Letter: How e e cummings got them going

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The Independent Online
Sir: Interesting, your juxtaposition today of Robert Winder's discussion of the rude language in James Kelman's Booker prize- winning novel, How late it was, how late, with a review of e e cummings' Selected Poems. It calls to mind a lecture given 40-odd years ago by the poet at the University of Rochester, in New York State.

The visitor's lecture was open to the city's genteel, literary ladies - and boy were they genteel - which obviously displeased cummings, a tough-guy Harvard man. 'My novel The Enormous Room, you may recall, is full of shit,' he began, and, opening it, read a raw-sewage passage. The ladies rose as one and left on a tide of blue rinse. 'Well, that's that,' cummings continued, clamping shut the book and smiling at the rapt, remaining students. 'Now let's take up poetry.'

Yours faithfully,


West Bradley, Somerset

13 October