The E. E. Cummings Society and its Journal, SPRING were established in New York City in 1980 by David V. Forrest, a psychiatrist, and Richard S. Kennedy and Norman Friedman, both English professors. Friedman and Forrest, along with Editorial Board members George J. Firmage and D. Jon Grossman, knew Cummings in the old days and enjoyed a personal / literary relationship with him. Forrest was editor of the Journal and chief organizer of the Society's meetings, and SPRING ran quarterly from April of 1981 to June of 1991.
The Society met periodically and ad hoc, attended by a fluctuating membership--usually gathering around some relevant event, such as the performance of a Cummings play or the arrival of a visiting notable--who were convened in Forrest's office and then transposed to a nearby restaurant for lunch or dinner. An account of the meeting then appeared in the Journal which was produced in the manner of a typewritten newsletter, along with articles, poems, letters, and other items of interest to those who cherish Cummings and his works.
A number of factors then converged to push for change. There was a feeling that, in ten years, we had done what we could with the newsletter format, and that the time was ripe for re-grouping. Also, while Forrest's professional obligations were growing, Friedman's teaching career was arriving at the point of retirement. Thirdly, there was the formation in 1988 of the American Literature Association and its annual Conferences, chiefly under the leadership of Alfred Bendixen of Cal State University in Los Angeles. Working in large part through the existing American author societies, the Association encouraged the formation of conference panels arranged by these societies-- our own, of course, among them. This has led, as you can see, to some valuable contributions to the Journal, as well as to increased interest in and productivity concerning Cummings and his career.
It was decided, then, to try for a regular journal format, a wider and more professional audience, and a greater selection of [end page 3] articles and studies of Cummings' life, works, and times. We do not take this to imply, however, a sacrifice of the freshness, spontaneity, and variety of the original Journal, and so we are retaining a lively interest in music, theater, drama, poetry, news and notes, etc.
The Society itself consists of the subscribers to the Journal and is
thus a far-flung and loosely-knit organization. Naturally,
the Editors and the Board form the nucleus, and we will be prepared to consider the question of meetings once again after
the Journal itself gets off the ground.
Our new format is costing much more money, of course, and we are at
this writing--as we always have been--almost entirely
self-supporting (which means personal funds take up the slack should a shortfall occur). We have decided to begin as an annual, simply to see what the market will bear, and we will be happy, should sufficient funds and materials come our way, to publish twice or three times a year. We do not see, by the way, that materials will be lacking, as we have almost enough good
items for a second issue already. We have, for example, papers from the 1991 and 1992 Conferences, as well as the concluding portion of Rotella's secondary bibliography. Firmage has promised an updating of his primary bibliography, and Forrest and Friedman are studying the manuscripts of Cummings' dreams and hope to contribute their several interpretations in a future issue. We also expect to inaugurate in the next issue a section for news, notes, letters, reviews, etc., so please send in any relevant items you may have. And submissions are, of course, always welcome. Anyone who wishes to participate in the 1993 Conference, which is tentatively scheduled for the end of May in Baltimore, should contact Friedman.
Those of you who have already subscribed, therefore, are urged to renew, and those who have not are urged to begin. You will find a slip for the purpose enclosed. If you can persuade additional individuals, colleges, departments, libraries, and bookstores to subscribe, that would be very helpful. If you can suggest a publisher who would sponsor the Journal, or donors or granting organizations who would be interested in providing financial support, that would be most helpful. [end page 4]
So far, we have been greatly assisted by Victor Schmalzer, Cummings' editor at Norton / Liveright, who has authorized us to sell the new Complete Poems, edited by Firmage, for $45, discounted from the list price of $50, to our subscribers, and to share the income thereof. See the ad on the inside of the back cover.
Roger Gozdecki, proprietor of "The Book Shop in Covina, CA, has been generous in providing us with a gift of $300 to help defray expenses. David Diamond, Richard Kennedy, Sterling Dean, and Arthur Lerner have also contributed funds. Several plans are underway for readings and performances which The Journal is eager to help promote. Eric Nord has arranged for a poetry reading at The Jefferson Market Library, which rises opposite Patchin Place in New York City, where Cummings used to live. This event is scheduled to take place on Saturday afternoon, October 10, 1992, at 2.30 PM. Further, various plans for celebrating the Centennial Year of Cummings' birth, 1894-1994, are getting underway in New York City, Philadelphia, and Chapel Hill, and SPRING is willing and able to act as switchboard, promoter, and coordinator of such plans.
We turn now to the body of The Journal. The first three major articles--by Cohen, Wagner-Martin, and Kennedy--were originally delivered as talks at the American Literature Association Conference in San Diego, on June 1, 1990. Friedman organized and chaired this panel, with a view toward inaugurating a reassessment of Cummings from the fresh perspective of almost thirty years after the poet's death. One of the things this has meant is that those of us who were in the past anxious to do justice to Cummings' genius now feel we may ap-propriately begin the effort of separating the wheat from the chaff in his work, with the intention of establishing more firmly what appears to be of more durable value therein.
There follows a section on The Enormous Room. Paul Headrick, an extraordinary young scholar-critic, surveys and analyzes the reception of that work, and has promised as well a version of his 1992 ALA paper interpreting The Enormous Room itself for the next issue. Taimi Olsen, also a gifted young scholar-critic, applies a Saussurian approach. The remaining piece in this group brings to light [end page 5] some significant information by and about Slater Brown, Cummings' companion in the detention facility at La Ferté-Macé.
We have included a group of poems next. While some of them have to do directly with Cummings, some do not, but all seem compatible with the subject and spirit of this Journal. On the other hand, we would not want to encourage mere imitation, and so we have looked for artistic vigor first and applicability second. We also, for reasons of space, must favor shorter poems rather than longer.
A group of three miscellaneous pieces comes next. The first has to do with the late D. Jon Grossman and his translation of Cummings' "little tree." The second raises (again) the question of an E. E. Cummings Centennial stamp. And the third [by editor Norman Friedman] tries to erase for all time the lamentable error of printing the poet's name in lowercase.
The penultimate section features the talented and resourceful young
musician, Eric Nord, and his efforts to promote Cum-
We conclude with the first half of Rotella's
immensely skillful and useful bibliography of secondary sources.
--The Editors [end page 6]
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