Celebrate Poet E.E. Cummings' Birthday with a Poetry Unit Study

Although I’ve always loved literature- teaching it and learning it- I confess that I’ve struggled to enjoy poetry. I’m not really sure why. I do remember that we didn’t cover much poetry in my literature classes at school. So it’s something I’ve tried to being in to the language arts study in our homeschool.

One of the poets I actually enjoyed when introduced is E.E. Cummings. He’s a poet who thought- and wrote- outside the box. He’s an interesting character to learn about. And he’s my featured famous birthday for the month.
E.E. Cummings facts and unit study
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I’m excited to be linking up with the iHomeschool Network to post about famous people with birthdays this month. Studying the life of a famous person allows you to learn about historical time periods as well as science, math, fine arts, or literature- depending on the famous person you’re studying. You can find posts for many famous people with birthdays in October in this month’s birthday post at the iHomeschool Network.https://ihomeschoolnetwork.com/october-birthday-lessons/
E.E. Cummings makes a great historical figure around whom to create a unit study because you can study elements of his life in particular and then add in a study of poetry and poetry styles in general.
A Caveat… Before you begin a unit study about E.E. Cummings, it’s important to know that he doesn’t approach life from a Christian worldview. Many of his early love poems were erotic. He had an adulterous relationship for many years.

The subject matter in many of his poems as well as his play, Him, isn’t always appropriate for young children. Learning about Cummings’ life with your older children, however, can provide good opportunity for discussions about worldview. If you want to introduce your younger kids to Cummings, there are a few picture books listed in the Booklist that you can use to briefly cover his poetry.

Facts About E.E. Cummings

~Cummings was born in Massachusetts on October 14, 1894. His father was a professor and a minister. His full name is Edward Estlin Cummings.

~When Cummings was young- between the ages of eight and twenty-two- he wrote a new poem every day.
~He graduated from Harvard, earning a B.A. in 1915 and an M.A. in 1916.
~When World War I began, Cummings was a pacifist. But he decided to go to France to become a volunteer ambulance driver.
~Cummings and a friend were both arrested and imprisoned in France under suspicion of treason because of letters they had written. Cummings has a memoir that tells about his time spent imprisoned- The Enormous Room.
~Considered an avant-garde poet, Cummings liked to use unconventional grammar, style and punctuation, as well as to arrange words with unique spacing in some of his poetry. He also used words that he had made up.
~Even though Cummings was very unusual in his style of poetry writing, the themes of his poems were fairly traditional. He wrote about love, about nature, about flowers, about childhood.
~In 1931, Cummings traveled to the Soviet Union. He wanted to find out if the Communist revolution had brought about a better way of life. He was disappointed, and when he came back to the states, he wrote a travel journal- Eimi.
~Cummings self-published many of his early works because he couldn’t find a publisher, but in his later years, he had many, many works published.
~On September 3, 1962, Cummings died in New Hampshire.

Websites  with E.E. Cummings’ Works and Information About the Poet

The Poetry Foundation has a detailed biography of Cummings.
Biography.com has a short feature on the poet.
The Poets.org site also has a brief page on Cummings.
This site has a top ten list of Cummings’ best poems, and it’s interesting because you can see the unconventional style that Cummings uses.
You can find 100 poems by E.E. Cummings at the HePo (hellopoetry.com) site.
On this Harvard site you can find a page of good information about Cummings and his rebellion against traditional poetry conventions.
This site has a list of all of Cummings’ books, including the memoir- The Enormous Room-, collections of poems, Cummings” writings for the stage, and fairy tales.

E.E. Cummings facts and unit study

Books (About E.E Cummings and Poetry)

Challenge kids to come up with their own original poems in the style of E.E. Cummings.
And on this site you can find a lesson plan for studying “Next to or course god America”.

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Find more famous birthday posts at the iHomeschool Network October post.

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