E.E. Cummings, Valentine

IT’S A KNEE-JERK RESPONSE: say “love poem” and I’ll say “E.E. Cummings,” every single time. Go ahead, try and convince me: how that combination of twee and typographic trick should relegate cummings to the side-bar of serious, the backpacks of the under-20 set, the valentines of precocious teens. Yes, I’ll say?because that’s what love does: calls us back to our adolescent selves, heart and pelvis thrumming. At 16 I couldn’t get enough of the poem’s last parenthetical, how it perfectly enacted the very thing it described. And yes, it was a teen crush, a poet, who gave me that poem, in the first book of poetry I would ever own. Eros, meet Mimesis: a love story for all time.

— Dana Levin


E.E. Cummings, “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]”


i carry your heart 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)

     i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you


here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart


i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

[more Valentine’s Day poems]



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Open to any author writing in English about the Chicanx/Latinx experience, the Rivera Book Prize is committed to the discovery and fostering of extraordinary writing by a first-time or early career author whose work examines the long and varied contributions of Chicanx/Latinx in the US. The Rivera Book Prize aims to provide a platform that showcases the emerging literary talent of the Chicanx/Latinx community, to cultivate the next generation of Chicanx/Latinx writers, and to continue the rich literary memory of Tomás Rivera, Chicano author, poet, activist, and educator.

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