest hits, “in Just-,” where “the // goat-footed // ballonMan     whistles / far / and / wee.”

In her stellar collection, Desrosiers begins with a touching poem titled “my sweet old typist,” an appreciation of her mother’s 100 word per minute typing, which she used, twice, to type up her husband’s doctoral dissertation, once unsuccessfully and once successfully. Writes Desrosiers,


at 73
wrote and typed
2 novels
on her

It’s a beautiful tribute with a meta touch, as we don’t often see poems in praise of typing.

Desrosiers also remembers her father in the lovely poem, “Poem with first line from e.e. cummings.” She remembers a dad who read Whitman and walked the land until “his brain grew star tumors.” Writes Desrosiers,

his body folded like a bad book
voice quieted, hands gnarled
feet left stepless, cold
gone in winter.

Desrosiers also offers up the tenderest of love poems, as in “I have found what you are like.” She compares her love to “the mud / which gathers up my feet and cleaves / like nothing else.” She sings the praises of mud, and thus her love, by writing that it is

a fodder for flowers
home of worms who eat what we discard
service of soil-studded creatures
joy for dogs and pigs and children

This close attention to a surprising subject reminds me quite a bit of cummings, but Desrosiers is definitely writing her own poems here, despite her tribute.

I recommend this breezy, clever, yet frequently sad collection for its range and beauty.

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