Tag Archives: E.E. Cummings

Strange Conversations

I was flipping through some old mags and journals tonight and came across an issue of University of QLD journal, Vanguard. Inside the issue was a series of ‘conversations’ between some of the greats of twentieth century literature – Raymond Carver, Allen Ginsberg, e.e. cummings and Jack Kerouac – and a number of local Brisbane poets. The editors had pitched us a series of questions from the works of these literary giants and encouraged us to go nuts. The results… some frenetic, curious and strange conversations.

Here’s a sample from each interview… and if you want to add your own response to one of the questions, feel free drop it in the comments.


Interviewer: e.e. cummings, from 100 Selected Poems

Interviewees: Jef Caruss (JC) and Sheish Money (SM)

e. e.:  shall the voice of liberty be mute?

JC: If I can’t yell the occasional obscenity, then I cannot be free.

e. e.:  I say to you who are silent.—“Do you see Life?”

SM: I say to you who are dead do you hear noise?

e. e.:  what if a dawn of a doom of a dream bites this universe in two, peels forever out of his grave and sprinkles nowhere with me and you?

SM: Then the twilight of a beginning being will forge a pact with grave and gifted and float nothingness on air till you and I return.


Interviewer: Raymond Carver (RC), from All of Us: The Collected Poems

Interviewee: Graham Nunn (GN)

RC:  What the hell is going on?

GN: In a soft skinned sunset, the hot breath of prayer is sketching new purpose; bleeding silver sutures to stitch up the remnants of something far more interesting, for we are gone sweetness…wired, split, shot to elsewhere.

RC: What’s wrong?

GN: All the trees are dressed in flames, houses stumble forward menacingly, foaming at the windows and the road has torn itself free from underfoot. Our heads are filled with avalanches and our mouths with waterfalls.

RC: Have you had any fresh lemonade lately?

GN: I have written english nouns without capitals, bared my teeth at the tatting of tongues, watched a thunderstorm in my cupboard, philandered over elegant chairs and drank myself silly thank you very much!


Interviewer: Jack Kerouac (JK), from Old Angel Midnight

Interviewee: Rowan Donovan (RD)

JK: How are you Mrs Jones?

RD: Since the operation? Good! And since my marriage to Mr. Jones? Even better! It’s amazing what these doctors can do today. A little nip here. A little tuck there and—Hey Presto—just me and my new private parts. Actually, it was the wedding and all the fuss that was trying but now I’m good, and thank you for asking, Mr. Kerouac. Mind if I call you Jack?

JK: Why read Don Quixote when you can read The Diamond Sutra or the Wonderful Law Lotus Sutra?

RD: That’s right! Why read a classic of Western Literature when you can read the sutra that first enlightened Hui Neng?

JK: Do I dream?

RD: Not if you have read The Diamond Sutra.

JK: What kinda world we’d have (Hi Missus Twazz) (O jullo Mr. Moon mock) a world all poits?

RD: Ahh, Jack. I love it when you talk dirty.


Interviewer: Allen Ginsberg (AG), from Planet News:

Interviewee: Julie Beveridge (JB)

AG: The colour of the wind?

JB: The wind had no colour til I quit smoking and now it looks like all the cigarette smoke I no longer inhale, it just follows me around asking me why I don’t drop by anymore.

AG: Do you want to live or die?

JB: I don’t know whether to kill myself or go bowling.

AG: Well, who knows?

JB: The guy at the bowling alley said to kill myself. He’d know I guess.

AG: How big is the prick of the President?

JB: Not as big as mine… but bigger than yours.

AG: You’re in a bad mood?

JB: Don’t get upset, your prick is a fine size. There’s no need to get personal.


Filed under interviews/artist profiles

Desert(ed) Island Poems #4 – Eddy Burger

Once again, let’s take that trip to solitude. This time we look at the poems that inhabit the Desert(ed) Island of Melbourne’s Eddy Burger.




Henry Reed – Naming of Parts (1946)

This poem is one of a series by Reed entitled Lessons of the War. Naming of Parts was my first ‘favourite poem’, back when I started to write poetry seriously years ago. It’s funny and innovative, which are two qualities I aim for in my own work. I love the juxtaposition between serious military instruction and the poetic references to flowers, nature and sex – there is contrast between subject matter as well as between style of language. It is engaging, appealingly structured, and quite odd.

Read the poem here: http://www.solearabiantree.net/namingofparts/namingofparts.html


E. E. Cummings – in Just (1923)

I’ve always liked E. E. Cummings for his unconventional language and structure. In Just- is a wonderful poem. I love its depiction of childhood and the playfulness in its funny expressions and layout. Expressions like mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful are great, as is the funny lame balloonman who whistles far and wee. The poem is simple, innovative, beautiful and so joyous.

