April 12, 2016

Monday, April 28, 2014

Source Poems: "[Buffalo Bill's]"

For National Poetry Month 2014, I have invited 17 authors and poets to guest post about source poems. In this series of essays, each writer will describe a single poem's significance in his or her life.

Guest blogger Tim Ward -- a poet and poetry lover here in Baltimore -- is having computer problems. 

I am posting Tim's source poem, even though he was unable to send a post. Tim's choice holds significance for many people -- both poets and laypersons. I invite you to leave a comment about e.e. cummings' "[Buffalo Bill's]" in the hope that, when Tim gets back online, he'll have your feedback on the poem to engage with.

Tim Ward (left), friend, and The Word Pimp
at the Baltimore Book Festival
From Tim:

I had always told my mom I would try to write my stories and poems, so when she died in 2006, I decided to honor my own and her wishes.

In high school, I first became acquainted with e.e. cummings and figured if it was OK to write that like for e.e., then it was a good way for me to begin.

I seem to thrive with short poems of my own grammar, and get lost in longer verses.

[Buffalo Bill 's]
Buffalo Bill 's
                     who used to
                     ride a watersmooth-silver
and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat

he was a handsome man
                                                            and what i want to know is
how do you like your blueeyed boy
Mister Death

From Laura:

How many readers remember the thrill, the drop in your stomach, the first time you read this poem? In poetry, we often talk about the turn, when a poem moves in a new and surprising direction. I think reading "[Buffalo Bill's]" was the first time I really understood the power of a turn.

e.e. cummings
From the Language Arts Place
Please leave a message for Tim or feedback about this poem in the comments.

Watch and listen to a waltz inspired by cummings' poem here:

Previous posts in this series:
Diane Mayr on a haiku by Basho
Shirley Brewer on "The Singers" by Eavan Boland
Renee LaTulippe on "Daddy" by Sylvia Plath


Anonymous said...

The "turn" is a maneuver I much admire and never attempt. For me most of the examples that spring to mind are Billy Collins poems.

Author Amok said...

Many of Kay Ryan's poems have a little turn at the end, but the one I'm thinking of is by Charles Wright. Will look up the title and post a link later today.

skanny17 said...

When I work with my 3rd graders on poetry and about poetry and with poetry in many ways and from many angles, I like to tell them that a poet is a "word artist" and 8 year olds relate to this. They accept all the varieties of styles and types of poems for face value. Showing them e.e.cummings and poems like this help to get the point across that I make to them. When writing a poem that you want someone to "notice" (broadly defined) I suggest they put some "heart" in the poem somewhere...not something sappy, but something that makes the reader go, "ohhhhhh" so the reader will think "that touched me in some way"...a whole range of emotions to go with the "ohhhhh", have a surprise ending that is a turn of sorts and not silly, unless silly fits the poem and select words and line breaks with care. Then read it aloud. Ask yourself, "does my poem matter"? It is an effort to move from the little "ditties" some kids think a poem has to be. I want them to be a wise writer who thinks of a reader's reaction, "oh that poem makes me thinks or touches me in some way." And a poem can be anything. Poets are word artists. And sometimes it is hard to truly know what the poem means, so give it some time, think about it, live with it and come back to view it again. This poem, Buffalo Bill, calls for that, I think.

Linda B said...

I had a wonderful English teacher my final two years in high school. She didn't just rely on the old favorites, but brought us into "new" writing too. I don't remember if it was this poem, but do remember Cummings "In Just Spring" with her glorying in this wonder of a poem. It was an "opening" for us.

Patricia VanAmburg said...

I like "Bufallo Bill's" and also "In Just Spring"--but my favorite cumming's poem is Gladly Beyond anywhere I have Never Travelled--not even the rain has such small hands.