Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection.

Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Yesterday would have been e.e. Cummings’ 119th birthday (he died in 1962). He’s considered one of the most innovative poets of the twentieth century and wrote more than 900 poems as well as several plays and essays, as well as two novels.

In 1955 he replied to a letter he received from a high school editor by giving some advice.

A POET’S ADVICE TO STUDENTS

A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feeling through words.
This may sound easy. It isn’t.
A lot of people think or believe or know they feel – but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling – not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people; but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.

Read the rest of his advice here.