Read the poem here: http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/1636.html


Williams Carlos Williams – This is just to say (1934)

I’m not the first to cite this poem as a favourite, yet I came upon it some time ago and have been enamoured of it ever since. It is so simple yet so evocative. It’s funny in the way he so cheekily confesses to eating the plums, then says how delicious they were, as if to rub it in. And I can really imagine how the plums must have tasted. The fact that this poem mimics a real note adds another dimension to it. I also like the way the poem’s title is also the first line of the poem.

Read the poem here: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15535


Wallace Stevens – A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts (1937)

Stevens is my current most favourite poet. His work is complex yet beautiful, more concerned with the nature of things and obscurer relationships than most poetry. A common theme is the privileging of the subject’s perspective. I see it as empowering the subject and the reader, inspiring freedom and potential through freewill and imagination. We see it in A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts: The trees, moonlight and the whole ‘wideness of night’ is for the rabbit, whilst the local cat becomes no more than ‘a bug in the grass’. It’s such a beautiful, cute, inspiring and funny poem.

Read the poem here: http://www.repeatafterus.com/title.php?i=1026


Ania Walwicz – Australia (1981)

Ania’s poetry works well on paper and also sounds great when she reads it, like a crazy child. Since I am a performance poet, among other things, it’s fitting that one of my top 10 particularly lends itself to performance. It’s language is simplistic yet frenetic, satirical and pointed. The naive tone accentuates the ridicule aimed at her subject. Her subject is Australia and its people, which her narrator attacks partly due to not feeling accepted. It echoes sentiments I feel about mainstream society. I love the odd manner of expression and the pace, which employs much alliteration and rhythm.

Read the poem here: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080611035633AAIECTx


Les Murray – Bent Water in the Tasmanian Highlands (1983)

Whilst many writers I have chosen might be called modernist, unconventional or whatnot, Les Murray’s poetry is generally more conventional – though this one ain’t. A frequent subject of his is nature and the countryside, for which I feel a particular affinity. This poem is dense, focused on imagery and full of the exuberance of nature. I like the way it is laid out, like prose, with unbroken lines that help convey its relentless pace. I love its pace, reverence of nature, and abstraction, as the flowing of water encompasses the whole land, to the point of evoking of godliness.


Robert Frost – To Earthward (1923)

Frost’s work is more conventional but I am very fond of it, particularly this poem. I like its simplicity, beauty and oddness. I feel empathy for its sentiments, but its analogies are so striking, portraying his younger self’s experience of love and nature as so powerful it hurt, compared with the world-weary older self who wishes he was practically crushed against the earth just so he could feel. The poem is not long but absorbing and has me quite mesmerized. It has a rhyming structure, which I’m not usually keen on, but it compliments the poem’s sensuality nicely.

Read the poem here: http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/robertfrost/12107


Mona Van Duyn – Falling in love at Sixty-Five (1990)

I came across the poetry of Mona, an American, only recently but really like what I’ve read, particularly this poem. To fall in love at sixty-five is likened to using an overly bright lamp in the bedroom at night, but it’s the most dynamic, feverish description of a lamp I’ve read. There is a beautiful passage describing an earlier experience of love, but then it’s back to the lamp and being barraged by bugs. To try relating it to falling in love makes my mind boggle. I like the poem’s pace and oddness. It is wonderful, innovative and funny.


Lewis Carroll – Jabberwocky (1871)

Mum has been quoting Jabberwocky since I was young and I have always loved John Tenniel’s Jabberwock illustration. I love the poem’s strange fantasy world, and its made-up words are innovative and so evocative. Much of my own writing contains fantasy, more literary than genre fantasy, and I find Jabberwocky likewise inspiring, as I do the complete Lewis Carroll books. As well as the poem, I’d like to include Humpty Dumpty’s explanation of the words, plus the Jabberwock illustration. Also, I think I’d prefer the poem in reverse, as Alice finds it; she has to read it through a mirror.

Read the poem here: http://www.jabberwocky.com/carroll/jabber/jabberwocky.html


Guillaume Apollinaire – Horse Calligram (1916)

Since I also produce visual and concrete poetry, this visual poem belongs in my top 10. Its hand-written lettering is arranged to create an image of a horse (its front part). I can’t vouch for its legibility because it’s in French, but calligrams are generally about the thing they portray. It’s inspiring to see something handwritten taking precedence over printed lettering, which would look clunky by comparison. It’s a beautiful image. As a writer with also much experience in the visual arts, I am interested in combining the two. The Horse calligram is the perfect marriage of the two artforms.

View the poem here: http://web.mac.com/jkorenblat/Joshua_Korenblat_Home/Articles_files/Word-picture.pdf

About Eddy:

Eddy Burger is a Melbourne writer of humorous and experimental poetry, fiction, plays and zines. His writing has appeared in local and overseas journals. In 2007 the Melbourne Poets Union published a chapbook of his poetry entitled Funny & Strange, and in 2009, Queensland ’s Small Change Press will publish his poetry collection Impressions of Me.

Find out more:



Filed under Desert(ed) Island Poems