Stephanie Pan

Two Poems by E. E. Cummings – Stelios Manousakis (2006)

For Voice and Live Electronics (10′)

Stephanie Pan: Voice
Stelios Manousakis: Live Electronics
E. E. Cummings: Texts

This piece is a setting of two poems by Edward Estlin Cummings (1894-1962), an American poet, painter, essayist and playwright, best known for his poems and their unconventional use of language and writing. The two poems are characteristic of Cummings’ poetry, in that they express clusters of meanings delivered through different linguistic channels simultaneously: semantic, syntactic, phonemic/sonic and the visual layout. However, the poems are very different and in some aspects clashing: short versus long, visual versus sonic, quiet versus noisy, oneness versus multitude. The first poem, ” l(a “, is an example of Cummings’ visual poetry with its characteristic use of punctuation and layout, depicting a scene while expressing the feeling of loneliness. The second poem, “NOISE”, is a sonic poem, in that the linguistic focus is often shifted to the phonemic quality of the words, while the syntax obscures the meaning to describe a noisy city environment (New York City) with all its embedded worlds and bursting sounds. The settings use extended vocal techniques, live electronics and lighting to expand the poetic language by enhancing the discourse between the different aspects of each poem, focusing on phonemes, words, phrases, images, and the overall ambiance of each section.

The piece was written for Stephanie Pan










thugs of clumsy mutter shove upward leaving fat
                feet-prints,rumbles poke buzzing thumbs
                in eye of world

stovelike emotion rapidly scrambles toots and
                scurry nibbling screams and sleek
                whistles which sprint ribbons of
                white shriek!   Clatters limp,

from svelt blubbering tubes Big dins fuzzily
                lumber rub-bing their eyes

thin very chimney lips wallow gushing cubes
                of unhasty delirium,chunks of
                indolence waddle slowly.

bangs punch.

explosion after

explosion:    from black lips sail chrome
                cries extra extra whatisit no?   Yes!
                no!   yea:   extra wheel!    oh hear it
                what no-yes (extra! extra) who, said
                Yea?   what!   yea!   yes.

PEACE Joy’s right boot squashes disciplined
                fragilities by slobber of,patient
                timidities undermined skyscrapers,
                Krash;it (explodes in a) plastic Meeow
                —with uncouth snarl of sculptural
                fur through which Claws


leaps Wall Street wriggles choked with gesturing
               human swill squirms gagged with
                a sprouting filth of faces extra!
                PEACE millions like crabs about a

prosperous penis of bigness the woolworth
                building,slowly waving

                through,doorswindows,Tears a
                vomit of supernatural buttons


biffing sky battles huge city which escapes
                niftily through slit-of-sunset
                dumb signs ripe

pustules of unhealth.   squEEzed:spatter
                pop-p-ings of mad

colour reveal,

canyons of superb nonsense.   Vistas of
                neatness bunged with a wagging
                humanity poised;In the bathing,

instant    a reek-of electric daintiness PEACE

all night from timetotime the city’s accurate
                face peeks from smothering blanket
                of occult pandemonium

PEACE all night!   into dawn-dingy dimness:
                of almost

streets; capers a trickle of mucus
               shapes equals girls men.

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