Aha Moment: e.e. cummings


Friday, September 14, 2012

As a child Quang Bao fled Vietnam and lived in a refugee camp with his family. They eventually settled in Sugarland, Texas. He was in high school — captain of the swim team, a mediocre student, uninterested in literature, and unready to accept being gay — when he was given e.e. cummings’ poem "i like my body when it is with your." The poem taught him what love was, and set him on the path to becoming a writer.

(Originally aired: April 30, 2010)

→ Is there a poem, film, song, or other work of art that has changed your life? Tell us in a comment or by email.

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Produced by:

Jenny Lawton

Comments [3]

kay rutherford from hangzhou, china

it's gotta be:

i carry your hear with me(i carry it in my heart)i am never without it(anywhere i go you go,my dear,and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)

Oct. 28 2012 08:56 PM
Michael G. from New York City

There are three such poems that ignited my passion for poetry writing as a young lad. One, coincidentally, is e.e. cummin's "Since feeling is first..."

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you...

Pablo Neruda's La Muerta (Dead Women). This poem strikes a passionate, devoted element.

"No, forgive me.
If you no longer live,
if you, beloved, my love,

if you have died,
all the leaves will fall in my breast,

it will rain on my soul night and day,
the snow will burn my heart,

I shall walk with frost and fire and death and snow,
my feet will want to walk to where you are sleeping, but
I shall stay alive,

because above all things
you wanted me indomitable,
and, my love, because you know that I am not only a man
but all mankind.

E.E. Cummings "i carry my heart..." is also one that has made such an impact. For me there are many more, too numerous to mention. These three (and Elizabeth Bishop's 'One Art.) stand out as I've enjoyed them since I was a teen, and I still love every beautiful word.

Sep. 17 2012 05:24 PM
Laurence Levine from New York City

Today's show brought to mind the love affair I have had with John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath that started when I was a senior in High School in 1952. I did not know at that time, that the book would remain a favorite of mine through the decades and when I was in my 50s would be a factor in my life. After going through my company's third leveraged buy out culminated in my "out sourcing" 72 people that my life would change. I joined my wife (who also moved from the business world and got her Doctorate from Columbia in nutrition & education) in forming a not-for-profit organization that is now in its 18th year. It teaches students about the root causes of hunger and poverty and instills in the belief that they can foster change in their community and world. It is a world wide program and no one associated with it gets paid. Oh yes, in our teacher guide one of the lesson plans is centered on The Grapes of Wrath.

Sep. 16 2012 01:15 PM

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